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Boomer Anthems: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? The Bee Gees

How indeed? Barry and Robin Gibb wrote the song in August 1970 with “Lonely Days” when the Gibb brothers had reconvened following a period of break-up and alienation.

“Robin came to my place,” says Barry, “and that afternoon we wrote ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ and that obviously was a link to us coming back together. We called Maurice, finished the song, went to the studio, and once again, with only ‘Broken Heart’ as a basic structure, we went into the studio with that and an idea for ‘Lonely Days’, and those two songs were recorded that night”.

Robin Gibb’s remarked on the song, “The whole thing took about an hour to complete. The song reached the number one spot, to our great satisfaction.”  — La Wik

And, while researching this song I discovered to my surprise last weekend there was a seemingly decent documentary on the Bee Gees released:

‘The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’: An Enthralling Doc –

The Bee Gees, of course, were brothers (there were three of them), a fact that in itself isn’t remarkable, though like the Beatles they rhymed in ways that were at once visual, temperamental, and sonic. Born in the U.K. and raised (mostly) in Australia, they had different versions of the same overbite (though Barry had the handsome-jock version, Robin looked like a gopher, and Maurice was the cute everyman). All three exuded an angelic serenity. And those voices! To say that the Gibb brothers blended together with seamless perfection wouldn’t do the sound they created justice. United by a silky timbre that was in their DNA, those voices, crooning and soaring, often into the higher register, fused as gorgeously as the colors of a rainbow.

The Bee Gees elevated catchiness to a kind of transcendence. The blissed-out harmonies, the melodic rapture that caressed you with its melancholy sweetness (“How-w-w-w can you stop…the sun from shining?…What makes the world go round?”), the way their songs had unexpected chord changes that could make an emotion leap into the next dimension — if you didn’t like the Bee Gees, it’s probably safe to say you don’t like pop music. They wrote over 1,000 songs, including 20 number-one singles in the U.S. and the U.K., and those songs became the soundtrack to a lot of people’s lives.

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  • Gordon Scott December 16, 2020, 7:08 PM

    When I think of the Bee Gees, one thing comes to mind: Ghostsniper.

    These guys invented their act three times and were more successful each time. They were doing well in the mid 1970s and then Saturday Night Fever happened. Suddenly they were the lead artists on a soundtrack that broke every record. They had five songs in the top 10 at the same moment.

    And then in 1980 it stopped, dead. So they wrote songs for other people and were very successful at that.

  • These Disco Boots December 16, 2020, 7:28 PM

    My older brothers used to give me hell for liking the Brothers Gibb with “Chinese Haircuts” and the hook finger in shoulder blade.
    I liked them even more and Saturday Night Fever soundtrack still rocks out in the car.
    Found an extended vinyl remix of Stayin’ Alive that is almost 15 minutes long with HUGE basslines and funky drums.
    BTW-not a boomer but a listener of music from any age or era that is good. The whole mocking boomers thing is stale as not all of them are hippies or Bolsheviks and they did have some kick ass vehicles along with some of the best music ever.

  • Rob De Witt December 16, 2020, 9:16 PM

    ….if you didn’t like the Bee Gees, it’s probably safe to say you don’t like pop music.

    Succinctly put, and safe to say.

  • El Polacko December 17, 2020, 7:14 AM

    When I think of the Bee Gees, one thing comes to mind: The Chipmunks.
    I’ll take Al Green’s version over theirs any day.


  • Mary Ann December 17, 2020, 4:23 PM

    @El Polacko, if the Bee Gees hadn’t written it Al Green couldn’t have sung it.