Ah, the Bee Gees. There was a time when they weren’t always the butt of some joke. Before the sequined jumpsuits, exposed hairy chests, and Saturday Night Fever, they were slated to become the next Beatles. It was a time before the disco era swept their tight harmonies into what many of their fans would feel to be a cheap transition in 1977, churning out dancefloor hits like “Stayin’ Alive” and “More Than a Woman” for the aforementioned John Travolta flick.
The three-piece group of brothers delivered sweet pop melodies and combined with their telegenic looks, they were destined for stardom. Early hits like “To Love Somebody” and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” slid straight into the top 10, a fate that their later disco works would never fare.
Their gentle ballad, “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” starts with a pensive look at the past: “I can think of younger days / When living for my life / Was everything a man could want to do / I could never see tomorrow / But I was never told about the sorrow.” In context, these lyrics look at love; yet they also carry an eerie premonitory sense when considering the path their career would take. Forced to scrap their sound by their manager, the Bee Gees’ transition to disco would mark the slow end of their popularity.
Take a listen below to revisit the Bee Gees before it all went awry, with this performance of “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” from 1976.