By Gregory Crofton
Listen to “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” a song by The Bee Gees recorded in 1993, and you’ll get a sense of the depth of this band’s catalog.
Part of their “Size Isn’t Everything” album, the song reached No. 9 on the U.S. charts. It isn’t a known No. 1 Bee Gee hit like “Stayin’ Alive,” but it is a wonderful pop song that would fit right into a band like Oasis’ playbook.
Lyrics from the chorus:
When the lonely heart breaks, it’s the one that forsakes
It’s the dream that we stole
And I’m missing you more than the fire that will roar
There’s a hole in my soul
For you it’s good-bye, for me it’s to cry
For whom the bell tolls
Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibbs — the brothers who wrote 20 No. 1 hits — never shied away from a cliche, rather they deployed them unabashedly arranged within complicated structures that contain multiple melodies.
Even more amazing is the band was able to make, for five decades, songs that resonated with their times, composing hit after hit for themselves and others including Dionne Warwick (“Heartbreaker“), Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers (“Islands in the Stream“), and Celine Dion (“Immortality“).
“The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” was a last minute addition to the the 2020 Nashville Film Festival, which opened this week online, but an ideal one given the event is located in Music City with a focus on music docs.
The film is a speed train through pivotal moments in the band’s career — with a focus on the its move to Miami in 1975 — bookended with touching comments from Barry Gibb, the only surviving brother of four (Andy, the youngest died at 30).
Director Frank Marshall (Alive, Right to Play) guided the story and camera work, while producer Nigel Sinclair (Beatles Eight Days a Week, George Harrison: Living in the Material World) unearthed great archival clips surely with help from Barry Gibb.
HBO has picked up the 111-minute film for broadcast after it premiered at the 2020 Telluride Film Festival. No trailer is available.