Bee Gees' Barry Gibb talks going country with ‘Greenfields’: ‘You have to work pretty hard to be accepted’
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The 74-year-old has released a new album titled "Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers’ Songbook Vo.1," a collection of Bee Gees music reworked as duets with notable artists from Nashville, including Dolly Parton and Keith Urban.
The last living Gibb brother, who has kept the family’s musical legacy going as a solo artist, emigrated from the U.K. to Australia as a child. However, Gibb told NPR on Friday that he’s been passionate about American country music for many years.
"Since I was about 9 or 10 years old," Gibb explained. "It was really in my system and it never left. Bluegrass music and country music is really what I care about more than anything else. Once all my brothers were no longer with me, once I was alone, I was able to focus on, ‘Well, what’s my passion?"
Barry Gibb has released a new album titled "Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers’ Songbook Vo.1." (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
According to the outlet, Gibb’s son introduced him to Chris Stapleton’s music. It was then that Gibb reached out to the country music star’s producer, Dave Cobb, about working on a record together. It turned out that Cobb was a major Bee Gees fan.
Gibb admitted he "didn’t have a sense of belonging" to release a country album early on in his career.
"You know how it is in Nashville; it’s a pretty closed circle if you like," Gibb told the outlet. "And it’s a hard place to penetrate even if you love the music and you want to be there… if you walk into another realm of music, you have to work pretty hard to be accepted."
Despite his eagerness to pursue the country world, Gibb acknowledged the important role disco played in music history – even after there was a massive backlash against it.
On July 12, 1979, Chicago shock-jock DJ Steve Dahl famously staged a "Disco Demolition Night," the Los Angeles Times reported.
L-R: Brothers Robin, Barry and Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
"… There was something very beautiful and rhythmic about all that music in the late ‘70s, and for the life of me, I have no idea why anyone thought it should be censored, which it was," said Gibb. "But it was a project – a bit like making a film. You become a character and you try to fit in with the soundtrack… But reinventing yourself is, to me, the greatest fun of all."
Gibb is grateful to give his beloved songs new life in Nashville. However, his brothers have always remained on his mind.
"Of course [I miss them]," he said. "We spent over 40 years around one microphone; how do you ever get past that? You don’t. But if I get the opportunity to be on stage, as far as I can tell, they’re right there with me. I can still smell the cologne that Maurice used. When you’re around one microphone, there are things you just never forget."
These days, Gibb is determined to keep going as an artist and introduce the music he created with his brothers to new audiences.
"That’s the mission for me," he said. "It’s not about me, it’s not about the Bee Gees. It’s just about those songs and how special they are to me. I want people to go on remembering them, and this was a way to do that."