“Too Much Heaven” by the Bee Gees became the Number One song in the United States 35 years ago, on January 6.
I was way too young to really know the song — in fact I only just figured out all the words fairly recently — but it must have been played on every AM radio in the Philippines that year, from the speakers of jeepneys, with the treble punched up; from TV sets if you owned one; from battery-powered transistor radios in sari-sari stores. (And if you’re familiar with the Philippines, you’ll know that sappy ballads like these never die; they end up on heavy radio rotation and live on in karaoke lounges and different incarnations like these.)
I love my black metal and noise just as much as the next guy (no really, I’m a fan), but this song — with its layers of three-part harmony, the vibrato and falsetto melding together, and those horns from the folks in Chicago — I find simply gorgeous. I have no attachment to the song, nor do I find the lyrics (excuse the double negative in the title above) personally relevant. It’s just one of those songs I really like, you know?
I hummed this song all day yesterday, and posted about its “anniversary” on Facebook. It’s something I do occasionally, finding some song or album from the past few decades that I love and enjoying reading comments from friends, that are invariably some variation on “Man that makes me feel so old.”
This particular posting ended up in long, sometimes hilarious, threaded conversations. One comment was from a high school classmate I hadn’t seen since the mid-80s who thanked me for posting the link to the YouTube video and reminded her of how much she had loved the song back then. Another classmate, boasting of his karaoke prowess at “Too Much Heaven,” even texted me an audio file of himself singing a bit of the chorus, a cappella, into his phone. It wasn’t bad, but it sure wasn’t Gibb.
I sat at my desk, commenting on Facebook and looking at different versions on YouTube, including a touching version from 1997, where the Brothers Gibb, their voices less strong with age, sang the song accompanied just with a guitar, but without the falsetto voices. It was still a beautiful thing though.
Then my wife came home from work, I played the song for her, and we somehow ended up slow-dancing in the kitchen.
And at that moment — just a couple of minutes snatched from a day — the song was infused with meaning it never had before, now creating a tiny memory to be recalled every time I hear it.
And isn’t that what Hi is for, to record moments like these?
This is what both knowing and not knowing looks like.
A lesson learned.
Your one real goal as a writer: to keep your butt in that chair.
I miss the days when people used to blog.
I'm holding the dress and I can't stop smiling.