♫ Stayin’ Alive ♫

I promised earlier this week that I would play one that wasn’t a redux, that I hadn’t played here before, and … {drumroll} here it is!!!  I wracked my brain (such as it is) and I thought I might like to do something by the Bee Gees.  So, I put on my blindfold, spun the wheel, and this is what came up!  I hope you like it!

This plays over the opening credits of the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever while John Travolta struts through the streets of New York City. The movie has come to represent the disco era, and has made Stayin’ Alive one of the songs most associated with disco.  Their contributions to Saturday Night Fever brought them huge success, but marked them as disco singers.

In a 1989 interview with Q magazine, they talked about this stigma and why they didn’t deserve it. Said Robin Gibb …

“We were not disco. People who emulated us were disco. All you heard on the radio was that dooo! dooo! syn-drum sound. We never had a syn-drum on one of our records!”

This was one of five songs the Bee Gees wrote specifically for Saturday Night Fever. Like the film, the song is about much more than dancing and having a good time. It deals with struggle and aspiration; making your way in the world even after you’ve been kicked around.

Robert Stigwood, who produced Saturday Night Fever, is the one who asked The Bee Gees to write music for the film.  Stigwood asked for a song called Saturday Night, but the Bee Gees wanted nothing to do with that title, since many other songs, including a very popular one by the Bay City Rollers, had that name.  Stigwood objected when he heard the song was called Stayin’ Alive, but the group told him that if he didn’t like it, they would just use the song on their own album!

Stayin’ Alive was released one day before the movie, but many theatergoers had already heard the song in trailers for the film. It quickly climbed the charts, reaching the top spot on February 4, 1978 and staying there for four weeks.

When they recorded Stayin’ Alive, The Bee Gees were more than just the Gibb brothers: guitarist Alan Kendall, keyboard player Blue Weaver, and drummer Dennis Bryon were key members, if not official. Byran, though, got called away when his mother fell ill, leaving them without a drummer. Their producer/engineers, Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson, kept work going by looping a bar of Bryon’s drumming on Night Fever and using that as the drum track. The built the song from there, adding the bass, then the guitar.  They planned to replace the drum loop with live drums when Bryon returned, but it sounded so good they left it in.

This song made it to #4 in the UK and #1 in the U.S.