I was born in 1966. That made me roughly 11-12 when disco raised its mirrored ball over the world, draped every young (and not so young) adult in polyester, and introduced a generation to line dancing long before anything on Billy Ray was achy or breaky..
When you're 11/12 years old, you have precious little freedom. You eat what is put in front of you. You go where the car is pointed. And when you are told to jump, you respond "How high?"
You also have precious little you can call your own. Especially when you have three siblings.
Sure, I had my clothes, none of which I had to share because I only had one sister who, as opposed to me, was lithe and lanky vs my vertically challenged form that wore clothing ending in "X".
I had my Lemon Twist, a bicycle, some books, and a few knick knacks.
I well remember when I got my own bedroom. It was during this 11-12 year old period. We had moved to Pennsylvania and the house had four bedrooms. Up to that point in life, I had shared with my sister. Her being an older sister, "shared" meant "never put one toe over the imaginary line into Kimberliestan.
This "bedroom" I got to myself was in actuality more of a glorified closet, the previous owners having used it for storage. But it had a window, a tiny makeshift closet, some shelves, and four walls. It barely fit my bed, but it was my space. My dad and a friend spent a Saturday laying down pink carpet (some remnant they found for $10 - again, NOT a huge space to cover), and then I shut the door to the world.
Because I had one other thing I could call my own. A radio.
I spent countless hours drifting away on the tunes of the 70s, staring out my window, fantasizing about the day my clothing would lose the "X" and I would find some boy to Dance The Night Away with, feeling alive, Stayin' Alive.
During this time period, I became a radio contest maven. If they were giving it away, I wanted to win it. I won money, fair tickets, movie tickets, Kennywood Park tickets. But the coveted jewel in my contest crown was the day I was the 10th caller and won 25 albums from a Pittsburgh radio station.
25 albums. When you're 12 years old, that is HUGE.
I still remember taking the bus downtown with my grandmother, finding the station, and picking up my haul. Back at her duplex, I spread them out on the floor, and there it was. Among the Yvonne Elliman, Fleetwood Mac, Meat Loaf, and Judas Priest was the iconic cover...
Yes, I had heard those amazing songs over and over during my self imposed isolation in my bedroom, but now I had them in my possession, and they were mine to listen to whenever I wanted.
(OK, ok, whenever my sister wasn't using the stereo to play Barbra and my parents weren't cranking John Denver.)
The Bee Gees were, quite simply, a huge part of my musical formative years. Yes, music had played a part in my even younger days (Monkees, Bobby Sherman, etc), but I was in middle school now and music was beginning to be a part of how we identified ourselves.
Listening to their insane harmonies, soaring falsettos, and magical lyrics - life was great. I may have been way too young to enter Studio 54, but it didn't stop me from perfecting The Bus Stop in my living room. And I obsessed over pictures of the Bee Gees - all of them - Barry, with his lion's mane of hair (surely the inspiration for Mufasa in Lion King); Maurice, loved his sexy beard; and Robin, the quiet one with his own Pantene locks and sweet smile. And let's be honest - all of them wore pants tight enough that you could see their pulses - that was especially titillating to a 12 year old for whom "sex" was still a very mysterious concept.
It wasn't until many, many years later when Saturday Night Fever made its way to HBO that I was finally able to connect the songs they sang and I loved, with the scenes they so perfectly backdropped.
To this day, if I stumble across SNF on cable, I will stop what I am doing and settle in for a trip back in time.
And to this day, the Bee Gees remain in heavy rotation, not on a sterio, but on my iPod. Jive Talkin' is a perfect workout song. And I love when I run across something very early of theirs on Sirius 6, like I Started A Joke.- one of the few Bee Gees tunes on which Robin Gibb took the lead.
Today, the music world is quieter for his passing over the weekend, and no one is laughing.
But I, for one, would like to thank him and his brothers for the music that started this young girl living.
Rest in peace, Robin.