November 1, 2013
Nashville Miracles–Part II
As promised, here is the second part of my report on the Nashville adventure. Hope GSI and all sites enjoy sharing it and know that the fans who represented all Bee Gee lovers around the globe were thinking of all who could not be present. We wish you could have been there, and maybe this article will help you feel a part of the events.
Arriving back at my hotel after watching Barry’s appearance at MTSU, I posted photos and started writing, unable to sleep more than an hour or two. There’s something about the reality of being really up close and personalizing with someone you’ve been thinking about and singing with and admiring for most of your life. It just doesn’t sink into your consciousness that you actually were right there with him. It’s kind of a fuzzy dream-like state that takes over your mind. Most fans have imagined what it would be like to actually talk with or “hang” with one of their personal idols. We all dream of what would happen. I’ve listened to almost every story one could think of from “I want to run my fingers through his hair” to “I want to eat sushi with him”. What? Where did that one come from? For me personally, an autograph or concert isn’t enough. I play the scenario in my head of a serious conversation. I have so many questions, and I’ve invested so much of my life in “Gibb dedication” that I deserve a discussion. Well, that dream aside, I was in another dream-like state on Tuesday morning as I drove to my hotel to meet other Bee Gee fans who had come long distances for Barry’s Opry performance. Safely situated in Room 311, laptop on desk, I called Debbi from Ft. Lauderdale, who had arrived earlier, and asked her to come up to make plans. Now here’s another dream-like moment. Debbi walked into my room, we began to chat, and that feeling of “I’ve known you in another life” came over me. This scenario repeated itself throughout the day as I met other Bee Gee fans I had only known on Facebook. Bee Gee people share a common bond that the rest of the poor souls in the world are not privy to….the love, passion, dedication, obsession, whatever one wants to call it, is deeply ingrained, and we all know that we can trust and feel safe around one another because no Bee Gee fan is uncool. Later in the day Debbi and I met Holly, along with Amy and Connie and her husband, who were from Illinois. Everyone I met on this day was a Barry devotee, speaking of him with great affection. They had the music in common, the music which, I heard from many, helped them through cancer treatments, divorce, the death of a lover, and a myriad of life’s challenges. I had to take a long, deep breath more than once as I felt the emotion in peoples’ voices and saw it on their faces as well. Little miracles from the music. A group of us had an early dinner and then headed over to Opryland. The massive guitar outside of the theater is a favorite spot for taking photos, and many fans were gathering long before the show was to begin. Opryland is a fun place. The country music capital of the world, Nashville is a friendly, positive city, and this particular theater has a long and revered history. Any performing artist of today is honored to stand on its stage. The theater is an intimate one, with an old-world charm, and there’s not a bad seat in the house. Although we missed meeting with Heide, Alex and Laura, we knew they were inside the theater with us. Seated to the left in the very front, I had close proximity to the stage, which was wonderful. I was wearing my “Children of the World” t-shirt and got tapped on the shoulder by a fan seated behind me. Our conversation turned out to be one of my best stories ever. It was time to pull out the pencil and pad as Gayle from Kansas City recounted her tale of love for Barry Gibb. She was 10 when she first became a fan. She said, “the second I heard his voice, I was a fan forever”. Saturday Night Fever got her into dancing, and she took lessons at Arthur Murray Dance Studio. She was a young ticket agent for TWA airlines at the time but told me that the Bee Gees “inspired me to quit TWA and dance for a living”. She said, “Their music changed my life, and I’ve been teaching dance for 30 years.” She made it clear that “no other artist has ever moved me like Barry. His lyrics mean so much.” Gayle’s new dream now is to open a “dance bar” that plays Bee Gee music. Sitting behind Gayle were fans I had met at MTSU the night before, and I recognized many faces around me. Just before the show began, I glanced to my left to see Stephen Gibb standing there. I said hello and got a hello, a smile and a firm handshake. Gibb men have a “coolness” gene, no doubt. Now, the Opry show is unique, since it is broadcast live over the radio, complete with announcer (on stage right at podium), so there are breaks between performances and there are commercials. Normally several artists perform for each show. On this night, five artists were scheduled to sing before Barry, with Ricky Skaggs to follow Barry’s performance. I could feel the momentum building as the other artists sang. The announcer would periodically welcome fans, who were from every corner of the country, including Oregon, Idaho and New York, as well as Canada. Montgomery Gentry took the stage right before Barry. They are two very popular men whose musical style is high energy and in-your-face country passion. The audience cheered them, and they deserved it. Then there was a break, and one could feel the shift in the energy of the room, like little electric shocks running through the air. When Barry was introduced, the auditorium erupted in applause. Dressed all in black, Barry looked imposing. Now there’s a difference between Barry Gibb performing and the rest of the world performing, and this is not a subjective opinion, just a fact. Everyone else was just a warm-up for the main event. By now, through the magic of social media, everyone on the planet can listen to the songs Barry performed. What they can’t do is experience the feeling of being in the theater when he sang. “To Love Somebody” was just as strong, clear and passionate as ever before. His duet with Kelly Lang, the sweetest girl in Nashville, was lovely. “Words” is just other-worldly, and no words can describe the aura of the theater as he sang it. It is a signature piece and sends waves of emotional energy through the fans’ bodies right to their hearts. Of course, Barry received standing ovations and the announcer was quick to tell the radio audience, “they’re on their feet for Barry Gibb–a standing ovation”. Barry waved a goodbye to the crowd and was gone. Knowing that Ricky Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder were not about to let Barry go without performing with them, I was excited to hear what they would sing together. When Ricky took the stage, he made it clear to the audience that Barry needed to be part of the finale, and Barry returned to the stage amid rapturous applause. The big surprise of the night was the song choice for the duet, “Stayin’ Alive”, the extended Bluegrass version. This was a blockbuster performance; and when Barry hit the falsetto, the crowd screamed its appreciation and jumped to its feet. Barry, obviously gratified by the crowd’s response, hugged his close friend, waved to the fans, hugged Ricky again, and then the curtain came down. It was an emotion-filled performance…..miraculous. Several fans met Barry when they took the preregistered backstage tour after the concert. Luckily, Barry was still there, and Amy told me she cried as she shook his hand. That’s what it’s all about, the man and the music that mattered the most for years and making a new memory of it. I spent weeks trying to figure out what “tag” phrase to put on my blog website a year ago. I finally decided on “The Gibb Effect”. After witnessing two very different Barry Gibb performances, I thought about what Barry and his music had just done. He had changed students’ lives, opening their eyes to his artistry and teaching them what great songwriting is about; he’d crossed genres, thrilling country music lovers, and he’d reinforced long-time fans’ special memories, giving them new ones to hold close in heart. Yes, he did it all alone. However, Bee Gee fans around the world know he’s never in a solitary place. Robin and Maurice are ever a part of every performance. Destiny has led him to this place to carry on sharing the music, always spreading “The Gibb Effect”. Thank you. Barry.