For the brothers, it has always begun with the songs, those
marvelous melodies around which they wrap their exquisite harmonies. Still Waters Run
Deep has 12 new songs (with two other beautiful ballads slated to be bonus tracks on
the first two CD-singles). It is perhaps their best collection of compositions ever. And
while there is no overriding lyrical theme to the album, the Bee Gees do approach the
making of an album with one common viewpoint -that every song be a fully-polished gem, a
potential single, a song that will last and, lastly and perhaps most importantly, a song
that says something vital about the human condition. So, in an attempt to tap into the
source of their magic, we began this conversation with a discussion of the moment of
Q: You've had a prolific career. The brothers have composed probably close to five
hundreds songs. Can you explain where they come from?
BARRY GIBB: "No. That's a big black hole [laughs] in the back of your head. It comes
from just strumming and singing and not singing any particular song, just singing
anything. Like scatting or making up things as you go along. Improvisation. We improvise
for about an hour, just at any level, whether it is a melody or whether it's an idea or
it's a shape that we should look at. We record every single thing we do. It goes on DAT.
So even the rubbish is there, but if you sift through the rubbish, you find something that
you came up with that you forgot about. And so we do a lot of that process. Just scat
Q: Do you tend to write to a title?
ROBIN GIBB: "Titles can inspire a song. 'My Lover's Prayer' and 'I Surrender'
were titles first. We've always done that. Way back when we used to write songs like 'Holiday.'
We'd say, 'Let's get a name.' We could write a song about anything. And somebody said,
'Holiday.' And we wrote a song called 'Holiday.' That's how we've always
done our music."
MAURICE GIBB: "Sometimes we'll have something that one of us is humming or singing
some melody with just a line, and we'll say 'That's a good title.' 'You Win Again'
came up that way. Sometimes, we'll even have a list of titles before we go in."
Q: Do you write at the piano or with guitars?
M.G: "Usually, we write with guitars and piano; sometimes, it's just two acoustic
guitars. Like 'Heartbreaker."'
Q: When you have a writing session, does it always lead to a finished song?
B.G: "If halfway through a song, the sense between all of us is, 'This is okay, but
we don't love it,' it doesn't get done."
R.G: "If we have an idea and it doesn't work, then we'll come back to it another day.
It doesn't always work when we get together. For example, 'Fanny.' That
didn't feel like it was gonna work for a while, and we kept working on it."
B.G: "It's organic. I mean, you just keep writing and you just keep singing and the
things that stick to the wall---that's the stuff you end up finishing. The ones we
collectively love the most. The ones that end up being records. There's a whole bunch of
stuff in pieces all over the place. I'm sure every group has things on the shelf things on
a cupboard that you might like bits of, but you just never really could bring yourself to
finish. And I wonder if that applies to everybody who writes. I don't know. But it does to
us. So everything on this album, we love."
Q: For this album, how many songs do you think you didn't finish, just threw away?
M.G: "I think three. Usually, when we 're into a good idea, the song would never be
completed if its not working. If all we have is a riff and it doesn't work, then we'll go
in another direction. And something usually comes out of that."
Q: Do you ever take pieces of unfinished songs and put them together?
M.G: "Very rarely. The latest we'll go back is the night before. We may come up with
something one night, and the next night, we may be trying to perfect it and we'll say,
'You sang a verse last night that was really good. What was that melody?' And then we'll
play the DAT tape from last night. 'Yeah. That piece there. We can put that in the---.'
But we never go back to a song we wrote a year ago and say, 'Let's rewrite this and try
and make it today or more contemporary' because it just doesn't work. We'd rather just
start fresh and write a new one."
Q: Creating music seems like such a personal thing. How do the three brothers work
R.G: "I don't think it's changed very much over the years. The style of writing songs
doesn't change at all, really. We have a cassette player in the middle of a table, and we
sit around with the guitars and keyboards and shoot out ideas. I don't think you can do it
any other way, really. Melody first, lyrics second"
M.G: "It's something that we've been gifted with, and we've just nurtured all the
years. It's something that happens, and we all get into the same 'zone.' It's the only
word I can use to describe it. That it clicks. That's why if one of us is a little off
that night, it's like, 'I don't feel too good tonight.' We don't write. Because we need
that input. We need to be joined like a chain. If there's a broken link, we can't do it
B.G: "I think it's an ongoing process of us finding what we love about the music we
make. Just what do we love? And not what does someone else love. At this point of our
lives, it's really important that the songs we record are things we love. Are something we
really believe in rather than somebody sitting in an office saying, 'Well, I believe in
whatever you guys put out.' That's sort of all wrong to me."
Q: Robin, I've always thought of you as the avant garde wing of the group.
R.G: "I think that probably I'm a little left field than the others. I think that's
the kind of balance that works in the Bee Gees. There's little twists and turns here and
there, and the unusual titles, and very unusual bent on some of the songs."
Q: What keeps you from going too far out?
R.G: "Barry. I think we have our checks and balances."
Q: Where does the emotion of the song come from?
R.G: "As long as the song is right, the emotion will carry the song from the very
beginning. That's important."
Q: How is the creative work divided?
M.G: "I'm not really that fluent in lyrics. Barry and Robin are more in that area.
I'm more into arranging them, trying to paint the picture."
Q: Do you start to hear the arrangement as the song is coming out?
M.G: "Oh yeah. Sometimes, it's an epic. They [Barry and Robin] go, 'What the heck are
you doing? Stop it. Stop thinking that.' But we usually all have the same picture."
Q: Are you each other's biggest influences?
R.G: "The black music grooves me, influences me the most. The three of us, still get
our inspiration from black music. It's the most innovative in terms of grooves."
M.G: "I would say I think we're each other's reason for what we do. I don't think
influence is right. It's more like we're each other's best friend. We know so much about
each other. When you grow up with two other guys, we would see someone or something that
would influence one or the other of us to go another way in the writing. For instance, if
we're writing a song, Barry may do some movement on the guitar, and I know where he's
gonna go. But I don't think it's an influence. We just know it's there...it's a feeling
that we all have."
Q: Listening to your work over the years, it seems like you really pour your emotions into
writing each song. How does that work when it comes time to recording them?
B.G: "I think that a singer, or in our case, whoever is singing the song, is really
feeling those feelings, so I suppose it's acting in a sense. But at the same time, all of
the things from your childhood, all the things you've experienced in different countries
growing up. I mean, we've had so many strange experiences in our lives; that's all part
and parcel of it as well. The idea of traveling half-way around the world on a ship when
we were children to go to Australia. To be in Africa, in India, to be at the Pyramids as a
child. God knows what effect those kinds of experiences have on a kid growing up who wants
to be a writer. It's bound to have a fascinating effect."
Q: How much do you think about the lyrics when you're recording?
R.G: "It's important to be emotional when you're singing it. To capture the feel. But
you're trying to make a record too, so you're more conscious of the lyric after you've
recorded it than you are when you're singing it. You think about it more afterwards."
Q: How do you decide who's going to sing lead?
M.G: "When we're writing it, if Barry happens to be singing it or Robin, they
naturally take those leads. Sometimes, we write especially for Robin's voice. 'Cause each
of our voices is an instrument. There used to be a real big argument. I would say, 'Why am
I not singing? Why don't I have more leads? Now, unless a song suits my voice, it doesn't
matter. But those harmonies--- we always like to have those. That's what's
Q: How do you work out the harmony arrangements?
M.G: "They just come out automatically. We'll be doing it while we're writing. We're
thinking of where we're going to go with this song, and the harmonies will fall into that.
Sometimes, we'll be doing the vocals and we'll say, 'It would be nice if we did this in
harmony and did this counter line,' 'cause we already have a rough idea of what we did
when we wrote it. So the arrangement usually comes from the writing. When we do the
vocals, we perfect it. We clean it up. And we'll go 'Oh, we missed four lines. We'll have
to write four lines for that counter melody.' So we'll do that on the spot or the next
R.G: "Sometimes, they're spontaneous. Sometimes, they're worked out. As for where we
sing and when we don't sing, it's not something that happens by accident. We definitely
work that out later when we put the album down."
M. G: That was one of the first ones we wrote for the album. I
really remember having a good time writing it. We were sort of set up in the studio here
with the three of just together and I got some bagpipe sounds. We were just screwing
around. And BG programmed this groove on the computer. We thought it was cool. We don't
actually go in and plan to write a ballad or an R&B song. We just say, 'let's go that
route.' And we'll follow it. And Alone came out of that. I love the line 'I'm on a 'Wheel
of fortune with a twist of fate.' Because of the harmony and that chorus, it was like a
bit of '50s as well. And I like the idea of being that sort of Beatlesque type of song. I
wanted that rambling. That sort of Byrds type, the twelve string thing going, but we just
did it with the bagpipes instead and made it all connect. It was a very exciting demo. We
weren't too sure about the bagpipes, but Robin actually persisted. He said, 'They're
great; you gotta keep the bagpipes.'
R.G: Maurice played the bagpipes. They were just an idea to make it rock. I don't
know...there's just something haunting about bagpipes in rock music. It's very driving.
It's been used on Phil Collins' records. I think it just worked on that song.
B.G: What the song's really about is that little child inside. It's that abstract feeling
we all have. That no matter how close or how many relatives we have or how many people
around us we love, we still feel alone. There's an aloneness about all of us. That 'How do
I, why is it always end up alone?' Well, I'm not alone, but I might feel alone, that no
one really thinks the way I do. I guess that's because everybody's unique in their own
way. We all do feel the same way about most things, but why is it that nobody feels the
same way I do about everything? So you're alone. You have that feeling sometimes.
Q: Even with all your success and the close-knit nature of your family, you still feel
B.G: Absolutely. At the end of the day, you're the one that gets into bed. It's all inside
of you, in your head. The same way my wife gets into bed; she has her little world, too.
And sometimes she feels like she's alone. She'll turn round to me and she'll say 'I told
Travis [one of Barry and Linda's four sons] that he did this wrong, and he did that wrong,
and you have to support me. You have to say, 'It's wrong' too, instead of saying, 'Oh,
don't be angry at Travis.' So, everybody sometimes feels isolated. I feel, 'Why can't I
get the support that I want when I want it.' So for all of us, there's that kind of
Q: Does the music cure that 'Alone feeling'?
B.G: I don't know if it's something that has to be cured. I think it's there for us to
observe, and there for us to learn from. Because I'm not alone. I only think I'm alone.
And that's there with all of us.
Q: But doesn't music help fill people's lives...kind of a salve on feelings like being
alone? People can listen to your records and when they hear you feel the same way they do,
they feel less alone.
B.G: Yeah. But you don't do it because you think it might help somebody. It's really just
a way of expressing yourself. It's something you have to do. And maybe you're exorcising
your own demons by writing songs or by writing books. I don't know. But my feeling is that
I'm probably exorcising demons. 'How Can You Mend A Broken Heart' was really written about
the three brothers coming back together again. Everything has a certain basis behind it,
and yet, it's a love song.
Q: When you hear one of your songs on the radio, do you feel less alone?
B.G: No. You feel great that someone's playing it, but I don't know if you've gotten cured
of something or whether you feel better for it. It's just not related in that way.
R.G: A longing and appealing song. [reciting the lyric] 'From
the highest tower, I will call you home.' It's really about giving up everything for
B.G: And all that that entails. That's really very simplistic. It doesn't have a deep
meaning to it. It's basically, 'You surrender yourself up to the other person."
M.G: I love the chorus harmony. I love that sort of very simple chord progression. It's
'Euro-American.' That's the only way I can describe it. It really shows the harmonies off,
and I did pizzicato strings in the background. Like Enya. The actual record was very much
like the demo.
"I could not love you more"
B.G: It's really absolutely committed, unconditional love. So it might sound like me
singing to my wife. In one sense, that's what it's about. But it can also be about someone
you just met. It can be about two people who are really sleeping together for the first
time. So, I think it's about both.
M.G: It's something I always wanted to say...that 'I could not love you more, but it'll
R.G: It's kind of what I call an 'appeal' song. It doesn't so much say that he's got the
person. He's just telling the person how he feels if it was to be the case, and I think
the songs that have the biggest appeal are songs that are about missing someone...where
somebody has gone, and they're longing for someone... torch songs. I think when you write
a love song, it has to be about not really having the person. You're appealing to them or
M.G: Most of the songs we've written that have been successful have been written quickly.
One weekend, during the 'Sgt. Pepper' film, we wrote 'Tragedy' and 'Too Much Heaven' in
about two and a half hours one Saturday afternoon. And 'Shadow Dancing' with Andy that
same night. That wasn't including lyrics; this was just the melodies...the songs. The
reason I tell you that is to tell you about this one. We were working on a song, I can't
remember the title of it now. We had a title, and we were working on the idea for two
hours. Something wasn't right. So we all sort of said, 'It's not really gettin' there, is
it?' And then we decided, 'Okay, let's call it a night.' It was quarter to ten. 'We'll
come back in tomorrow, and we'll start fresh.' Or 'Maybe we'll take tomorrow off and come
in the next day.' That's the beauty of having your own studio; we can really write when we
feel like it because if one of us is not well, we can't write. It's like, 'Let's just all
come back when we're all sort of in the same zone. So we started walking out, and I just
had the piano and strings 'midied' up. Sounded gorgeous. And if I just played softly, I'd
have strings. So I started playing the intro to what became 'I Could Not Love You More.'
Started playing the chords. Barry came back in, Robin came back in, sat down, and we wrote
it within fifteen minutes. Just put it straight to DAT. Next day, came in, put down a
whole demo of it with the key boards, took that home, wrote the lyrics the next day, came
in, did the vocals and then sent the demo off to David Foster.
"With my eyes closed"
B.G: The song is basically about love at great distance. When you can't be with the person
you love. And you want to tell them, and you want to send a message. When I was a kid, I
would lie in bed at night, and I had a crush on this girl, and I would talk to her going
to sleep. I would always make believe that she could hear what I was saying. And she used
to say the same thing to me. So that little thing, that little relationship that I had
when I was fourteen years old has always sort of stuck with me. I guess we all did that,
you know, the first time you fall in love. But to me, that's what the song means. I can
touch you. You don't have to be bad. Sex isn't just it. There's all kinds of feelings.
[reciting the lyrics] 'I can touch you with my eyes closed. I can feel you when you're
near me. I can see you with my else closed. I can touch you with my hands tied' And all of
those feelings are really what goes through your head when you're really in love, and the
person you love is very far away.
M.G: We needed something a little funkier, and we just had this idea just swimmin'
around...had it for a while. Then, we just sort of got into a good order that felt a bit
more sensual, a bit more on the seedy side. We didn't have anything like that on the
Q: Robin.. .you're singing a great counterpoint line. What is the feeling you're going for
R.G: It's a play on a medieval hymn sound, like Gregorian chanting, which I'm a great big
fan of. I've always tried to do it, encourage it, influence it on the album, in our
albums. Obviously, we've not always got an opportunity to do it.
"Still waters run deep"
B.G: This was a melody in the car. It came to me in the jeep. As most things do. I
was driving home, and I was driving to the studio, and the melody hit me. And just the
[singing] 'Still Waters Run Deep'---just that little phrasing. I thought, 'Yeah.' So I
sang it to Robin and Maurice, and we enlarged it. We found out what it was about.
M.G: This one was really quick. The title is more autobiography than the song. Being
brothers for so long and doing what we've been doing for so long, because we've been
having so much fun. We've had great times, but we've had our moments, our tragedies. We've
been through a lot of stuff together.
B.G: That was the first real light on this album that felt like 'This is a special song.
We got the same buzz from 'Still Waters...' that we got when we did 'Islands In The
Stream.' The same buzz when you know something is strong. Whether it's a hit or not is
another question, but there's a strength in the song. And the song has a core; the song
has a life of it's own.
Q: Which is?
B.G: It's about this deception that we lay on each other at all times, including the
concept of romance. That people are always thinking so many other things than you think
they are when you're talking to them. And that lies destroy relationships.
"My lover's prayer"
Q: "My Lover's Prayer" sounds contemporary but it seems older, like something
from the '50s.
R.G: That was done on purpose. You couldn't really have done it any other way. But I don't
think that really matters because it's a vocal song. And the feel of it is actually about
the harmonies. It's like Frank Zappa said just before he died, 'All music of the '90s is
derivative of the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s.' So there's no such thing as definitive '90s
B.G: Its basically the same thought as 'With My eyes Closed,' but we wanted to do a '50s
song...the kinds of song we used to love in the '50s like 'Earth Angel' or 'Teen Angel,'
which, in fact, we used to actually perform on stage. You can't imagine a song like that
being a hit today, could you? A song about being killed in a car crash. But those songs
were. Some of those songs used to be so sad. But we wanted to do a sort of lover's prayer,
like a teenage lament.
M.G: This is more of a Bee Gees ballad...a very sentimental type of thing. That's what I
love about it. And Russ did a great job. In fact, some friends in England asked me to make
a loop of this for them, 'cause it was great to make love to. [laughs] I said 'I can't.
It's only the demo. You can't have it.' So even before it's out, it's already affected a
lot of people.
Q: Barry...On this song, you sing the lyric "In the face of incredible odds."
That could almost sum up your entire life.
B.G: Maybe it does in an abstract form because I've always seen it as an uphill battle.
It's never been---our success or any achievement that you may chalk up to us has always
been done in the face of incredible odds. Nobody's ever really believed that we could do
it. When we first left Australia, everybody said, 'Don't go to England. You'll never make
it.' Then, when we 'made it,' 'Well, they can't do it again.' But we did. But by 1974, we
had gone years without a hit record and everybody said, 'Well that's it. We've had the Bee
Gees. They were here, and they've gone. Next decade.' So, it's always looked like a
mountain to climb. And we've just gone ahead and got our picks and started climbing. And
many, many times, it's been said to us, 'This is the end of the road.' And we refuse to
B.G: An irresistible force meeting an immovable object. That is life, isn't
it? That is really a way of saying that, life just never really is a good clear,
luck-filled path. There's an obstacle at every turn. It's a like a fantastic video game.
And there's always going to be an immovable object.
Q: Have there been irresistible forces and immovable objects in your life?
R.G: I don't think it's autobiographical in that way. It's actually written in terms of...
It's like acting. We're creating a scenario within the song.
Q: What do you remember from the writing and making of it?
M.G: We love to try different ways of approaching songs, and this is an another unusual
one. To us, it sounds so different. I particularly like the release section where' Robin
does that wonderful, lovely voice. There's a lot of things going on, counter melodies and
that little bridge section at the end of each chorus with all the harmonies and they just
drop off, and it comes back again. Just getting those harmonies so they scream out and
dissolve into nothingness. It was fun doing that, different tempo going into a different
change into a different move.
Q: Robin...Can you explain what you're feeling when you're singing a lyric like "time
of our lives?"
R.G: I can't really. I Just know that it's singing about longing. I have that kind of
voice. I don't know how to express it in words. But it is a feeling more than an
expression. It's so hard to say what I'm feeling: But it has to haunt me.
Q: The lyric refers to "fair weather friends." Anybody particular in mind?
B.G: It probably just has something to do with people being close to you when you're up
and disappearing when you're down which sort of has happened to us over the years.
Q: You seem to take everyday phrases and give them new meaning...
R.G: Yeah. To make a normal sound, play on normal, turning it into a slight twist. We've
always done that.
B.G: That's always been the game we've sort of played...to try to say things that are
really very simple to say but say them in an abstract form. And so a lot of our lyrics
sometimes don't make obvious sense, but they do to the particular listener. And depending
on who you are and what your way of life is, you can relate to things. The main idea of a
personal God comes through in that song, like you get to find your 'personal God.' And I
think that's a far greater statement than it might have been thirty or forty years ago.
Now, you can have a personal God. Now, you can go find it. I wanted to call the song
'Personal God,' but it seemed like the other title was demanding to be heard more. But it
was part of and parcel of the same thing.
"Closer than close"
B.G: A love song, Maurice's way of talking to his wife.
M.G: A fun track. We worked with Peter Vettesse, a great programmer and keyboard player
who was on our ESP album. Scottish lad. Looks like a very small Steven Spielberg. We wrote
this one with me in mind. You pick the instrument, you write the song and say 'This would
be good for Maurice.' We made it a sexier song. Lyrically, I thought it was great, to have
been 'closer than close' to you... Most of the songs, when you think about it, all mean
the same thing, they're all love songs.
Q: Does it ever get tough to come up with new things to say about love?
M.G: We've never sort of dried up in that area. We've definitely gotten weirder as
writers, approaching things in a different way. So we've always found other ways of saying
'I love you. I want to be with you. I don't want this to end. Life's beautiful, let's get
on with it.' But without hitting it on the head.
R.G: One of my favorites. To me, just a great love song. And a great Arif production.
Written in England in the summer of '95.
M.G: Sitting around Barry's house. Just at a keyboard and guitar with a mike set up.
Demoe'd it there too, put echo on and stuff to make it sound like a real record, just like
we did when we were kids. We had this old Grundig tape recorder with a superimpose switch
on it, and you get a delay. It's funny. All these years, we've always written the same
way. The only things that's changed is the technology...Arif Mardin put his magic touch on
B.G: This is a three-person song. A triangle is also a lot of fun to write about. If this
person doesn't stand by you, then I will. I'll be there. And you can reject me, and that's
okay. And I'll go away, but I'll come back because I don't believe the guy you love is
really the right person for you. I believe am, and I'll come back if he disappears. 'I can
take it. You can have a two-person song, three or four personalities [laughs] which maybe
you don't want to write about.
M.G: Very R&B orientated. Like 'I Will,' which Arif also did, they were the two
ballads at the time. They're not like what we thought they would be in the first place.
They got bigger and better as we went along. It's a nice touch to have the real strings.
B.G: 'Obsessions' is really fetishes isn't it? A lot of sensual implications in that song.
Being obsessed with somebody, obsession-compulsion, following them around. These days you
have stalkers, this kind of element in society that you didn't really used to have before.
Used to call it courting [laughs]. Now it's a crime.
R.G: [laughing] We thought we'd have a stalking song on the album.
Q: Do you ever feel compelled...obsessed with making music, singing your special
B.G: I think once you find you can do it, you really want to do it. And you really want to
keep trying to do it better. So its part of that. We love singing in harmony, so we'll
experiment with harmonies. We'll rnulti-track, and we'll go crazy, not unlike what Brian
Wilson did. We'll try to find out what kind of harmonies we could come up with. How many
harmonies we could use to make a statement or indeed, how few.
Q: The album is really quite a showcase for the group's singing?
B.G: To me, it's multiple things. I'd like to think that it's also a showcase for the
craft. The craft of writing a song and the craft of bringing that song to life by the way
you sing it, the craft of making an album. To one person, it'll be 'Listen to the way that
song has been written, listen to the shape of that song and how different the shape of
that song is to what we deal with as traditional or normal.'
R.G: One of the first songs we had written for the album, and the one we least expected to
B.G: This was really written a couple of years ago for 'Miracle on 34th Street,' for the
end credits of the film. But then the director decided he only wanted traditional
Christmas songs in the film and no new songs. So we thought, 'Let's not throw it away.
Let's keep it, and maybe it'll be a Christmas song for us one day.'
M.G: Then, Hugh Padgham added a few more touches, and I did a bit more keyboard. We all
got together and made it a bit better, I still think it's a great, Christmas-y type song.
I suppose that will always be in my mind, because it was written for that kind of film.
Q: There's a choir on the track...
B.G: The 'New World' Children's Choir. They came and sang the section 'Red,' 'Blue,'
'Black' and 'White.' Which is what children see at Christmas. They see color. Toys are
color. Everything's color. And isn't it amazing how vivid colors were when we were
children? Not so vivid now, but the concept that colors seem to be more vivid when we were
children because they were fresh. But we used children for that purpose, because it didn't
seem like something grown-ups should say. It had to be children singing it.
Q: What do you think is the biggest miracle for you?
B.G: My daughter. Without any hesitation. We had four boys in a row, we didn't think we
could have a little girl, and it's just been an incredible thing. She's five years old,
and I can't wait to get home. I don't like being without her for a second.
"Smoke and mirrors"
B.G: I think this is a really important statement. The world of illusion, the idea that
none of us are really what we seem to be. All of these songs are not just songs as such.
There's a lot of examination of yourself in these songs. The album itself is about a
romanticism, mysticism, looking inward, self-examination, relationships, so it's a lot
more than a bunch of songs. Somebody who is looking for a hit single won't notice that,
but a true listener will.
M.G: This was an experimental track that turned out to be a lot of fun We spent a lot more
time on this one, doing technical overdubs and things like that to make it stand out more,
to funk more, to really groove along. We thought of this as the album title, but then we
thought, 'No. People will think we're deceiving them.' But 'Smoke And Mirrors" is
R.G: It's a surreal type of song. It could mean anything. It's a hard one to explain; I
think Barry could best explain that one.
B.G: We write from life observation. So, we'll go away and just observe the culture. And
just for me, the one phrase that epitomizes the whole of last year [l995] is 'Smoke &
Mirrors.' The way we sort of sit and around and talk about, 'What do we do about
starvation in Zaire?' We all sit down and talk. And you see all these people around big
tables talking about starvation in Zaire instead of actually doing something. And
meanwhile, thousands more children have died within the last hour, and no one really gives
it that kind of level of thought. To me, that's the way this last year has been on a world
Q: You told me that the title came from a phrase that was used by the lawyers in a certain
notorious murder trial.
B.G: Whether it's Zaire or the O.J. Simpson trial or the way we are as a country. You
observe the culture, you take it in and things ferment and ideas come from that. And I
kept hearing this phrase all year, and that is really how life is today, it's all smoke
and mirrors. That's what the song is.
Q: It's really not a title that people would associate with you. People think that they
know what the Bee Gees are. They don't think of them as being deceptive.
B.G: We're about as solid as you can be in this kind of the way everyone lives today. It's
pretty much on the edge no matter how you try to live. And it's a good family, but I have
to say that writing songs is a bit like acting. You're not really writing about your own
unhappiness. You're assuming a role. You see it happening today in society, and you see
somebody in a situation. I would probably as a best example use Paul McCartney's 'Eleanor
Rigby.' He's not 'Eleanor Rigby,' but he assumed that role to write about that