Significant Songs (101)

How Can You Mend A Broken Heart

In the early 1970s, I heard a new song from the Australian group, The Bee Gees. It was a plaintive love song, delivered in their usual style, with high-pitched voices, and distinctive falsetto. I thought it was a good song, but the Bee Gees were not very high up my list of favoured recording artists at the time, so I more or less forgot about it.

About a year later, I bought the new long player from Al Green, titled ‘Let’s Stay Together’, after his big hit single of the time. On this record, he did a cover version of the Bee Gees song, and it was obvious from the moment I heard it, that it was also the definitive version. It suited his voice perfectly, and he didn’t mess around with the structure too much, just letting his own vocal skills, and the song’s mournful mood, steal the show completely.

Although it was not released as a single in the UK, it was later used extensively on film soundtracks, always at the saddest moments, naturally. You may well know it from the hugely successful film, ‘Notting Hill’, or one of the other films it featured in. I was already a fan of the soulful vocals of Al Green, from previous hits such as ‘Tired Of Being Alone,’ which was later successfully covered by the British band, Texas. This particular song remains one of his best, in my opinion, and I can happily listen to it over and over again.

Since 1981, Green has worked as a preacher. He is now known as The Reverend Al Green, and continues to preach in Tennessee. Here is the version from that album.

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9 thoughts on “Significant Songs (101)

  1. It took me a while to recognize the Bee Gees song here. As for the Bee Gees, some of their early songs are fine with me. I don’t care for the falsetto style, but the tunes are catchy. Perhaps all of their songs would see improvement with a bit of soul to update them.

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    1. I agree that they wrote some good songs, especially for the film ‘Saturday Night Fever.’ It’s just the high-pitched vocals that get a little wearing after a while.
      Thanks, David. Best wishes, Pete.

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