The prompts for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, hosted by Jim Adams, are Disgust, Embarrassment, Guilt, Regret, Remorse and Shame suggested by Melanie B Cee aka Sparky of Sparks From A Combustible Mind. I thought they were difficult at first but then I remembered a song by Barry Gibb and Barbra Streisand called ’Guilty’ I hope you enjoy it.
“Guilty” is a vocal duet between Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb. The song was written by all three Bee Gees: Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb. Released as a single from Streisand’s 1980 album of the same name. “Guilty” peaked at No. 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 5 on the adult contemporary chart. In the UK, the song reached No. 34 on the UK Singles Chart. The single was certified gold by the RIAA. In addition, “Guilty” won a Grammy Award in the category Best Pop Vocal Performance, Duo or Group. The song also appeared on the 2001 Bee Gees compilation, Their Greatest Hits: The Record.
The funny thing about Guilty is that while it’s credited as a Barbra Streisand album, it’s essentially a Bee Gees album with Streisand singing on it. Barry Gibb did much of the work on the album including writing, producing, and arranging. He plays guitar and sings much of the backing vocals as well as a couple of songs with Streisand including the title track. And the album cover shows Streisand and Gibb nestled with each other in white clothing against a white backdrop. Streisand wasn’t trying to hide the connection. Despite the massive backlash against the group at the time, the public was perfectly fine with hearing the Bee Gees in a supporting role.
The idea for Guilty came from Streisand who after attending a Bee Gees concert at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium approached the group about having them collaborate with her on her new album. The initial plan was for the Bee Gees to write and produce half the album but Streisand liked the songs they wrote so much that she and Barry wound up working on the entire album. “Guilty” was written by Barry along with his brothers and bandmates Robin and Maurice Gibb, the only song on the album with writing credits from all three Bee Gees, with Barry producing alongside regular collaborators Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson.
“Guilty,” the album’s first track, was an obvious choice for a lead single but Streisand and her label Columbia held back on releasing it. By this point, Streisand had hit #1 twice with duets, 1978’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” with Neil Diamond and 1979’s “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” with Donna Summer, and she didn’t want the public to see her as just a duets artist. Columbia released “Woman In Love,” a ballad-heavy solo track as the lead single from Guilty weeks before the album’s release to establish the album in its own right. It turned out to be the right decision as “Woman In Love” hit #1 on the Hot 100 in October 1980 becoming Streisand’s fifth and final #1 hit. The success eventually led Columbia to release “Guilty” and it wound up being a big hit as well.
The Bee Gees influence is heavy on “Guilty.” Like a lot of Bee Gees songs, “Guilty” is a love song with vague lyrics about a couple expressing their devotion to each other. Like many Bee Gees songs, it’s filled with lyrics that don’t make a whole lot of sense using Max Martin’s method of melodic math well before he popularized it, “You battle on with the love you’re livin’ on/We are devotion.” None of the lyrics for the album were re-written which says a lot. And it also has lyrics that are trying way too hard to be poetic, “Make it a crime to be lonely or sad/Our love will climb any mountain near or far.” The influence shows up in more direct ways. The build-up to the chorus sounds a lot to me like the post-chorus of “Night Fever.” And one of the lyrics, “Eyes can see that we got a highway to the sky” is a direct lift of the lyric, “You and me girl got a highway to the sky,” from “Too Much Heaven.”
On Barry Gibb’s demo for “Guilty” released in 2006, you can easily hear what the song could have been with Barry singing in his trademark falsetto throughout. Considering the lyrics don’t exactly require a duet, if the Bee Gees hadn’t fallen so drastically it very well could have been another hit for them. Gibb and Streisand could have easily turned “Guilty” into a show-stopping vocal duet. Instead, their performances are toned down singing in a more restrained manner and not being too showy.
Shadows falling, baby, we stand alone Out on the street anybody you meet got a heartache of their own (It oughta be illegal) Make it a crime to be lonely or sad (It oughta be illegal) You got a reason for livin' You battle on with the love you're livin' on You gotta be mine We take it away It's gotta be night and day Just a matter of time And we got nothing to be guilty of Our love will climb any mountain near or far, we are And we never let it end We are devotion And we got nothing to be sorry for Our love is one in a million Eyes can see that we got a highway to the sky I don't wanna hear your goodbye Pulse's racing, darling How grand we are Little by little we meet in the middle There's danger in the dark (It oughta be illegal) Make it a crime to be out in the cold (It oughta be illegal) You got a reason for livin' You battle on with the love you're buildin' on You gotta be mine We take it away It's gotta be night and day Just a matter of time And we got nothing to be guilty of Our love will climb any mountain near or far, we are And we never let it end We are devotion And we got nothing to be sorry for Our love is one in a million Eyes can see that we got a highway to the sky I don't want to hear your goodbye Don't want to hear your goodbye I don't want to hear your And we got nothing, and we got nothing to be guilty of Our love will climb and mountain near or far, we are And we never let it end We are devotion And we got nothing to be sorry for Our love is one in a million Eyes can see that we got a highway to the sky Don't want to hear your And we got nothing to be guilty of, my love Lyrics submitted by Ice Guilty Lyrics as written by Barry Gibb, Robin Hugh Gibb, Maurice Ernest Gibb Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group Lyrics powered by LyricFind