"Jive Talkin'"
Bee Gees|1975|Criteria Records
Period: 3:17 p.m. to present
Frequency: 1:1
Accuracy: Perfect
Volume: Dinner chatter
Who is responsible: The 70s
Could be Worse, Could Be: Stayin' Alive.

Of all the stupid, insipid, feckless and vapid iterations of unnecessarily apostrophized song titles, “Jive Talkin'” is my favorite. I don’t even mind this record being stuck on repeat in my dome. Goddam thing is catchy.

But frustrating, because unless you’re old, or you’re a music nerd, or you’re an old music nerd, you forget it’s by the fucking Bee Gees and send yourself on an endless quest through Leo Sayer’sWikipediaa pages or the black hole of conspiracy theories behind the Average White Band subreddit because “Jive Talkin'” may be a classic, definitive disco tune, but it sounds like it was written by Boz Scaggs.

I mean, it was written by three nerdy white boys from Manchester so the pigmentation part of it scales, but it’s just too funky for England and should have come from somewhere in the United States where they can grow peaches and make shine.

Don’t get me wrong, I know some serious funk came out of the G.B. but I’m not sure the Bee Gees are part of it. It’s cultural appropriation and I’m pissed.

If anyone’s going to appropriate a cultural downbeat from America, it’s other Americans. We pretty much wait for our African American cousins to dial up something that makes us twitch then we appropriate it. We did it with jazz, we did it with hip-hop, that’s how we got banjos and jambalaya, and you can bet that whatever it is Billy Ocean does, we’re gonna steal it any day now. And we sure as shit did it with funk.

I grew up in the middle of that appropriation when white funk dominated FM radio. I roller discoed my ass off to Average White Band’s “Pick up the Pieces,” and whatever that one was that talked about pie. This band pissed off James Brown so much he temporarily renamed his group Above Average Black Band (A.A.B.B.) and wrote a song called “Picking up the Pieces One by One” that did PUTP one better cause fuck those guys, he’s James Brown, and they stole their bass line from one of his songs.

 

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