“How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” by The Bee Gees (1971)/Al Green (1972)

The Gibb Brothers were many things over the course of their forty years as a musical unit-Beatle clones, disco savants, disco pariahs, resurgent veterans. One thing that remained consistent, regardless of their public perception, was their ability to write a hell of a song. Proof of that talent lies in the mile-long list of Gibb songs that have been recorded by other artists over the years. From gospel/soul divas like Candi Staton and Melba Moore to pop heartthrobs Olivia Newton-John and Take That to crooners Michael Bolton and Luther Vandross, Bee Gees songs have found homes in the catalogs of hundreds of artists over the years.

One of the best Bee Gees covers is Al Green’s 1972 version of “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”, a song that hadn’t even been off the charts for a year in its original version. As one might expect from a man who later became a reverend, Al takes the Brothers Gibb to CHUUUCH. He and his Hi Records crew extend the song’s length by two, slowing the song down into a heartbroken dirge, with Teenie Hodges’ country-fried guitar high in the mix. Al cajoles, moans, cries and testifies. You can picture him getting so into his performance that he kicks off his shoes and lays on the ground Patti LaBelle-style.

The original is no slouch either. You can’t mess with that brotherly harmony, and “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” marks the official debut of the oft-lauded Barry Gibb falsetto. When you consider the fact that “Broken Heart” became the first of the brothers’ many chart topping singles, it’s no surprise that Barry leaned hard on that falsetto for the rest of the decade.

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