Bee Gee’s Barry Gibb released GREENFIELDS: The Gibb Brothers Songbook Vol. 1 last month, coordinating the talents of some of his most famous friends for a new album full of reimagined versions of the Gibb family’s catalogue. With collabs from Olivia Newton-John, Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert and more, it's clearly the work of a legend. It's no wonder fellow legend Dolly Parton was keen to get involved.
Part of the new collection is a version of 1968’s "Words" featuring the one and only Dolly. Barry and Dolly spoke to etalk’s Traci Melchor about the collab and even teased a future dinner date between themselves and their partners and bonded over each other's talent.
Despite their amazing working relationship, when it comes to the personal, Gibb says that've never really gotten the chance to get to know each other. “But music has always been that single thing that we have in common. Dolly is a real songwriter, and I feel that immediately. It really is always my dream to know other songwriters. We connected in that way when we were doing that record at Lionshare [Recording Studios]. It was in L.A., and Dolly came in and did her vocals. The record just exploded from that moment on,” Gibb explained.
Gibb said he has the same relationship with Dolly as he does with Olivia Newton-John. “You’d think we would hang out every day, but that’s just not the case. And I’ve known her since I was 16 and she was 16. We used to do a television show called The Go!! Show — sorry, Doll,” Gibb said to Dolly as she interjected.
"People do think that once you have records together — and I know Kenny Rogers and I were friends for long years, and Barry and Kenny knew each other a lot. So people do think that if you’ve worked together that you do know each other, but it’s not always true. I was very close to Kenny. Kenny and I did a lot of great things together, but I haven’t had as much time with Barry as I’d love to," Dolly explained. "When we did 'Islands in the Stream' in ’82, we spent a couple of days there getting that all together. We did 'Words' recently, before the first of the year and before COVID hit, we were lucky to get that done."
Dolly said that she’s getting to know Gibb a lot more through the interviews they’re doing together, and she’s hopeful that they will get the chance to continue working together. “Maybe have dinner with husbands and wives? That would be cool,” Gibb asked.
“That would be great. You and I have both been married longer than most people have been alive,” Dolly joked. “I’ve been married for 54 years, 56 with my husband. We dated two years.” Gibb said he’s been married for 50 years in September, and they lived together three years before they tied the knot.
“Maybe that’s how we’ll get together,” Dolly told Gibb. “I’m sick of him. Are you sick of her? Maybe we could hook up.” Gibb joked that he gets the “same vibe,” adding, “it’s not that I’m sick of her. It’s that I detect she rather me be somewhere else.” Dolly said that, in all seriousness, she would love to spend more time with Gibb, who agreed that he would love that too.
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Gibb said recording his new version of the Bee Gee’s 1968 song, "Words," with Dolly, meant “everything” to him. “To me, working with Dolly is something like working with Barbra Streisand. It’s like you’re dealing with the best of the best, the most vital performers of our entire era,” Gibb said before Dolly chimed in and said, “wow, thank you!” Gibb added, “It’s the truth, Dolly.” OH EM GEE, these two are adorable.
Dolly said she really loved how their voices went together on "Words." “I was really proud because you never know when you go in to sing with somebody how it is going to turn out. I wanted it to be good. I was trying really hard. I was a little bit intimidated,” Dolly admitted. Gibb said that he was intimidated as well.
“As soon as we started rehearsing and we heard our voices together, it was like a bird in flight somehow. It was like, oh yeah, this is going to work,” she added.
Dolly recorded "Words" in the historic RCA Studio B, and she said returning there to create this song felt “wonderful.” She continued, “I had recorded so many of my records there — 'I Will Always Love You,' 'Jolene,' duets with Porter Wagner — so we worked there for a long time. I hadn’t been there for a longtime to record and so when they said they were doing it there, when I walked in there and Barry had the band all there and David Cobb the producer and all these wonderful musicians… it was just like a magic moment and Barry just fit so well like he was supposed to be there. I really think this is a blessed project.” She said working together with Gibb and the band in the historic studio turned into some type of “static electricity of magic" and said there was "a spiritual energy that was in the room.”
It's got the Dolly seal of approval, that's for sure: "It's one of the greatest things that Barry’s ever done.”
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