Live to see another day. #PlagueSongs, no. 16

This week’s #PlagueSong is more uptempo than last week’s, and not written for the acoustic guitar. Yes, it’s… the Bee Gees’ disco classic, “Stayin’ Alive.”

This is one of the earlier songs I remember. As a child, I checked the Saturday Night Fever record album out of the library, and then made a cassette of the songs I liked, which included most of them. As I recall, I omitted the Trammps’ “Disco Inferno” because it was so long. Possibly also because it wouldn’t fit on the cassette. (I like the song now — though, yeah, it is nearly 11 minutes long.)

Listening to the song now, the sexist lines (“music loud and women warm”) land flat. They feel just tossed off, and needless. But I really like the danger and darkness of “Feel the city breaking, and everybody shaking,” and “Life going nowhere — somebody help me.” And the line “We can try to understand the New York Times‘ effect on man” takes on new resonance, given the New York Times‘ decidedly mixed record — extraordinary journalism like Nikole Hannah-Jones’s 1619 Project, and fascist crap like the work of White supremacist Tom Cotton, and prize-winning bully Bret “Bedbug” Stephens, etc.

So, the song may not have been intended for guitar, but Bruce Springsteen did a great version on his Australian tour back in 2014.

I assume you know the Bee Gees’ 1977 original. But do you also know the video? It features all three Bee Gees lip-synching as they stroll through an imagined evocation of New York City — though you see “New York Central” near the video’s conclusion, it’s actually a set at MGM Studios in Culver City, California. That said, the crumbling façades do nicely evoke the sense of a “city breaking” and the song’s pleas for help.

Of the three Brothers Gibb, only lead singer Barry Gibb is still alive today.


Keep social distancing, wearing masks in public, and washing those hands. Contrary to the behavior of some, we are still in a pandemic. If you won’t take your own health seriously, then please think of others: wearing a mask prevents COVID-19’s spread.

In other words, keep stayin’ alive and helping others stay alive. I’ll be back again next week.


Seeking a #PlagueSong to perform? I continue to compile this ever-expanding playlist. Of course, you may have a song in mind that I don’t know — and that would be welcome!


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