No. 12 in Top 50 Bee Gees’ Songs 1966-72
By Robin & Barry Gibb
Lead Vocals: Robin & Barry
Album: Bee Gees’ 1st 1967
Single A-side (US) 1967
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“Millions of eyes can see yet why am I so blind?”
Why should something fascinate when I don’t know what on earth it’s about? Yet this song fascinates me.
Andrew Sandoval brilliantly describes Holiday as ‘shimmering’*. From those ringing organ chords – fourth, major third, minor third – I’ve always found the song utterly spellbinding. I admire its subtlety and restraint, qualities which get sidelined with the Bee Gees becoming more and more the accomplished orchestral balladeers as the early 70s approach. ‘Holiday’ is the absolute opposite of melodramatic or overwrought.
It’s been said that, rather than self-consciously spin a web of intrigue or fantasy, all lyrics need do is simply describe what is there. In a sense, ‘Holiday’ does this, stating the obvious with lines like ‘…the puppet makes you smile, if not then you’re throwing stones’ – yet remains inscrutable nonetheless.
Somewhere in those enigmatic words I can find buried the idea that the singer (probably Robin) finds respite from the world ‘throwing stones’ in the comfort of another. Is he the performing ‘puppet’ pleading for tenderness? Perhaps we are not meant to know.
There is a breakthrough of emotional expressiveness in the ‘milions of eyes can see …’ section before we return to the more enclosed ‘You’re a holiday..’
An eeriness is enhanced by a subtle deployment of Bill Shepherd’s slightly creepy strings during the march like ‘dee, dee, dee, dee , dee, dee’ sequence.
Then with a foreshortened closing phrase and a twinkle, ‘Holiday’ is gone.
* Bee Gees’ 1st: Rhino CD re-issue, (2006), Andrew Sandoval’s booklet notes, page 13.