No. 7 in Top 50 Bee Gees’ Songs 1966-72
By Barry, Maurice & Robin Gibb
Lead Vocal: Robin
Album Horizontal 1968
Embed from Getty Images
“Love is so easy to lose”
By fateful coinicidence, on this Good Friday I land upon a song which resonates with themes of Easter – the redeeming power of abiding love in the face of death and near death.
Robin Gibb and his future wife Molly were involved in the Hither Green train disaster of 1967 which killed over forty people and left many others injured. The south London crash, especially the carnage which followed in its wake, left a lasting impression on Robin and Really and Sincerely came out of his brush with death.
When I first heard this song it did not greatly appeal to me. It seemed to interrupt the flow of Horizontal and such pained intensity made for slightly uncomfortable listening. Perhaps it was reading about the circumstances which inspired Really and Sincerely or living not far from Hither Green myself which prompted me to listen again.
Now I could feel the song’s vulnerability, its passion. What had seemed at first like overexposed rawness was now humble gratitude in the face of deliverance and a plea for life’s embrace.
Robin’s voice, so utterly unlike any other in or outside of popular music has a passionate directness which combines pain and joy. He can sound both fragile and intense at the same time.
Really and Sincerely uses a chanson sensibility to convey a lonely existential meditation. In its wintry verses accompanied by plaintive piano accordion and ‘cello, Robin strains for something seemingly unobtainable. The lyrics speak of an unbearable but unnamed separation: ‘I’m on the other side, though you remember my name’. This, I would imagine, is his survivor’s guilt or, more specifically, a speculation that he might so easily have lost Molly that day.
Then the suspended tension of the verse gives way to a more easeful chorus – ‘Turn me down’ – with its warm horns and the relief of strings. Chastened, at last Robin achieves the longed for sense of connection and gratitude. The chorus culminates with the simple, humble ‘really and sincerely I’ve tried’ but the song’s essence is to be found in the line: ‘Love is so easy to lose’.
I love Really and Sincerely and wonder how I could not have done so from the start. Far from interrupting the album, it seems to flow from And the Sun Will Shine, taking that song’s intensity to another level. Really and Sincerely adds depth and vulnerability to Horizontal and I can’t imagine the album without it (interesting that it was the last song to be recorded).
The title is taking a risk in itself, giving the song something to live up to. This passionately prayerful piece does not fall short.