Bee Gees

Tragedy

Composed by Barry Gibb / Maurice Gibb / Robin Gibb

Song Review by

It may not be as well remembered as "Stayin' Alive" or "Jive Talkin'," but "Tragedy" is one of the best up-tempo items to emerge from the Bee Gees' incredibly successful mid- to late-'70s period because it fuses the dance rhythms they had become known for with aggressive rock & roll elements that give it an extra kick. The lyrics to "Tragedy" seem to fit the Bee Gees ballad prototype as they chronicle the death of a love affair in the most melodramatic terms possible with lines like "In a world of tears I slowly drown" and a chorus that goes "Tragedy/When you lose control and you got no soul." However, the melody behind it takes the material into an up-tempo vein that matches the intensely emotional lyrics by crafting fast-paced verse melodies that build in intensity, only stopping to release tension on its operatic chorus. The Bee Gees' recording of "Tragedy" keeps the energy level high by keeping things cruising forward in a solid up-tempo fashion and piling on all sorts of ear candy like slide guitar solos, burbling synthesizer riffs, an orchestral arrangement, and a punchy horn section. The end result is a song that makes heartbreak seem exhilarating. Pop fans obviously felt this exhilaration because the song gave the Bee Gees another huge international hit, including number one rankings in the U.S. and the U.K.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Spirits Having Flown 1979 Bee Gees / Universal 5:03
Greatest 1979 Bee Gees / Universal 5:04
Bee Gees Story 1989 Polydor 5:01
Tales from the Brothers Gibb 1990 Bee Gees / Universal 5:02
Sounds of the Seventies: 1979 1990
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 5:04
Mega Hits Dance Classics, Vol. 8 1991
Various Artists
Priority
No Image 1997 CIC
One Night Only 1998 Bee Gees / Polydor 4:28
One Night Only [Video] 1998 Eagle Vision
Very Best of the Bee Gees 1998 Polygram 5:03
History 2001 Universal International 5:05
Their Greatest Hits: The Record 2001 Bee Gees 5:01
No Image 2004 Bee Gees / Polydor 5:03
UK Music Hall of Fame 2004
Various Artists
Universal International 5:01
Too Much Heaven: Songs of the Brothers Gibb 2004 Retroactive 4:13
The  Ultimate Bee Gees 2009 Bee Gees / Polydor 5:02
Mythology: The 50th Anniversary Collection 2010 Reprise 5:03
1974-1979 2015 Reprise / Rhino 5:05
blue highlight denotes editor's pick