Break out the disco ball, the EHSDA Song of the Week is heading back to the ’70s for what is probably the definitive song of that era. The Bee Gees were already a major act since the late ’60s, but after a lull in the early ’70s, they discovered a second wave with the rising popularity of disco and R&B.
Songs like “Jive Talkin” and “You Should Be Dancing” were big hits, but it was when they recorded some songs for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack that things really took off for them. The second single from that 1977 soundtrack, “Stayin’ Alive,” was a monster hit (as was the movie and soundtrack album in general).
The song hit #1 on the Billboard charts in the U.S. in February 1978 and stayed there for four weeks. It plays during the opening scene of Saturday Night Fever as star John Travolta struts down the streets of New York City. Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees said the song was written about a much more serious subject: surviving on the streets of New York. It also resonates for safety professionals because, after all, the goal of EHS is to ensure that workers do indeed stay alive.
Not long after Saturday Night Fever came and went, disco fell out of favor and music fans eventually looked elsewhere. But for a few years there in the late ’70s, pretty much all you could hear on the radio was that disco beat and the crazily high-pitched falsetto of the Bee Gees.