The Meaning Behind “Too Much Heaven” by the Bee Gees and How it Prolonged the Band’s Success Post-‘Saturday Night Fever’

Not all the Bee Gees’ success in the late ’70s came courtesy of disco music. They also churned out quite a few fantastic ballads in that era, some of which they recorded themselves and others they farmed out to others. “Too Much Heaven” was one they kept for themselves. Good choice that, as it soared to No. 1 on the charts.

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What is “Too Much Heaven” about? And how did it help keep the band at the top after the phenomenon of Saturday Night Fever? Loosen up that falsetto so we can dive into this Bee Gees classic.

Fever Pitch

Even casual Bee Gees fans likely know a little bit of the group’s career trajectory. After breaking out in the late ’60s and early ’70s with lush pop ballads, the group struggled for a few years before riding the disco wave to superstardom. However, that overview negates to mention the group was still doing just fine with the slow ones, even while they were sending folks hustling out onto mirror ball-lit dance floors everywhere.

The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, which was dominated by compositions and performances by the Brothers Gibb, certainly included its share of pumping, up-tempo tracks and slinky, mid-tempo numbers. But “How Deep Is Your Love,” a romantic ballad, also played a big part in its success. Robin, Maurice, and Barry also were writing slow stuff for other acts around the time, such as “Emotion” by Samantha Sang.

In other words, it wasn’t all that surprising that they chose “Too Much Heaven,” a song that slows things down and turns the lights low, as the lead single off their 1979 album Spirits Having Flown. Surprisingly, for a band whose previous three singles were No. 1s, they really needed a hit.

“Heaven” Sent

Barry Gibb wrote “Too Much Heaven” on a day off from another Bee Gees film project. The band was tabbed to star, along with Peter Frampton, in a musical based on The Beatles’ landmark album Sgt. Pepper’s Hearts Club Band. The makers of the film likely thought that having the Bee Gees so heavily involved in a film right after Saturday Night Fever would be a no-doubt success.

It was anything but. The film went down as one of the biggest flops, both commercially and artistically, of that era. The anti-disco backlash hadn’t quite yet hit the Bee Gees at that time (although it wasn’t that far off). But the Sgt. Pepper’s debacle certainly dampened their momentum a bit.

“Too Much Heaven” restored that momentum in a hurry. Featuring Barry Gibb in full falsetto mode throughout and the brothers’ multitracked harmonies layered liberally over a heartrending melody, it simply couldn’t miss. The Bee Gees had another No. 1 to kick off the new album, which would produce two more chart-toppers (“Tragedy” and “Love You Inside Out”) to make it six straight.

What is “Too Much Heaven” About?

One of Barry Gibb’s gifts as a songwriter is his ability to keep open-hearted love songs like “Too Much Heaven” from getting too sappy. The basic premise of the song is that a loving relationship is hard to come by, which is why the narrator and his significant other should cherish the rare thing they have.

But even within this winning coupling, there are hints that not everything is always 100% rosy. When Barry sings of a highway to the sky in the second verse, he explains how it would be useful for the couple in leaving a troubled past behind: We can turn away / From the night and day / And the tears we had to cry. In addition, he occasionally worries this love is too good to be true: Are you just a dream to fade away?

Even the chorus suggests the ideals espoused by most love songs are an impossibility, as Barry explains that Nobody gets too much heaven no more. By admitting the negatives into the scenario, he makes the positives that much more meaningful. And the Bee Gees certainly knew a thing or two about meaningful ballads.

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Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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