Words

By Barry, Maurice & Robin Gibb
Lead Vocal: Barry
Album Best of Bee Gees 1969 [stereo]
Single A-side 1968 


Embed from Getty Images

 

“Words are all I have”

I can appreciate what a good melody Words has but, never one of my Bee Gees’ favourites, it’s just been irrevocably ruined for me by Boyzone’s gloopy 1996 cover which of course went to #1.  Worse still were the TV talent imitations of Boyzone’s imitation which followed in its wake.

A strong song isn’t ruined by a pale or third-rate cover, so it’s not that.  It’s that Boyzone bring out all the elements of the song I like least – a kind of cloyingness and too blatant tug at the heartstrings through an assumed humility.

Gloopy

Nevertheless, by singing with an overall sameness they do Barry – and us – the favour of highlighting the dynamic variance of his vocal, the dropaway as he sings the end-of-the-line ‘story’/‘glory’ rhymes, crucial to the song but cleverly underplayed by its structure.

I’m probably ill-disposed to Words because its commercial success in 1968 seems to exemplify the gradual phasing out of the brothers’ quirkier, pop-psych ingredients and a move towards a near-future dominated by ‘romantic’ ballads.  Words, intended as a single for Cliff Richard, is a major step forward on this journey.

FIrst of May

Massachusetts, Words, First of May: the ones that got away
Bee Gees Top 50 1966-72

Bee Gees’ Home Page

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