|"First of May"|
|Single by The Bee Gees|
|from the album Odessa|
|Released||January 1969 |
March 1969 (United States)
|Genre||Easy listening, folk|
Atco (United States/Canada)
|Songwriter(s)||Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb|
|Producer(s)||Robert Stigwood, Bee Gees|
|The Bee Gees singles chronology|
First Of May
"First of May" is a song by the Bee Gees with lead vocals by Barry Gibb, released as a single from their 1969 double album Odessa. Its B-side was "Lamplight". It also featured as the B-side of "Melody Fair" when that song was released as a single in the Far East in 1971 as well as in 1976 and 1980 on RSO Records. It was the first Bee Gees single to be released after lead guitarist Vince Melouney had left the group.
Origin and recording
The song was first recorded in Atlantic Studios in New York and was continued in IBC Studios, London. Barry said in the booklet with Tales from the Brothers Gibb that the title of the song came from the birthday of his dog, Barnaby. Maurice recalled the session in which that song came about. "Barry and I were sitting at the piano", he said, "And I started playing the chords, and Barry started singing, 'When I was small and Christmas trees were tall' and I started singing along with it. We put a demo down with a vocal and we kept the piano track. Went back to England, and went into IBC Studios in London, added onto that piano track and Barry's vocal stayed on as well. We had a choir and an orchestra all on this one piano". This song was initially taped in demo form in New York City on 16 August 1968.
The orchestral arrangement from maestro Bill Shepherd was featured on the second chorus. The song starts with a piano on the first verse and chorus. Shepherd's orchestra was featured in second verse and second chorus. After singing the second chorus, the singer repeated the first verse. The music was stopped when he sings don't ask me why, but time has passed us by, Someone else moved in from far away.
The flip side of the single was "Lamplight" on which Robin Gibb sang the lead. Robert Stigwood, the Bee Gees manager chose "First of May" for the A-side. No other singles were released from the Odessa album, as Robin Gibb already had left the group. The song was partially responsible for Robin's brief departure from the Bee Gees, because he had wanted his song, "Lamplight," to be the album's first single, while Barry preferred "First of May." In the end, Barry's judgment won, relegating "Lamplight" to the B-side and as a result Robin quit the band, but he returned a year later. "First of May" debuted at #55 in Cash Box magazine charts the week of March 22nd 1969.
After its release, "First of May" enjoyed a resurgence several times. In 1971, the song was featured in the soundtrack to Melody, a British motion picture about two children in love. In 1996, the song was used as a theme of the Japanese drama Wakaba no Koro. The song was consequently reissued as a CD single in Japan, also featuring How Deep Is Your Love and peaked at No 25, selling more than 100,000 copies.
Later renditions by group members
Although the originally released version was basically just Barry Gibb's vocal backed with Bill Shepherd's orchestral arrangement, the other two credited writers would later appear performing the song. Maurice Gibb sang the song in duet with his former wife Lulu on her 2002 TV special An Audience with Lulu, while Robin Gibb guested on G4's cover of the song, released on G4 & Friends in 2005. This version was also released as a single.
- Cilla Black recorded “First of May” for her 1971 album "Images"
- Rudy Grant as The Mexicano, recorded a reggae version and released "First of May" as a single in 1977 on Ice Records. The B-side, "Every Step I Made" was written by his brother Eddy Grant.
- Matt Monro
- Sarah Brightman has covered "First of May" in concert and as a track on the European release of La Luna.
- Patty Pravo covered "First of May" in Italian as "Un Giorno Come Un Altro" on her "Concerto Per Patty" album (1969).
- The Wolfe Tones, Irish folk band covered "First of May" on their 1972 album Let the People sing.
- Weeping Willows and Helen Sjöholm cover the song on Weeping Willows album "Christmas Time Has Come" from 2014.
- Jose Feliciano recorded "First Of May" on his 1969 album "10 to 23".
- Chris Carney of Erin Go Bragh covered the song on his first album "The Rare Old Times", in 2019. This great rendition lends another Irish style to the song.
- Operatic pop group G4 released a cover version in 2005, on their second studio album G4 & Friends. Their version featured Robin Gibb as guest vocalist.
- "BEE GEES - Discographie - Singles". Mcdustsucker.de. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
- "Bee Gees - Melody Fair / First Of May". Discogs. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- p. 212: Bee Gees: Tales of the Brothers Gibb by Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, Andrew Môn Hughes, with Joseph Brennan and Mark Crohan. Omnibus Press, London, New York, New Revised Version, 2000.
- Brennan, Joseph. "Gibb Songs: 1968". Retrieved 16 March 2013.
- "Cashbox Top 100 Singles". Cashbox Magazine. 22 March 1969. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "First of May". Popularsong.org. 12 June 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
- Sweeting, Adam (14 January 2003). "Obituary: Maurice Gibb". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
- "Songs Written by the Gibb Family on the International Charts - Part 1" (PDF). brothersgibb.org. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Bee Gees - First Of May". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Bee Gees - First Of May". ultratop.be. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Bee Gees - First Of May". officialcharts.de. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Bee Gees - First Of May". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Bee Gees - First Of May". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Bee Gees - First Of May". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Bee Gees UK Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Bee Gees Singles Discography". musicvf.com. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Cashbox Top 100 Singles". Cashbox Archives. 19 April 1969. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "The Mexicano - First Of May / Every Step I Made". Discogs. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- "Matt Monro - First of May". You Tube. Retrieved 23 January 2015.