First of May (Bee Gees song)

"First of May"
Single by Bee Gees
from the album Odessa
B-side "Lamplight"
Released January 1969
March 1969 (United States)[1]
Format 7"
Recorded November 1968
Genre Easy listening, folk
Length 2:49
Label Polydor
Atco (United States/Canada)
Writer(s) Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
Producer(s) Robert Stigwood, Bee Gees
Certification Gold (Japan)
Bee Gees singles chronology
"I Started a Joke"
"First of May"
"Tomorrow Tomorrow"
Music sample
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.[2] 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 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".[3] This song was initially taped in demo form in New York City on 16 August 1968.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6] 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.


Weekly charts

Chart (1969) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[7] 15
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[8] 10
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[9] 7
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[7] 14
France (SNEP)[7] 18
Germany (Media Control Charts)[10] 3
Ireland (IRMA)[7] 4
Italy (FIMI)[7] 22
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[11] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[7] 4
Norway (VG-lista)[12] 9
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[7] 4
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[7] 20
Switzerland (Swiss Hitparade)[13] 4
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[14] 6
US Billboard Hot 100[15] 37
US Cash Box[16] 18
US Record World[7] 16

Year Chart Peak
1996 Japanese Singles Chart (Oricon)[7] 25

Year-end charts

Chart (1969) Position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[8] 17
Belgium (Ultratop)[9] 16
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[11] 16
Norway (VG-lista)[12] 9
Switzerland (Swiss Hitparade)[13] 8
US Cash Box[17] 38

Cover versions


  1. "BEE GEES - Discographie - Singles". 2011-06-27. Retrieved 2014-04-07.
  2. "Bee Gees - Melody Fair / First Of May". Discogs. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  3. 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.
  4. Brennan, Joseph. "Gibb Songs: 1968". Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  5. "Cashbox Top 100 Singles". Cashbox Magazine. March 22, 1969. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  6. "First of May". 2007-06-12. Retrieved 2014-04-07.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "Songs Written by the Gibb Family on the International Charts - Part 1" (PDF). Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  8. 1 2 "Bee Gees - First Of May". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  9. 1 2 "Bee Gees - First Of May". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  10. "Bee Gees - First Of May". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  11. 1 2 "Bee Gees - First Of May". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  12. 1 2 "Bee Gees - First Of May". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  13. 1 2 "Bee Gees - First Of May". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  14. "Bee Gees UK Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  15. "Bee Gees Singles Discography". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  16. "Cashbox Top 100 Singles". Cashbox Archives. April 19, 1969. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  17. "Cashbox Top 100 Singles". Cashbox Archives. May 3, 1969. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  18. "The Mexicano - First Of May / Every Step I Made". Discogs. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  19. "Matt Monro - First of May". You Tube. Retrieved 23 January 2015.

External links

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