Jive Talkin'

Album: Main Course (1975)
Charted: 5 1
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Songfacts®:

  • Barry Gibb sings lead on this track, taking out his frustrations on a jive talkin' woman telling him lies. She treats him cruel, like a dumbstruck fool, and he's sick of it.

    He wrote the song with this brothers (also his band mates) Robin and Maurice. The story is fictional: Barry Gibb had been married since 1970 to his wife Linda, a former Miss Edinburgh.
  • This was called "Drive Talking" in its early stages, but producer Arif Mardin suggested the change to "jive" to play to teenage sensibilities. "Jive talkin'" is a term for slang.
  • The rhythm was inspired by the chunka-chunka-chunka sound of a car rolling over a bridge crossing Biscayne Bay near Miami; the Bee Gees went over it on their way to Criteria Studios, where they were recording the Main Course album. Robin Gibb explained to The Mail On Sunday November 1, 2009: "We'd already thought up the title for this song, but it wasn't until Barry, Maurice and I drove from Biscayne Bay to Miami that we realized what the tune was going to be. We had the idea as we passed over a bridge. Some tar noises made a rhythmic sound on the wheels of our car, which created the feel to the type of song we wanted to write. We finished the song at the Criteria Studios that day."
  • This was the first big disco hit for The Bee Gees. They became icons of the era, singing in falsetto harmonies over dance beats. They had seven more #1 hits in the disco era, but the band went out of style at the same time as white leisure suits. The group, which had considerable success in the late '60s and early '70s, took a lot of heat in the press. This criticism - accusations of selling out and creating popular schlock - stung, and took a toll on the group. They would often point out that disco became homogenized in the years after they got to it, and that their sound was really an extension of R&B.
  • "Jive Talkin'" was a comeback song for the group. They were very successful as contemporary singers in the late '60s and early '70s, but the two albums they released before Main Course flopped, and it looked like their careers were over.

    Knowing that a new Bee Gees single would be met with scepticism by radio programmers, their label sent promotional singles to stations with plain, white labels, giving no indication as to what the name of the song was, or who it was by. The plan worked: the song was added to playlists and revived the fortunes of the group. It hit #1 in America on August 9, 1975, four years and two days after their previous chart topper: "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?"
  • Along with several other Bee Gees hits, this was featured on the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever in 1977. Along with "You Should Be Dancing," it was one of two previously released Bee Gees songs used - they wrote five more specifically for the film. The set became the best-selling soundtrack album of all time, until it was outsold by The Bodyguard soundtrack.
  • Note the keyboard solo near the end of the song. That's the work of Blue Weaver, who joined the group for the Main Course album and was with them until 1979. Weaver, whom they poached away from Mott The Hoople, helped bring the group into the disco era with his keyboard and synthesizer skills.
  • Former Fugees singer Pras sampled this on his 1998 song "Blue Angels."
  • Barry Gibb re-recorded this for Greenfields, a 2020 album that contains various Bee Gees tracks re-imagined as country songs with country music singers. This slowed down version of "Jive Talkin'" features Miranda Lambert and Rival Sons member Jay Buchanan.

    "I knew how I wanted 'Jive Talkin'' to be, which was slower than the one we did - back it down, make it feel more emotional and give it a groove," Gibb told Entertainment Weekly of the country interpretation. "I heard a version by Rufus & Chaka Khan and Rufus doing 'Jive Talkin'' much slower, so when I got to Nashville, that was fixed in my head."

Comments: 24

  • Lz from Burgh"Second Helping" is such a great classic 70s LP. "Fanny" is gorgeous.
  • Diana from GeorgiaI noticed the "stuttering songs" category and have to comment that there is no stammer here. Some hear the lyric as "J-j-j-jive talkin', you're telling me lies" -- but the actual wording is "It's just your jive talking..."
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1975 {August 21st} the Bee Gees were guests on the nationally syndicated weekday-afternoon television program, 'The Mike Douglas Show'...
    At the time their "Jive Talkin'" was at position #4 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, the two previous weeks it had been at #1 and it spent seventeen weeks on the Top 100...
    And it also reached #1 {for 1 week} on the Canadian RPM Singles chart...
    Between 1967 and 1997 the trio had forty three records on the Top 100 chart, fourteen* made the Top 10 with nine reaching #1, their last six #1 records were consecutive #1s {the string was broken by "He's A Liar", it peaked at #30 in October of 1981}...
    R.I.P. Maurice Gibb {1949 - 2003} and Robin Gibb {1949 - 2012}...
    *They just missed having a fifteenth Top 10 record when their "Massachusetts" peaked at #11 {for 2 weeks} on December 3rd, 1967...
  • Melinda from AustraliaThis has got to be one of the best songs ever written about girlfriends who are liars. The line 'there you go, with your fancy lies, Leavin me lookin like a dumbstruck fool'. Interestingly Barry Gibb who wrote the lyrics was happily married most of his life. So who was this lyin GF. Like all Bee Gees song off the Saturday Night Fever, jive Talkin changed our lives in the late 1970's. The Bee Gees, with wizards like Arif Mardin (who usually worked with Motown greats) gave the world future early techno, as disco. There would be no Lady GaGa or Fat Boy Slim if Saturday Night Fever album had never been created. There wasn't a dance floor that wasn't stormed when anything dancey off the Saturday Night Fever album came on.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhLove, love, love the Brothers Gibb, but this may be my least favorite song of theirs.
  • Don from Sevierville, TnThis song did appear on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album, but not in the movie. The original US release used the live version, but the German pressing I used to have used the original studio version.
  • Don from Sevierville, TnActually, the Bee Gees did write and record If I Can't Have You. Their version was the B-side of Stayin' Alive and later on the 1979 release Bee Gees Greatest. But it was Yvonne Elliman who sang the hit version, which appeared on Saturday Night Fever.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScHaving listened to it more, I can understand how this song is a disco pre-cursor of sorts.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaI consider this song to be VERY significant, especially for the Bee Gees, obviously. You may not hear a disco beat when you listen to it now, but at the time it came out in 1975, the beat was new and unheard and GREAT! This was the precursor song to that huge 70s phenomenon of disco. Bee Gees are great. Talk of sell-out is foolish--they are very talented and made lots of money over it. People who talk about some one else "selling out" just don't have the talent to be as popular.
  • Rick from Belfast, MeRemember this song well.....had just graduated from Parris Island,S.C. in June 75 and went to Camp Lejeune,N.C......used to go to the "Bowery" club in Jacksonville,N.C. and listen to this from the radio....ohhhhhhh...to be 18 again!!!!!
  • Drew from B\'ham, Al"If I Can't Have You" is indeed a song I like decently, can't complain. But you do know that it's not by the Bee Gees, right?
  • Jennifer Harris from Grand Blanc, MiI love,Stayin Alive,How Deep Is Your Love,More Than a Woman,Night Fever,You Should Be Dancin,If I Can't have You,Jive Talkin,and Andy's songs.I wish Andy was still alive,but drugs took over his mind.
  • Jim from Brunswick, MeWow! What a comback this was for the Bee Gees. In 1975, they were washed-up has-beens & being referred to in the past tense. Then along comes this awesome song! This was the song that launched their period of greatest success. I get a tingle in my arms whenever I hear this because this great group came roaring back to life. Funky as all get out & there is a great weaving guitar line in there.
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United States"Jive talkin'" and "Stayin' Alive" are the only two disco hits I know of by the Bee Gees. If you know of any other Bee Gees disco hits, please let me know!
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlThis along with "You Should Be Dancing" is probably their best
  • Orion from Charleston, IlThe song is used for the intro and outro for the popular Chicago Radio Show, Boers and Bernstein's "Who You Crappin'" segment on Sports Radio 670 The Score. Where listeners air untrue sayings in the world of sports over the last week.
  • Sarah from Usa, IaIt's sounds more country-ish. Definitley not disco.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScDisco? This sounds more like an R&B song to me. What do you guys think?
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI'm not a fan of disco, but this song is pretty cool. I like the earlier BG's stuff better.
  • Paul from Uk, EnglandThis was the start of the best Bee Gees period by far!!!
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnThis was the hit that cemented The Bee Gees comeback after a four year absence from the charts. It also paved the way for years of greatness prior to Saturday Night Fever.
  • Frank from Westminster, ScI never considered the Bee Gees a deep, meaningful, artsy kind of group, but I thought they made great and memorable music before this era. They jumped on the bandwagon and made tremendous money for as long as disco lasted. Unfortunately for them, they are so tainted from the falsetto/disco crap that nobody takes anything else they try to do seriously. Liberace said, when critics insulted him, "I cry all the way to the bank." Life is choices, and they made theirs.
  • Alan from Singapore, SingaporeA group called Boogie Box High did a cover of this song in the mid to late 80s. It was rumoured that George Micheal sand lead but it was never proven
  • Stephen from Townsville, AustraliaWhen Barry Gibb was originally composing the song, he thought "Jive Talking" referred to the way of speaking. Some of the lyrics needed to be re-written when he discovered that it was a colloqialism for lying.
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