Massachusetts

Album: Horizontal (1967)
Charted: 1 11

Songfacts®:

  • In this poignant song, the singer feels himself drawn back to Massachusetts, a state in the northeastern US. It seems there is a girl at the heart of hit, one he "left her standing on her own."
  • The Bee Gees had never actually been to Massachusetts when they recorded this; they just liked the sound of the name. Robin Gibb explained in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: "We have never been there but we loved the word and there is always something magic about American place names. It only works with British names if you do it as a folk song. Roger Whittaker did that with 'Durham Town.'"
  • This was the first Bee Gee single on which the quavery Robin Gibb sang lead.
  • Sometimes appearing with the title "(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts," The Bee Gees wrote and had their first UK #1 with this song in 1967, but it wasn't until some years later, during a chance meeting in London between the Seekers lead singer Judith Durham and Maurice Gibb, that Judith learned the amazing truth that "Massachusetts" was originally intended to fulfill the Bee Gees' dream of writing a hit for The Seekers.

    Upon arriving in London from Australia (following in the path of the Seekers, who had arrived several years earlier) the Bee Gees had been unsuccessful in getting the song to the group, so they recorded it themselves. After reuniting and touring Australia again perhaps for the last time in 2003, the Seekers were moved to perform the song as a tribute to Maurice after his untimely death. So popular was the song there that the group decided to finally record it and it was included on their Ultimate Collection CD released that same year. It fits perfectly with what the Seekers themselves selected as their best classic songs of the mid '60s, having been recorded almost 40 years later. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Stu - Suffern, NY
  • For the Bee Gees, music always came before lyrics - except for the title. "We always believed there's no such thing as a title you can't write a song to, like 'Massachusetts,'" Robin Gibb explained to Daniel Rachel, author of The Art of Noise: Conversations with Great Songwriters. "We wrote that in a boat in New York harbor as a challenge. When you look back, it's quite a good exercise if you are songwriters to challenge yourselves to do something; we'd never been to Massachusetts. It's an unusual title with all the S's. [Assumes pompous voice] 'How could anybody possibly write a song called...,' so we did."
  • "Massachusetts" went to #1 in the UK on October 11, 1967 and stayed on top for four weeks. For Robin Gibb, memories of this time were bittersweet; on November 5, with the song still at #1, he was riding a train when it crashed in Lewisham near Hither Green Depot, killing 49 people in one of Britain's worst rail disasters. "Luckily I didn't get injured," he told The Mail On Sunday November 1, 2009. "I remember sitting at the side of the carriage, watching the rain pour down, fireworks go off and blue lights of the ambulances whirring. It was like something out of a Spielberg film. I thought, at least there is one consolation, we have our first UK #1."
  • This wasn't the first time the Bee Gees had a hit with an American place name in the title. Earlier in 1967, they scored with "New York Mining Disaster 1941 (Have You Seen My Wife, Mr. Jones)." In 1975 they went back to the Big Apple for "Nights On Broadway."

Comments: 5

  • Jennifur Suncynthia walker i have heard that it was written by Berry about their manager I believe it was
  • Cynthia Walker from Port Charlotte, Flto Kawa. To Love Somebody was written specifically for Otis Redding. Unfortunately he and his band were killed before they could record it.
  • Kawa from Tokyo, JapanI think that the first idea of the lyrics of the song came from the one from' Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair' sung by Scott McKenzie in 1967. I think because Mckenzie's song became a big hit and everyone in the world knew about that. As I told you about the comment on their hit, To Love Somebody, that's the way they had been trying to do for making a big hit. I mean they came from Australia, not UK, so I think that they think it was very disadvantage for them so they tried to write songs about the theme which people living in the US knew. Because I think that they thought it was not hard than not use it. The rest is history.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn November 5th 1967, "Massachusetts" by the Bee Gees entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #74; and 4 weeks later it almost made the Top 10 when on December 3rd, 1967 it peaked at #11* {for 2 weeks} and spent 8 weeks on the Top 100...
    As stated above it reached #1 in the United Kingdom, it also made it to the top spot in Germany, Canada, New Zealand, and the Netherlands...
    R.I.P. Maurice Gibb {1949 - 2003} and Robin Gibb {1949 - 2012}...
    * It was the trio's only record to peak at #11; they did have fifteen records make the Top 10 with eight of them reaching #1.
  • Adam from West Palm Beach, FlThis was supposedly conceived as an anecdote to going to San Francisco and wearing flowers in one's hair - the idea that there was more to the day and age than simply flower power, free love, etc, etc, etc...
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