New York Mining Disaster 1941 (Have You Seen My Wife, Mr. Jones)

Album: Bee Gees' 1st (1967)
Charted: 12 14
  • This Beatles-inspired song was the first single The Bee Gees recorded in England. It became their first international success.
  • This song is about a miner trapped beneath the surface who wants to contact his wife. There was no such event, and the lyrics are totally fictional. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 2
  • The Gibb brothers wrote the song when they were sitting in the dark on some studio stairs at Polydor Records imagining they were stuck in a mine accident. They placed it in New York; far from Wales where a recent accident had taken place so as not to offend those who were hurt by it.
  • The second verse has one line less than the first verse, which is an example of The Bee Gees intricate songcraft in their early years. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ben Dirks - Nijmegen, Netherlands, for above 2
  • There was no mining disaster in New York in 1941, although there was one in McIntire, Pennsylvania which killed 6 people. The song though appears to have been vaguely inspired by the Aberfan tragedy in South Wales. On October 21, 1966, 144 people were killed, 116 of them children, when a waste tip slid down a mountainside; unsurprisingly the story generated massive media coverage, and even 40 years on the name Aberfan is synonymous with the tragedy.
  • In the biography The Bee Gees: Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, Maurice Gibb is quoted as saying the song is "A total rip-off of the Beatles" although later he is said to have retracted this.
  • The Barclay James Harvest song The Great 1974 Mining Disaster is based on this Bee Gees song. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3
  • This song was covered by Chumbawamba on their 2000 album WYSIWYG.
  • Gibb recalled to The Mail On Sunday November 1, 2009: "We recorded this at London's IBC studio because it was dark and emulated a mining shaft. The result was a very lonely sound."
  • Maurice Gibb recalled in a June 2001 interview with Mojo magazine: "The opening chord doesn't sound like a conventional A minor. Barry was using the open D tuning he'd been taught when he was nine, and I was playing it in conventional tuning. It gives an unusual blend. People went crazy trying to figure out why they couldn't copy it."
  • This was also the first Bee Gees single to include Australian drummer Colin Petersen as an official member of the band. Peteresen would leave the group two years later.
  • Robin and Barry sing in unison on this, a trick they also used on "How Deep Is Your Love."

Comments: 11

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 11th 1967, the Bee Gees performed "New York Mining Disaster 1941 (Have You Seen My Wife, Mr. Jones)" on the BBC-TV program 'Top of the Pops', it also marked their debut on national British television…
    At the time the song was at #17 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart; two weeks later it would peak at #12 for one week...
    And in the U.S.A. ten days later on May 21st, 1967 it would enter Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #79...
    {See second post below}.
  • Susan from Atlanta, GeorgiaTo Mb - Newburgh, Ny: This song got me into the BeeGees, too.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 22nd 1967, a video of the Bee Gees performing "New York Mining Disaster" was aired on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Two months earlier on May 21st, 1967 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #79; and on June 25th, 1967 it peaked at #14 (for 1 week) and spent 7 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #3 in both New Zealand and the Netherlands...
    At the time the video was aired on 'Bandstand', the trio's next charted record, "To Love Somebody", was in its 2nd week on the Top 100 at position #42, and five weeks later on August 20th, 1967 it peaked at #17 (for 1 week)...
    R.I.P. Maurice (1949 - 2003), Robin (1949 - 2012), and Barry will celebrate his 68th birthday in two months on September 1st, 2014.
  • Andrew from Surrey, United KingdomRobert Stigwood — later of RSO (Robert Stigwood Organization) Records — released the song anonymously in the U.S., partially to incite the public's curiosity, and partially to get it more airplay on the basis that people might mistake it for the Beatles, (whom he also represented).
  • Dana from Woodbury, MnThey lived in Australia from 1958 to 1967, but are actually from Manchester, England. They moved their with their family as kids because a) their dad couldn't find work as a musician in Manchester and b) Robin and Barry would've been sent to reform school for always getting into trouble with local authorities for rowdy behavior.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyIt's too bad that when most people think of the Bee Gees, they think of all those disco hits they had. On NY Mining Disaster, you can hear what good musicians and performers they actually are.

    This song came out at roughly the same time as the songs on Jefferson Airplane's "Surrealistic Pillow," the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper," "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" and other seminal rock 'n' roll recordings. This song holds its own with the others and has its own distinctive sound. I don't think anyone could've asked for much more than that.
  • Fred from Laurel, MdWhen this hit the airwaves, it was widely believed to be part of the "British invasion"; many of us were surprised to learn that they were actually from Australia.
  • Fred from Laurel, MdBen Dirks - Nijmegen, Netherlands:
    Actually, it's the other way around; the second verse has one more line than the first. ***
    All: This was their breakout hit in the U.S., as well. I think it was their first single released in the states; if not, it was in any case their first national hit here.
  • Robert from Los Angeles, CaOne of the most ominous songs I know
  • Marty from San Francisco, CaThere were three different versions recorded of this song.
  • Mb from Newburgh, Nysong got me into the bee gees
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