You Should Be Dancing

Album: Children Of The World (1976)
Charted: 5 1
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  • This song was a #1 US hit in September 1976, becoming one of the biggest disco hits of the era. When the movie Saturday Night Fever hit theaters in December 1977, the song was used in a famous scene from the movie where John Travolta takes over the dance floor - an appropriate choice since the song is specifically about dancing.

    "You Should Be Dancing" was included on the soundtrack along with five other songs performed by the Bee Gees (plus another they wrote: "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman). The album sold over 15 million copies in the US, marking the Bee Gees as a disco act when their earlier output was more charitably classified as blue-eyed soul. Decades later, a new generation discovered the group's earlier work and the disco taint began to fade, but for Barry Gibb, the memories of the backlash didn't. "It still haunts me like hell," he told Mojo in 2001 about this time. "Every time anyone asks me about it my mouth goes dry."
  • Along with "Jive Talkin'," this is one of two Bee Gees songs on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack that had already been released. It first appeared on their 1976 Children Of The World album.
  • John Travolta prepared for the Saturday Night Fever movie by practicing his dance moves to this song. When he was told by the producers that "Night Fever" would be used for the sequence for which he was practicing, Travolta insisted that "You Should Be Dancing" be used instead.

    The dance sequence from the movie was choreographed by Deney Terrio, host of the TV show Dance Fever.
  • Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash played percussion on this track. He recalled to The Independent August 17, 2013: "We were in the studio next door making a CSN album and David (Crosby) was all full of himself and saying this is going to be the album of the year. I went, "No it's not, that's being recorded across the hall," 'cause I'd heard some of that Saturday Night Fever stuff and I knew it was totally unique and going to be a monster. So I played timbales and for a long time that was my only platinum single."
  • This featured at the end of the movie Despicable Me, where the minions replace ballet music with the song so everyone can dance.
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Comments: 24

  • Melinda from AustraliaWe all thought this song was straight up about dancing. Disco dancing. And we loved it. I was one of the luckiest kids ever in 1977. I was 13, my mother had divorced and discovered nightclubs. So the Album Saturday Night Fever hit our turntable at home the minute it was released. I also saw the movie Saturday Night Fever, yes it was Adult rated. But my mum didn't give a rats about movie ratings. People say music doesn't change change the world. They are wrong. Saturday night fever and songs like You Should Be Dancin was a social game changer. They were already havin fun with the Stylistics etc in the U.S. But Saturday Night Fever made disco international. The album whizz kids were Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten. The Bee Gees could not have succeeded with Saturday Night Fever without them
  • Chuck from Charleston, ScIt doesn't take long to solve this. Go to Spotify and listen to them do the song live (there are several versions). They are singing exactly what all the lyric sites say. One sings "Whatcha doin' on your back" and another voice echoes "on your back" right behind it. That's why it sounds like more syllables than you think. In the 1997 live version from Las Vegas, they seem to drop the backup piece of the verse and he clearly sings just "Whatcha doin' on your back?" It's very, very clear on the live versions. Boom. Debate settled. As you were.
  • David from Mtn View, CaListen again chump. "his baby moves at midnight and goes on until the dawn." Heck, I want that girl! Then he says "she gets it to me good." This is sex dude--the good kind that starts at midnight and goes till morning. How do you not see that? The chorus is about doing it not about literal dancing. Do you think Olivia Newton's John's "Physical" song is about physical fitness too? Yes, I thought so.
  • David from Mtn View, CaI always thought it was "What you doing in the back?" Meaning "not doing it." Then "You should be dancing!" "meaning "doing it" If you listen to the rest of the song it's all about sex so why would you possibly think that "dancing" is actual dancing on the floor? The dancing is in the bed!
  • Barb from Dover, NhI always heard it as "Whatcha doin' in the middle o' your bed?" Anyone else hear that?
  • Mysti from Orange, CaOops. I meant "IN your bed on your back", not ON.
  • Mysti from Orange, CaI always thought they said "What are you doing on your bed on your back". Listen to it again and say on your bed on your back. It fits perfect. I highly doubt they are saying "What you doing if you live in Quebec".
  • Luke from Manchester, United KingdomPhil, the Brothers Gibb are not Mancs but Manx.
    They were born on the Isle of Man and raised in Manchester.
  • Jim from Aurora, CoI've never been a big Bee Gee fan, but there's no denying how wonderfully catchy this song is. When they played Saturday Night Live on TV today, I tried to look up the lyrics to Dancin', because I couldn't catch them off the TV. Of course I came to Songfacts first to learn the truth. I was surprised to find this big debate, and nobody seems to have any evidence to back up their interpretation. So I did what any technically-savvy guy would do and went to youtube, where I found a video of the BeeGees playing this song live in '97. Obviously they know how to sing their own song. It's very obvious that they're singing "Whatcha doin' on your back," with enough echo that it seems like they're singing something else, which accounts for the extra syllables you hear on the record. Great song.
  • Phil from East Flat Rock, NcRemember that the Gibbs are all originally from Manchester, England, and raised in Brisbane, Australia, so they clip some words. I just listened to the sound clip, and they're singing, "What you doin' on your butt?"
  • George from Belleville, NjThis song has energy to spare.This is a high powered dance number with a great beat and rhythm plus an excellent melody.The BeeGees were flying high at this time in their career.
  • Leah from Brooklyn, NyOnly in the fantasies of young men in the 70's, Nathan...
  • Karen from Manchester, NhCall me naive, but "what you doin' lyin' on your back" translates to me as being lazy...why are you lying down when you should be up and dancing? It's a lot more polite than saying, "what you doin', sittin' on your fat booty?"
  • Kaz from Chicago Heights, IlI always thought that line/verse was:

    "What ya doin' in your bed at night?" (bass run)
    "What ya doin' in your bed at night?" (bass run)
    "You should be dancing, yeah!"
    "Dancing, yeah!"

    '-)
  • Cindy from Tempe, AzPat in Montreal, you really need to listen to the song more closely. It's total wishful thinking on your part to make the outrageous claim that they're singing "what you doing if you live in Quebec". That should definitely make it on one of those misheard lyrics sites. Listen to the words, over and over and over and over and over again, like I just did. I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt, but it's not possible. Maybe that's what it sounds like to a French Canadian, but not to anyone else.
  • Pat from Montreal, Canada"You Should Be Dancing" (Bee Gees) was recorded at Le Studio in Morin Heights, Quebec, Canada (which is about a 1 hour drive from Montreal. It was included on the "Saturday Night Fever" Soundtrack. Le Studio de Morin Heights was one of the most popular recording studios worldwide during the 1970's-early 1980's with the likes of The Police, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Rush, etc. etc. recording here in the tranquil surroundings of Morin Heights. Now if anyone owns a copy of "You should be dancing" on vinyl then by playing the record at a slower speed, you will realize that the lyrics really say, that, "What you doing if you live in Quebec, You should be dancing ya." Now that's the truth about those lyrics, check it out and you will be amazed. The reason was because they recorded it in Quebec, during the disco era. Why they post these other wrong lyrics I'll never know, so that's it. Pat, Quebec Canada.
  • Joseph Cosimano from Tampa, Flits what ya doing laying on your back
  • Paul from Newark, DeSteven Stills, and members of his band, play percusion on this song.
  • Scotty from Cheyenne, WyAs far as misunderstanding the lyrics goes, is it just me, or does it sound like the Bee Gees are always trying to stuff more syllables in where they don't have enough bars of notes? ;-)
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlActually they wanted Travolta to dance to "Stayin Alive". He insisted on this song. He told the producers that he will instead walk to "Staying Alive". "Night Fever" was not part of the debate..
  • Kaethe from St. Louis, MoI knew this wasn't correct, as my sister and I were just being silly, but we translated the "What you doin' on your back aah" as "What cha doin' in your mama's dress?" It still sounds like that to me. Crazy, huh?
  • Peter from Ottawa, Canada"You Should Be Dancing" (Bee Gees) was recorded at Le Studio in Morin Heights, Quebec, Canada (which is about a 1 hour drive from Montreal or a 2 hour drive from Ottawa). It was included on the "Saturday Night Fever" Soundtrack.
    Le Studio de Morin Heights was one of the most popular recording studios worldwide during the 1970's-early 1980's with the likes of The Police, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Rush, etc. etc. recording here in the tranquil surroundings of Morin Heights. Sadly it closed for business a few years ago (but if the walls could only talk!!...)
  • Leon from Waterbury, CtBefore I read the lyrics, I thought it was "But you do it every night" instead of "What you doin' on your back". Why? I'm a moron.
  • Nathan from Schaumburg, IlThe lyrics (What you doin' on your back aah
    What you doin'on your back aah? You should be dancing, yeah) is in reference to women getting l--d when they should be dancing.
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