Words (3:14)

Cover of Number Ones

From Number Ones and 63 other releases

“Words” is a song by the Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb. The song reached No. 1 in Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands and China.

Barry said in 1996 on the VH1 Storytellers television show that it was written for their manager, Robert Stigwood. The B-side for “Words” was “Sinking Ships”, one of the very rare songs by the Bee Gees to feature all three brothers with lead vocals: Barry and Robin Gibb in the verses and Maurice Gibb on the song’s chorus. The group performed this song on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1968, with Barry Gibb on vocals, Maurice Gibb on bass, Robin Gibb on piano, Vince on guitar and Colin on drums. On that performance Vince is playing Gibson ES-335, and Maurice is playing Rickenbacker 4001. Some backing vocals near the end are heard only on the mono mix used on the single, some compilations, and the Studio Albums 1967-1968 box set.

Mixes for “Words” suffered many different problems. Since it was originally used only as a single, no stereo mix was made until Atlantic wanted one for the Best of Bee Gees album in 1969, where it made its first appearance on LP. For this someone made an extremely bad stereo mix with the piano, bass and drums mixed way down and the vocals pushed forward. Polydor in the UK passed it up and used the mono mix on their version of the album. Once again Bill Inglot saved the day in 1990 by preparing a good stereo mix for the first time and while doing so, he noticed that two short sections of backing vocal near the end of the song are on the mono mix but not on the four-track master, as if Barry added them while the mono mix was made. The Studio Albums 1967-1968 passed up Bill’s mix and has only the original mono mix with all the backing vocal.

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