Bee Gees single by single thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by cut to the chase, Jul 15, 2018.

  1. cut to the chase

    cut to the chase Forum Resident Thread Starter

    How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (1971)

    Released: 28 May 1971
    B-side: Country Woman
    Charts: #1 (USA, Canada), #3 (Australia), #6 (New Zealand), #7 (South Africa), #16 (Netherlands)
  2. cut to the chase

    cut to the chase Forum Resident Thread Starter

    "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" is a song released by the Bee Gees in 1971. It was written mainly by Barry and Robin Gibb and was the lead and first single on the group's 1971 album Trafalgar. It was their first US No. 1 single and also reached No. 1 in Cashbox magazine for two weeks.

    In the US Atco Records issued both mono and stereo versions of the song on each side as a promo single. The B-side was a Maurice Gibb composition "Country Woman".

    The song appears in the 2013 film American Hustle and on its soundtrack.


    Writing and recording
    Barry and Robin Gibb wrote the song in August 1970 with "Lonely Days" when the Gibb brothers had reconvened following a period of break-up and alienation. "Robin came to my place," says Barry, "and that afternoon we wrote 'How Can You Mend a Broken Heart' and that obviously was a link to us coming back together. We called Maurice, finished the song, went to the studio and once again, with only 'Broken Heart' as a basic structure, we went in to the studio with that and an idea for 'Lonely Days', and those two songs were recorded that night". They originally offered the song to Andy Williams, but ended up recording it themselves, although Williams himself covered the song on his album You've Got a Friend. Barry also explains, "We might imitate a certain group, later on, the group will pick up on the song and say that suits us." Maurice Gibb possibly had a hand in the writing of "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" although the song is officially credited to Barry and Robin Gibb. The 2009 release Ultimate Bee Gees officially credited Maurice for the first time as co-writer of the song, for both the "Ultimate" CD and DVD, and it was credited to the moniker Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb.

    The song was recorded on 28 January 1971 in London same day as "We Lost the Road", "When Do I", "If I Were the Sky", "Bring Out the Thoughts in Me" and "Ellan Vannin". The group's later song "My World" followed along the same musical ideas on this song. Robin Gibb's remarked on the song, "The whole thing took about an hour to complete. The song reached the number one spot, to our great satisfaction."

    The song was sung live for the first time in 1971, in a performance that was notable as drummer Geoff Bridgford's first appearance with the band. Although failing to chart on the UK Singles Chart, the song became the Bee Gees' first US number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and also reached number four on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 5 song for 1971. In Spain, it was released under the title "Cómo Puedes Arreglar Un Corazón Destrozada".

    Following the release of "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart", the song had a Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus among George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" and others. It was performed as part of a medley on The Midnight Special on October 10, 1975, in Japan on the Japanese TV special Love Sounds, and on the Mr. Natural tour in 1974. A live version recorded on 17–18 Nov 1989 at the National Tennis Centre, Melbourne, Australia was used for the benefit album Nobody's Child: Romanian Angel Appeal. In 1997-1999, the song was performed on the One Night Only tour as part of a medley. It was last performed by the Bee Gees in 2001.

    Cover versions
    • 1971: Johnny Mathis recorded a version of this song on his LP You've Got a Friend.
    • 1972: Al Green covered the track on his album Let's Stay Together, which also made the soundtrack to 1997's Good Will Hunting, 1999's The Virgin Suicides, 1999's Notting Hill and 2010's The Book of Eli. Green's version was released as a single in France on Cream Records. In 2008, Green's version was remade into a duet with Joss Stone for the soundtrack to the film adaptation of Sex and the City, with her vocals overdubbed onto the track.
    • 1973: Singer-actress Cher covered the song in her 1973 album Half-Breed.
    • 1977: Florence Henderson performed the song during a medley on an episode of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.
    • 1991: Teddy Pendergrass recorded a version of this song on his LP Truly Blessed.
    • 2003: Michael Bublé recorded this song, with Barry Gibb performing backup vocals, on his self-titled album. Bublé's version reached number twenty-two on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It was Buble's first single.
    • 2003: American Idol's second winner Ruben Studdard covered the song on his debut album Soulful.
    • 2005: Steve Brookstein recorded it on his number-one album Heart and Soul.
    • 2007: Barry Manilow's version appears on his album The Greatest Songs of the Seventies.
    • 2009: Jazz singer-pianist Diana Krall covered this song on her album Quiet Nights.
    • 2009: Rod Stewart recorded a version for his album Soulbook, though it was left off the final track listing.
    • 2014: Eef Barzelay recorded a version for a fundraising CD titled More Super Hits Of The Seventies for freeform radio station WFMU.
    How Can You Mend a Broken Heart - Wikipedia
    sunspot42 and Hadean75 like this.
  3. cut to the chase

    cut to the chase Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Funny how this song flopped in the UK and the rest of Europe but was huge in North America and Australia.

    I'm not a big fan of it, it's not a bad song but too slow and a bit boring IMO.
    Hadean75 likes this.
  4. Manapua

    Manapua Forum Resident

    Yeah, I think I liked this more in '71. It's still a good number but there are other Bee Gees recordings I'd rather listen to. But props to their first US #1!
    cut to the chase likes this.
  5. Castle in the air

    Castle in the air Forum Resident

    South Carolina
    One of my all time favorites from Robins pleading intro to Barrys last "And let me live again" it is a song that one can escape into on those moments that for whatever the reason one wonders if the bad times will pass and life can get back to normal.
    sunspot42 and Hadean75 like this.
  6. ferdinandhudson

    ferdinandhudson Forum Resident

    I wouldn't hold anything printed in the booklets as any proof whatsoever as to who did what. The Mythology set was littered with errors so I wouldn't put it past Rhino to have ballsed up something in Ultimate as well. Heck, Capitol/Universal bungled up the production credits for the recent Andy Gibb comp so expect more of this in the future. I haven't spot checked Timeless.

    Warner/Chappell still only credits Barry and Robin for HCYMABH and as far as they (and Universal Music Publishing for Robin) are concerned that's all that really matters.

    EDIT: Timeless only credits Barry and Robin for HCYMABH.
  7. Hadean75

    Hadean75 Forum Moonlighter

    How Can You Mend A Broken Heart

    What a lovely song. :agree:

    Beautiful vocals and orchestration. The harmonies in this song just give me goosebumps. This song's heartfelt lyrics are still relevant today. A timeless classic to be sure.

    Sometimes I can't help but to sing along to this song when it comes on lol. :whistle:

    Country Woman

    Love this song. :love:

    Very catchy and upbeat. Maurice could be a great songwriter/lead singer when given the chance. Too bad it never appeared on their studio albums.
  8. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    Adored this song as a child. I turned three around the time it topped the US charts. Yeah, it's a bit Andy Williams, but so what? Beautiful melody, perfectly produced, and a flawless performance. Definitely the song that made me a Bee Gees fan as a tyke.

    Amazing to me - given the amount of tacky crap on the UK charts in the early-'70s (they were far worse than ours) - that this single completely failed to chart there. Maybe the BBC didn't like them or something...
    cut to the chase and Hadean75 like this.
  9. John54

    John54 Forum Resident

    I don't mind How Can You Mend a Broken Heart but it ain't no Melody Fair, that's for sure.
  10. tim_neely

    tim_neely Forum Hall Of Fame

    Central VA
    "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," part 1:

    During the summer of 1971, I discovered Top 40 radio, pretty much for the first time. Between the middle of June and Labor Day, my clock radio spent a lot of time on WFIL, which at the time was Philadelphia's top-rated Top 40 station. That summer, I also went to day camp, and the bus that took me there had its radio on WFIL, too. (When the radio at home wasn't on 'FIL, it was on WCAU to listen to Phillies baseball games, but that was 2 1/2 to 3 hours a day at most.)

    In general, I didn't know either the names or artists of the songs I was hearing until I started collecting 45s in 1973. Some of them I did know, such as "Joy to the World," the Three Dog Night song that actually had been at its peak in April but was still on the radio in the summer. Then there were others I guessed incorrectly, but were close, like "Cherokee People" or "Bring Them Back Alive" or "Only the Beginning" or "We're So Sorry, Uncle Albert." Finally, there were some I had no idea about, like whatever that guy was shouting about happening down in New Orleans.

    In the midst of this glorious maelstrom, I heard a sweet song that pretty much dominated the summer. The radio told me, and I remembered, that it was done by a group called the BG's (I didn't see the name in print until 1973, so I didn't know better) and had something to do with mending a broken heart. My 10-year-old self didn't know what a broken heart was; did one have a broken heart after one had a heart attack, a concept with which I was somewhat familiar? In fact, there were times, because of the way the song was sung, that I thought the lyric was "please help me mend my broken arm." I knew what a broken arm was. I never had one, but people I knew, even one of my sisters, had them by the time I was 10.

    Anyway, I know I have (or had) an old notebook in which I listed this song as one of my favorites of that summer. And you know what? It still is.

    When I started collecting 45s on a small scale in 1973, my first "want list" came from the back of a magazine, probably Hit Parader. An advertiser, which I have since learned was a bootlegger, put together a series of 16-song LPs, one each for the years from 1955 to 1971. These albums were part of a series called Old and Heavy Gold, and each volume purported to have the 16 biggest hits of each year. The best thing about this ad is that the 16 songs on each volume were listed. Rather than buy LPs I couldn't afford, I decided to try to collect all 16 singles from each year. One of the 16 hits from 1971 was "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" by the Bee Gees (the first time I saw the group's name in print). Not long after I started collecting the 45s in this ad, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" became the first Bee Gees song I ever owned.

    Over the years, I learned the true meaning of a broken heart. It has happened to me over and over again, and sometimes it's more a flesh wound than a compound fracture. But it always hurts, and it always takes a long time to recover. And for 47 years, this song has been there.

    I've heard "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" at least hundreds, though more likely thousands, of times since 1971. Sometimes, when I least expect it, perhaps I'm too close to one of my inevitable failures in love, and this song will make me cry. And other times, I'll sing along as if I am pleading to a higher power to "please help me mend my broken heart, and let me live again."

    I am not ashamed to say that "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" is one of my 10 favorite singles of the 1970s, by anyone.
    Hep Alien, granata, jeffmo789 and 3 others like this.
  11. Cookary02

    Cookary02 Forum Resident

    My favourite song of all time. Hands down.
    tim_neely likes this.
  12. Castle in the air

    Castle in the air Forum Resident

    South Carolina

    For me it was WGY out of Schenectady, New York that was on while getting ready for school or through the day if I was out.
    Likewise I heard a lot of these songs without any idea who they were other then a handful.

    My first recollection of listening to this was from the 1979 TV special which was the first time I paid any attention to pre SNF stuff.
    I was addicted at that point and began endlessly turning the radio dial with a tape recorder in front of it to capture any Bee Gees song that got played.
    Thankfully even into the early 80s you could still catch most of them on oldies stations or retrospectives.

    cut to the chase likes this.
  13. bare trees

    bare trees Forum Resident

    "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" is a beautiful song and I enjoy hearing it from time to time but I prefer "Country Woman".
    cut to the chase likes this.
  14. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road

    I like this song. It isn't one of their best (IMO) but still a good track.
  15. tim_neely

    tim_neely Forum Hall Of Fame

    Central VA
    "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," part 2:

    It wasn't mentioned in the introductory post, but an alternate version of "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" has been released inadvertently.

    Quoting Joe Brennan's Gibb Songs: 1971, "An error in the tape library in 2001 resulted in the release of an early state of ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ on the first UK batch of the CD set The Record. It provides a fascinating insight into their recording process. The basic rhythm track of guitar, bass, and drums is the same as on the finished version, and so is Bill Shepherd’s orchestral backing. But the vocal and piano tracks are different and not as good, as the Bee Gees themselves knew, since they replaced them. The most obvious difference is that Barry sings all of the lead vocal, and does not do the famous sigh going into the chorus."

    I don't own this CD, which obviously is a collector's item (the error was fixed quickly and never made it to the U.S.), but I think this is that early-state version:

    "Country Woman" is a cute little song. Because the 45 was mono, a non-LP B-side, and was never on a promo, the first stereo release in the States was on the Tales of the Brothers Gibb box set. But here's what is odd: The version on the Tales box, which presumably came from the original stereo mix, is nine seconds shorter than the flip side of the single, thanks to a premature fade. But then, a more famous song, coming soon, had an early fade on the Tales box by seven seconds. I think that's why some seem to think the U.S. mono versions of these are dedicated rather than fold-downs.


    Cash Box seemed more ambivalent about "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" than it had been about sone other Bee Gees hits. The song was listed sixth in its Picks of the Week for June 12, 1971. (Listed fifth was the first single release of the old Bang recording of "I'm a Believer" by Neil Diamond.) The Cash Box reviewer wrote, "A most unusual effort brings the Bee Gees back from 'Lonely Days.' Latest is a slower, almost country-ballad styled performance which links an intricate melody segment with more powerful thrusts to give the track top forty impetus."

    also thought it was a mid-pack hit at best. In its June 12, 1971 issue, it put seven new singles in its Top 20 Pop Spotlight, and "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" wasn't among them. Instead, it was in the Top 60 Pop Spotlight, with an asterisk predicting a Top 40 Easy Listening placement: "Another super ballad performance from the Gibbses that offers much of the chart and sales potency of another 'Lonely Jays.' [sic]"

    Record World
    was the outlier, as it once again put its review of the song on Page 1, one of its four Singles of the Week for June 12: "Gibb brothers' 'Lonely Days' made their comeback a smashing success and sealed the fate of this follow-up. Lovely tune can't miss."

    Record World got it right.

    "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" was an across-the-board #1 pop hit. Even Billboard, which had been placing most Bee Gees songs lower than in the other two trades, sometimes significantly, was on board this time. In fact, the four weeks it spent at #1 in the Hot 100 was more than in either of the other two trades.

    It replaced "You've Got a Friend" by James Taylor at #1 the week ending August 7 and spent the entire month at the top. In the process, "Mr. Big Stuff" by Jean Knight and "Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver with Fat City stalled at #2 behind the Bee Gees' hit. The fast-rising "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" by Paul & Linda McCartney finally ended the song's reign.

    Because I commemorated the Bee Gees' first #1 hits in Cash Box and Record World, I'll do the same for Billboard. Here are the top 10 of the Hot 100 the week ending August 7, 1971:
    1. "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," Bee Gees (last week: 6; 7th week on chart)
    2. "Indian Reservation," Raiders (LW 2, 18th week)
    3. "You've Got a Friend," James Taylor (LW 1, 10th week)
    4. "Mr. Big Stuff," Jean Knight (LW 4, 11th week)
    5. "Draggin' the Line," Tommy James (LW 5, 9th week)
    6. "Take Me Home, Country Roads," John Denver with Fat City (LW 8, 16th week)
    7. "It's Too Late"/"I Feel the Earth Move," Carole King (LW 3, 14th week)
    8. "Beginnings"/"Colour My World," Chicago (LW 14, 7th week)
    9. "What the World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin and John," Tom Clay (LW 10, 5th week)
    10. "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)," Marvin Gaye (LW 11, 6th week)

    In Cash Box, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" spent three weeks at #1, August 14, 21, and 28. As in Billboard, it replaced "You've Got a Friend" by James Taylor, but it was dethroned by "Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver with Fat City.

    Finally, in Record World, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" spent only one week at #1, and that was August 14, 1971. The week before, "Mr. Big Stuff" by Jean Knight was on top, and in the August 21 issue, "Draggin' the Line" by Tommy James hit #1.

    In addition, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" became the Bee Gees' first Top 10 hit on the lighter-music charts. It peaked at #6 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart, and it got all the way to #3 on "The M.O R. Chart" in Record World.

    Finally, the RIAA certified "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" Gold for sales of a million 45s on August 26, 1971 -- the second straight Bee Gees single so honored.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018
  16. jeffmo789

    jeffmo789 Give The Gift of Music!

    New England
    This is yet another case where I prefer the live version, partly because that is how I first heard it, but also because I prefer the live arrangement (Here At Last...) and dislike the studio production sound.

    Great song and deserving of #1
  17. Lorin

    Lorin Forum Resident

    The alternate take of Heart with Barry singing lead throughout can be found on youtube.
  18. Castle in the air

    Castle in the air Forum Resident

    South Carolina
    Without Robins lead in the song is still really good but not the masterpiece it is now.
    sunspot42 likes this.
  19. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    Barry's phrasing is inferior to Robin's. That's interesting to hear. The harmonies in this one are more powerful though - they're good, but I don't think they fit the melancholy mood of the tune as well as the final version's.

    Is it my imagination, or does the Barry version feel a little more country for some reason? It's borderline countrypolitan, which I never really realized before. There's a slight twang to his vocal. I wonder if they were inspired by Ray Price's cover of "For The Good Times" - another huge favorite of mine when I was a tyke.
    Hadean75 likes this.
  20. tim_neely

    tim_neely Forum Hall Of Fame

    Central VA
    "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," part 3:

    The gap between the release of "Lonely Days" and "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" was unusually long. The date listed on 45cat is June 1971, which seems about right. It would have had to be very early in the month, though, considering that the reviews appeared in the June 12 issue of the trade papers. The seven months between these two 45s was longer than that between "I.O.I.O." and "Lonely Days," a period when there was no Bee Gees. In retrospect, I'm surprised there was no single between the two massive hits, just to try to keep the momentum going. In the end, it wasn't really needed.

    As usual, the U.S. 45 -- both sides, even the non-LP B-side -- was in fold-down mono. Released as Atco 45-6824, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" has a matrix number of 71C-22087 and "Country Woman" 71C-22092. These numbers seem to have been assigned based on an early running order of the forthcoming Trafalgar album, a tape of which Atco appears to have had on hand already.

    The LP wouldn't be released in the U.S. until September 1971 (and even later elsewhere). I suspect part of the reason was that the Gibbs, the label, and management had an unusually difficult time deciding on a track order, or even what songs were to be on the album. Throw in a couple of tours that kept the band on the road much of the summer, and it's no wonder the LP was delayed.

    The first version Atlantic had 14 tracks; it started with "Broken Heart," included "Country Woman" as the sixth of seven songs on side 1, and had sides that would have been 28 minutes long each. Two songs were eventually excised from that original version -- "Country Woman" and "We Lost the Road," the latter of which would appear on their next album.

    As for the 45s themselves, once again Atlantic used four pressing plants. Copies from Specialty (SP) and Plastic Products (PL) were vinyl; copies from Monarch (MO) and Shelly (LY) were styrene. As was true with "Lonely Days," the versions from SP, PL, and LY appear to exist in one variation each, whereas the situation from MO is a bit more complicated.

    Interestingly, the artist credit on all stock copies is "The Bee Gees" -- the article has returned for this single. The publishers on side 1 are Casserole and Warner-Tamerlane and only Casserole on side 2, because Robin Gibb didn't have a role in writing that side.

    Both the Specialty and Plastic Products copies have "MFG. BY ATLANTIC RECORDING CORP., 1841 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, N.Y." as the perimeter print and the production credit as "Prod. by The Bee Gees & Robert Stigwood".

    The Shelly edition has the catalog number as "6824" (no "45-" prefix), adds the zip code to the perimeter print ("MFG. BY ATLANTIC RECORDING CORP., 1841 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, N.Y. 10023") and has the production credit as "Produced by The Bee Gees & Robert Stigwood".

    Once again, Monarch copies exist with both the older ("Division of ATLANTIC RECORDS, New York, N.Y.") and contemporary ("MFG. BY ATLANTIC RECORDING CORP., 1841 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, N.Y.") perimeter print. I've only seen one variation of each, but there could be more. On the version with the "Division" print, there is a space between the word VOCAL and the matrix number on the A-side, but not on the B-side. On the version with the "MFG." print, the space on the A-side has been closed. Monarch pressings don't seem to be as common as they are for some other Bee Gees 45s, so I didn't see a lot of examples to determine if more than two versions exist.

    It is my experience that, for "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," Shelly pressings are far more common than those from any other pressing plant.


    By the time promo copies of "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" were manufactured, the Atlantic labels decided to use different labels for the mono and stereo sides, to make it even easier for radio stations to tell which was which. (The sides already were labeled MONO and STEREO, which must not have been clear enough for some.) The mono side retained a white label; the stereo side would receive a pale blue label. Atlantic would continue to use light blue labels for 45 rpm promos well into the 1980s, long after they had become stereo on both sides.

    Promos for "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" came from SP and (probably) PL, mono/stereo, white label mono, pale blue label stereo.

    One of the oddest U.S. Bee Gees 45s ever was a "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" promo that came from Monarch. It's a one-sided pressing, white label, mono only, but the printing on it is so amateurish that it looks like a bootleg. It has "Atco Records" in block lettering in two lines at the top; no publishing credit except BMI; no 45- prefix before the catalog number; unlike other Atco promos, it has the words PROMOTION COPY at the left and NOT FOR SALE at the right; and most odd of all is the artist credit:
    B E E G E E S
    (no "The" and one word!).

    My best guess is that it was hurriedly pressed to meet radio demand, as the song broke very fast.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
  21. gregorya

    gregorya Forum Resident

    I would call that a very good night by anyone's standard... ;)

    Both tracks are among my favourite by the group.
    jeffmo789 and Hadean75 like this.
  22. LouieG

    LouieG Forum Resident

    "If Only I Had My Mind on Something Else" has Barry in good voice, but was probably not the best commercial choice for a single. It actually sounds a bit unfinished, the same way "Sweetheart" loses the tightness of the vocals in the chorus. By this time, the group was pretty much finished.
  23. LouieG

    LouieG Forum Resident

    Would have been nice if Billboard was in agreement with the other trade papers in ranking "Lonely Days" at #1. That would have given them 10 true #1's in America.
    sunspot42 likes this.
  24. idleracer

    idleracer Forum Resident

    :kilroy: I would never have picked anything as slow as this to ever make it to #1, but 1971 was certainly unpredictable, if nothing else. What's interesting to me is how the verses begin with an E6 chord, featuring Robin lingering on the 6th for a long time. Then the chorus starts off with an Emaj7 chord with Barry lingering on the major 7th for even longer. Like most of the album it came off of, I think it would've been a lot more appealing if they had picked up the tempo, but what do I know?
    sunspot42 likes this.
  25. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    even Waylon & Jessie tried to attempt 'Sweetheart'.
    pablo fanques and Hep Alien like this.

Share This Page