"First of May" is a song by the Bee Gees with lead vocals by Barry Gibb, released as a single from their 1969 double album Odessa. Its B-side was "Lamplight". On the 1996 reissue of this single, its flipside was "How Deep Is Your Love" as the song re-entered the charts in Japan reaching No. 25. It was used as a B-side of "Melody Fair" in 1971 on the Melody soundtrack as well as in 1976 and 1980 on RSO Records. Also in 1980, sometimes, it was chosen as the A-side with "Melody Fair" as the B-side only in Japan. It was the first Bee Gees single after guitarist Vince Melouney left.
It was first recorded in Atlantic Studios in New York and was continued in IBC Studios, London. Barry says in Tales from the Brothers Gibb that the title of the song came from the birthday of his dog, Barnaby. Maurice recalled the session in which that song came about. "Barry and I were sitting at the piano", he said, "And I started playing the chords, and Barry started singing, 'When I was small and Christmas trees were tall' and started singing along with it. We put a demo down with a vocal and we kept the piano track. Went back to England, and went into IBC Studios in London, added onto that piano track and Barry's vocal stayed on as well. We had a choir and an orchestra all on this one piano". This song was initially taped in demo form in New York City on 16 August 1968.
The orchestral arrangement from maestro Bill Shepherd was featured on the second chorus. The song starts with a piano on the first verse and chorus. Shepherd's orchestra was featured in second verse and second chorus. After singing the second chorus, the singer repeated the first verse. The music was stopped when he sings don't ask me why, but time has passed us by, Someone else moved in from far away.
The flip side of a single was "Lamplight" on which Robin Gibb sang the lead. Robert Stigwood, the Bee Gees manager chose "First of May" for the A-side. No other singles were released from the Odessa album, as Robin Gibb already had left the group. The song was partially responsible for the departure of Robin Gibb from the Bee Gees. Robin had wanted his song, "Lamplight," to be the album's first single, while Barry preferred "First of May." In the end, Barry's judgment won, and Robin quit the band. "First of May" debuted at #55 in Cash Box magazine charts by the week of 22 March 1969.
After its release, "First of May" enjoyed a resurgence several times. In 1971, the song was featured in the soundtrack to Melody, a British motion picture about puppy love. In 1996, the song was used as a theme of the Japanese dramaWakaba no Koro. The song reissued on CD climbed the country's chart for the first time and gained moderate commercial success, selling more than 100,000 copies.