I've Gotta Get a Message to You

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"I've Gotta Get a Message to You"
Single by Bee Gees
from the album Idea
B-side "Kitty Can"
Released 7 September 1968
Format 7"
Recorded 12 July 1968
Genre Soft rock, psychedelic pop, baroque pop
Length 2:59
3:01 (single mix)
Label Polydor 56 273[1]
Atco (United States, Canada)
Writer(s) Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb[1]
Producer(s) Robert Stigwood, Bee Gees[1]
Bee Gees singles chronology
"I've Gotta Get a Message to You"
"I Started a Joke"

Music sample
Idea track listing

"I've Gotta Get a Message to You" is a rock ballad by the Bee Gees. Released as a single on 7 September 1968, it became their second number-one single on the UK Singles Chart.[1] It was also their first US Top 10 hit.

Writing and recording[edit]

The song is about a man who, awaiting his execution in the electric chair, begs the prison chaplain to pass a final message on to his wife.[2] Robin Gibb, who wrote the lyrics, said that the man's crime was the murder of his wife's lover, though the lyrics do not explicitly allude to the identity of the victim. Robin said: "This is about a prisoner on Death Row who only has a few hours to live. He wants the prison chaplain to pass on a final message to his wife. There's a certain urgency about it. Myself and Barry wrote it. It's a bit like writing a script. Sometimes you can sit there for three hours with your guitar and nothing will happen. Then in the last ten minutes something will spark."[3] The song was written with Percy Sledge in mind to record it.[4] Sledge did record it in February 1970 but Atlantic did not issue this version in the United States at the time.

Barry recalls: "In those days, the lyrics were almost pretty well done on the spot. I don't remember the fundamentals on how the lyrics were formed, except that we were writing about a guy on death row. That was it".

Robin adds:

"It was like acting, you see, we said, let's pretend that somebody, his life is on the line, somebody's going to the chair. What would be going through their mind? Let's not make it doom and gloom but sort of an appeal to the person he loves. Because right now that's all he cares about. Regardless of whether he's done a bad thing, he is a human being, and he's sending out this last message. There's someone out there whom he loves. It's a torch song, but within a very sort of theatrical sense. Not sort of abstract, but definitely somebody in a very bad situation whose life is going to end. What would they be saying, you know? This is it: 'Gotta get a message to you, hold on".[5]

"I've Gotta Get a Message to You" was recorded with "I Laugh in Your Face" (released on Odessa in 1969) on 12 July 1968. This track was not recorded during the Idea sessions, which had concluded on June 25th with the recording of "I Started a Joke".[6] As Barry explains: Now that was a memorable night, The song we wrote together, all three of us. I think that night, I know for a fact, we didn't sing the choruses in harmony. Robert called us back to the studio at 11 o'clock at night and said, 'I want the choruses in harmony, I don't want them in just melody. I want three-part harmony choruses.' So we went in and attempted that 'round about midnight. Everyone drove back to the studio, and that's what we did". The song features bass lines by Maurice Gibb as Barry explained: "He had a lot of intensity in his bass, Mo was a real McCartney bass freak, as a lot of us were. He would pick up on all the things that McCartney would [do]. Maurice was very good on different instruments, you know. Good lead guitarist, good bass player, good keyboard player. He was versatile. He loved playing bass more than anything else, I think, at that time."[5]


The song became the group's second UK number one single. It also went to number one in Ireland, and reached number eight in the US, becoming their first top-ten hit in the Billboard Hot 100. In the United Kingdom the song was released as a single only. The song appeared on the US edition of the Bee Gees' third album Idea, but not in the United Kingdom, where the Vince Melouney track "Such a Shame" appeared instead. Both songs are featured on CD editions of the album. The song was sent to Atlantic Records with "I Laugh in Your Face", therefore it would be reasonable to assume that the latter was the intended B-side. However, it was dropped in favour of "Kitty Can".


"I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You" has appeared in five versions all made from the same recording, but heard at three different speeds, faded out at three different points, and with different elements mixed forward. As to the speed, Bill Inglot said in 1999 that the mix he made for the Tales from the Brothers Gibb box in 1990 is at the correct real tape speed. This speed is intermediate between the mono and stereo mixes released in 1968. The correct speed can be achieved by playing the mono single mix at 98.8% and the LP stereo mix at 103.0%, which brings them to the correct timing.

The first mix to appear was the mono mix for the single, followed closely by a stereo mix that appeared on North American copies of the Idea album. The two sound very different. For most of the song the album mix has percussion effects and string overdubs not heard (or barely heard) in the single mix. In the ending, most of the second chorus (2:28-2:37 at the correct speed) has lead vocal in the album mix but wordless backing vocal in the single mix, until at ‘hold on’ they resume the same vocal tracks. The slower album mix is shorter because it fades out much sooner, 4 seconds sooner at the speed given, or 11 seconds sooner at corrected speed. At 2:45 (correct speed) fans hear a spoken ‘save your voice’ in the stereo album mix, and also less distinctly in the Tales from the Brothers Gibb mix.

During preparation of The Studio Albums 1967-1968 box set, another mix from 1968 was discovered, a mono mix that sounds like the 1968 stereo mix. Since the North American Idea LP was released only in stereo, this companion mono mix was never released. It plays faster than the stereo mix, but that is true of all the mono mixes for Idea.



The Soldiers version[edit]

"I've Gotta Get a Message to You"
Single by The Soldiers
from the album Message to You
Released 23 October 2011
Format CD single, Digital download
Recorded 2011
Genre Vocal
Length 3:19
Label Demon Music Group
Producer(s) Nick Patrick
RJ Gibb (Robin Gibb vocal session)
The Soldiers singles chronology
"Letters Home"
"I've Gotta Get a Message to You"

In 2011, The Soldiers recorded the song with Robin Gibb for the Royal British Legion's annual charity single. It was released on 23 October 2011 in the United Kingdom on iTunes. This song charted at number 75 on the UK Singles Chart. A music video to accompany the release of "I've Gotta Get A Message To You" was first released onto YouTube on 13 October 2011.[18]

Track listing[edit]

CD/Digital download
  1. "I've Gotta Get a Message to You" – 3:19
  2. "I've Gotta Get a Message to You" (Full Instrumental Version) – 3:17

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2009) Peak
UK Indie (Official Charts Company)[19] 10
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[20] 75


  1. ^ a b c d Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. pp. 119–20. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  2. ^ Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, First Edition, Omnibus Press, 2000. ISBN 9781844490578
  3. ^ "I've Gotta Get A Message To You by Bee Gees Songfacts". Songfacts.com. 2009-11-01. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  4. ^ Tales Of The Brothers Gibb, First Edition, Omnibus Press, 2000. ISBN 9781844490578
  5. ^ a b Sandoval, Andrew. "Bee Gees - Idea at Album Liner Notes". Album Liner Notes. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Joseph Brennan. "Gibb Songs - 1968". Columbia.edu. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Songs Written by the Gibb Family on the International Charts" (PDF). brothersgibb.org. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Bee Gees - I've Gotta Get a Message to You". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Bee Gees - I've Gotta Get a Message to You". ultratop.be. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  10. ^ "Bee Gees - I've Gotta Get a Message to You". officialcharts.de. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "Bee Gees - I've Gotta Get a Message to You". Dutch Charts. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "Bee Gees - I've Gotta Get a Message to You". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "Bee Gees - I've Gotta Get a Message to You". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "Bee Gees - Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "Bee Gees Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography". musicvf.com. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "Cashbox Top 100 Charts". Cashbox Archives. October 19, 1968. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  17. ^ "Cashbox Top 100 Singles". Cashbox Archives. November 16, 1968. Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  18. ^ "The Soldiers with Robin Gibb - I've Gotta Get A Message To You [Official Video]". YouTube. 2011-10-23. Retrieved 2014-04-07. 
  19. ^ "Archive Chart: 11-11-05" UK Indie Chart.
  20. ^ "Soldiers - I've Gotta Get A Message To You With Robin Gibb". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on 28 July 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Do It Again" by The Beach Boys
UK Singles Chart number-one single (Bee Gees version)
4–10 September 1968
Succeeded by
"Hey Jude" by The Beatles
Preceded by
"Hey Jude" by The Beatles
Irish Singles Chart number-one single (Bee Gees version)
21–27 September 1968
Succeeded by
"Hey Jude" by The Beatles