Massachusetts (Bee Gees song)

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Single by the Bee Gees
from the album Horizontal
  • "Barker of the UFO" (UK)
  • "Sir Geoffrey Saved the World" (US)
Released19 September 1967
Recorded9–17 August 1967
StudioIBC (Portland Place, London)
The Bee Gees UK singles chronology
"To Love Somebody"
The Bee Gees US singles chronology
Audio sample
Music video
"Massachusetts" on YouTube

"(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts" is a song by the Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb and released in 1967.[5] Robin Gibb sang lead vocals on this song and it would become one of his staple songs to perform during both Bee Gees concerts and his solo appearances. It later appeared on their 1968 album, Horizontal.

The song became the first of the group's five No. 1 hits on the UK Singles Chart, reached No. 1 in 12 other countries, peaked at No. 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and eventually sold over five million copies worldwide.[4][6] When the brothers wrote the song, they had never been to Massachusetts.[5] In a UK television special on ITV in December 2011, it was voted third (behind "How Deep Is Your Love" and "You Win Again") in "The Nation's Favourite Bee Gees Song".[7]

Writing and inspiration[edit]

The song was written in the Regis Hotel, New York City during a tour of the United States. The song was intended as an antithesis to flower power anthems of the time such as "Let's Go to San Francisco" and "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" in that the protagonist had been to San Francisco to join the hippies but was now homesick. The idea of the lights having gone out in Massachusetts was to suggest that everyone had gone to San Francisco.[8]

There are two different memories, Robin remembers us doing it in a boat going around New York City. And I remember us checking in at the St. Regis with Robert, going to the suite, and while the bags were being brought in we were so high on being in New York, that's how 'Massachusetts' began. I think we were strumming basically the whole thing, and then I think we went on a boat round New York. I don't know if we finished it, but I think that's where the memories collide. Everybody wrote it. All three of us were there when the song was born.

The song was originally intended for The Seekers. Upon arriving in London from Australia (following in the path of the Seekers, who had arrived several years earlier) the Bee Gees had been unsuccessful in getting the song to the group, so they recorded it themselves. During a chance meeting in London between the Seekers' lead singer Judith Durham and Maurice Gibb, Durham learned that "Massachusetts" was originally intended for her group and in 2003 the Seekers recorded the song as a tribute to Maurice following his death earlier that year.

The Bee Gees had never actually been to Massachusetts when they recorded the song; they just liked the sound of the name as it was unusual, containing a lot of S's.[10]


"Massachusetts" was recorded on 9 August 1967, along with "Sir Geoffrey Saved the World", at the IBC Studios in London and finished on 17 August.[11] Barry feels Bill Shepherd's orchestral score is perhaps the arranger's finest: "We never expected him to do that. Sometimes we would sing what we would [imagine] the strings doing. But in this case he did that himself, and I thought it was great. 'Massachusetts' was our first #1 in England".[9]


Before the release of this song, Australians Colin Petersen and Vince Melouney were facing deportation, and it appeared that they might have to leave the band as a result. On 12 August, British fans staged a protest on behalf of the musicians at the cottage of Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Three days later Bee Gees fan Deirdre Meehan chained and handcuffed herself to Buckingham Palace to protest the possible deportation. Ultimately, the musicians were allowed to stay.[9]

On 27 August 1967, Beatles' manager Brian Epstein told Maurice Gibb that "'Massachusetts' is a great song that would be very successful."[citation needed] Epstein died later that night.

When it was released in the UK, the title was "Massachusetts (The Lights Went Out in)" but the subtitle was later dropped. In America, Atco Records delayed it to release "Holiday".[12] The song "Massachusetts" has a minor claim to fame in the history of British radio as it was the second record played on BBC Radio 1. The first song to be played was "Flowers in the Rain" by The Move.[citation needed] It was the first No. 1 hit single by a non-Japanese artist on Japan's official hit chart, Oricon Singles Chart,[13] on 1 April 1968,[14] and would end up as the band's biggest selling single there.

Cash Box said that it is "a splendidly arranged ballad somewhat in the Scott McKenzie bag."[15]




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Germany 2,000,000[28]
France 220,000[29]
Japan 517,000[30]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[31] Gold  
United Kingdom 300,000[32]
Worldwide 5,000,000[6]

Notable cover versions[edit]

  • Yugoslav rock band Siluete recorded a version of the song in 1967 for the Yugoslav TV show Koncert za ludi mladi svet (A Concert for Young Crazy World). The video for the song eas shot in the Wild West town settings in the Avala Film Studios.[33]
  • The Seekers recorded this song following the death of Maurice Gibb.[34]
  • Rita Wilson and Leslie Odom, Jr. covered the song in 2022 for Wilson's album Rita Wilson Now & Forever: Duets[35]


  1. ^ Dale, Jon (24 June 2015). "Robin Gibb – Saved By The Bell – The Collected Works Of Robin Gibb 1968-1970". Uncut. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  2. ^ Segretto, Mike (2022). "1977". 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Minute - A Critical Trip Through the Rock LP Era, 1955–1999. Backbeat. pp. 341–342. ISBN 9781493064601.
  3. ^ Lanza, Joesph (10 November 2020). "We Skipped the Light Fandango Into a Funeral Pyre". Easy-Listening Acid Trip - An Elevator Ride Through '60s Psychedelic Pop. Port Townsend: Feral House. p. 53.
  4. ^ a b c d Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 112. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  5. ^ a b "Show 49 - The British are Coming! The British are Coming!: With an emphasis on Donovan, the Bee Gees and the Who". Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  6. ^ a b Billboard Vol. 85, No. 34. Nielsen Business Media. 25 August 1973. p. 18. Retrieved 21 March 2012. five million copies of.
  7. ^ "The Nation's Favourite Bee Gees Song". ITV. 9 December 2011.
  8. ^ Hughes, Andrew (2009). The Bee Gees: Tales of the Brothers Gibb. ISBN 9780857120045. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Sandoval, Andrew. "Bee Gees - Horizontal". Album Liner Notes. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Behind the Track: 'Massachusetts'". Bee Gees. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  11. ^ Brennan, Joseph. "Gibb Songs: 1967". Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  12. ^ Brennan, Joseph. "Gibb Songs: 1967". Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  13. ^ a b "ビージーズのシングル売上TOP14作品". Oricon (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 24 December 2023. マサチューセッツ - 最高順位 - 1位 - 登場回数 - 30週
  14. ^ a b "あの時代のヒット曲Vol.13!1968/4/1付オリコンチャート". Oricon (in Japanese). 4 March 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2019. <68/4/1付週間シングルチャート> 女性ポップスのトップ争いをすり抜けて、ビージーズ「マサチューセッツ」が首位をさらった格好に
  15. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. 4 November 1967. p. 22. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "Songs Written by the Gibb Family on the International Charts" (PDF). Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  17. ^ a b "Bee Gees - Massachusetts". Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  18. ^ a b "Bee Gees - Massachusetts". Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  19. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. p. 97. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  20. ^ a b "Bee Gees - Massachusetts". Dutch Charts. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  21. ^ a b "Bee Gees - Massachusetts". Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  22. ^ "Kvällstoppen 1966-1969" (PDF) (in Swedish). Hits Aller Tijden. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  23. ^ a b "Bee Gees - Massachusetts". Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  24. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 211–2. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  25. ^ "Bee Gees - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  26. ^ "Bee Gees - Massachusetts". Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  27. ^ "Bee Gees - Massachusetts". Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  28. ^ Günter Ehnert (2000). Hit Bilanz – Deutsche Chart Singles 1956–1980 (1 ed.). Norderstedt: Verlag populärer Musik-Literatur. p. 443. ISBN 3-922542-24-7.
  29. ^ Bouton, Remou (4 May 1968). "Classical Subscription Pioneer". Billboard. p. DGG-10. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 21 March 2023 – via Google Books.
  30. ^ オリジナルコンフィデンス. 歴代洋楽シングル売り上げ枚数ランキング (in Japanese). 年代流行. Archived from the original on 25 September 2023. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  31. ^ "Triple Crown" (PDF). Cash Box. 16 May 1970. p. 64. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  32. ^ "Cash Box - Great Britain" (PDF). Cash Box. 4 November 1967. p. 62. Retrieved 2 September 2023.
  33. ^ Fajfrić, Željko; Nenad, Milan (2009). Istorija YU rock muzike od početaka do 1970. Sremska Mitrovica: Tabernakl. p. 327.
  34. ^ "18 Songs Originally Written For Other Artists". 5 November 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  35. ^ Zemler, Emily (3 September 2022). "Hear Leslie Odom Jr. Join Rita Wilson for Cover of the Bee Gees' 'Massachusetts'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 September 2022.