Barry Gibb & The Surprising Backstory Of ‘You Should Be Dancing’ – In The Now With Tim Roxborogh Part 3

Barry Gibb

For part 3 of this web-series celebrating the Friday-release of Barry Gibb’s new album In The Now, here’s another transcribed section of my recent interview with him. This one is all about the backstory of You Should Be Dancing and how it’s the 40th anniversary of that song going to US number 1. Scroll to the bottom of the interview to hear You Should Be Dancing with just the vocals only and be reminded of how detailed the Gibb vocals and harmony lines could be.

And if you’re like me, you might be surprised to learn that buried within the final mix of You Should Be Dancing is Barry singing along in falsetto with the iconic trumpet solo. You also clearly hear each breath taken before singing and the clarity on the echoed line, “Whatcha’ doin’ on ya’ back,” is much greater than when you listen to it with the music. I still find it to be a spectacular song, right down to Maurice’s cascading bass that even somebody like Bernard Edwards would’ve been impressed by.

Once you’ve listened to that and being conscious of the fact we are In The Now and not just looking back, you can hear one of the tracks from Barry’s new album, a song dedicated to his wife Linda called Star Crossed Lovers. Come back tomorrow for part 4 with Barry going behind the scenes of In The Now, but in the meantime, here is part 3:

Barry Gibb In The Now With Tim Roxborogh Part 3: Barry Explains The Backstory Of ‘You Should Be Dancing’

TR: There was a photo from London when you were recently there that had you, your son Ashley and Ashley’s boy…

BG: Oh Lucas? Yeah…

TR: Yeah, Lucas. And everyone was saying, “Gosh, look at these three generations, they’re lookalikes!”

BG: True. And that was at the Sony Summer Party and can Lucas dance! We’d never seen this before (laughs), but he was all over the floor, you know? But the rest of us could only look on in amazement. This kid’s got some fantastic moves.

TR: Wow!

BG: I know!

Ashley, Lucas and Barry Gibb.

TR: (Roxborogh with a tenuous link…) That brings me then to the 40th anniversary of You Should Be Dancing going to US number one [in early September 1976], it was just the other day. If we briefly go back, because that song’s got some cool stories like Stephen Stills on percussion and something like 16 layers of percussion, are there any sort of fun things you can remember about recording that song?

BG: Oh I remember a lot of that song. I remember that we cut the track at least four times. That we fixed things over and over again throughout that two weeks that it took to put that altogether. And Stephen Stills playing percussion at 5 in the morning, you know? With um, playing sticks. And just the incredible environment that we were discovering something. We were discovering more accurate rhythms, we were discovering Latin rhythms and because we lived in Miami that was all around us so it just happened that way, you know? But it’s still very vivid.

TR: It’s an incredible song. It’s one of those ones I love to listen to loud and just try and hear all the different detail in it. I only discovered recently that you’re doing falsetto singing along with the trumpet solo. And I only found that out because on YouTube you can listen to just the vocal with none of the instrumentation.

BG: Yeah. I think we did things like that. I did the explosion on Tragedy and things like that, just by mouth and Karl Richardson would add various things to that to create that explosion. With You Should Be Dancing it was the sudden emergence of having as many tracks as you wanted. So you would always add something else that made it unusual.

I’m singing the instrumental in Jive Talkin’, you know? Because if everything sticks together it becomes a little bit more unusual. But you kept trying things, you just kept trying things. Some things stuck and some things didn’t, but I remember that You Should Be Dancing in particular, it took 10 of us to mix that song. [As in], 10 at the board. You couldn’t update anything, there was no such thing. So you had to do the whole mix at once with everybody moving faders. My fader was the repeat of the echo of (breaking into falsetto) “Whatcha’ doin’ on ya’ back?” There’s a little repeat on that…

TR: Yeah, it’s, “ya’ back, ya’ back, ya’ back…” (laughs)

BG: That’s my job! (laughs)

TR: That was your job, OK. Well you did that well!

BG: (laughs) But if somebody got something wrong, you had to do the whole thing again.

TR: Is that right?

BG: In those days you couldn’t keep anything. There was no computerized scenario, you know?

TR: Generally artists will say that they can’t tell which of their songs are going to be hits, but was that one of those ones, when you’re mixing it and you’re all there at the same time having to have all the channels, where you’re going, “You know what? This song, this song is going to be a smash hit.”

BG: Well I don’t think you can ever say that about any song. I think you can look at each other and go, “this is great. This is special.” Whether it’s chart special or radio special, this was special for us. I have said before that I think Islands In The Stream struck us as a number one record, before anyone recorded it. So sometimes you really feel it. I really felt it with How Deep Is Your Love and we were just having a great time with You Should Be Dancing because suddenly everyone was wanting to dance and we wanted to make a record like that. So I think it was us doing that.

I liken some of these things to McCartney’s comments about writing a song like the Beach Boys with Here, There And Everywhere and I guess it’s like that. There’s someone out there you really admire and you want to do a song like that so You Should Be Dancing fits that mold. But How Deep was one of a kind, it wasn’t really based on any other artist, it was just a feeling.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Unknown says:

    I knew he "bahp-bada-bah-dah-dah"d in that solo!! 🙂 These are fantastic, Tim!! – Tonja

  2. MatheusFT says:

    These vocals-only tracks just show how the Bee Gees were a singing group…the songs don't sound like a demo, they work perfectly with nothing but the vocals.

  3. Thomas Thurman says:

    pure talent, not realising the time of capturing confident enjoyment with ease, that’s what the best do in their art, or performance.

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