Bee Gees

New York Mining Disaster 1941

Composed by Barry Gibb / Robin Gibb

Song Review by

The Bee Gees had already landed some hit singles in Australia prior to 1967, but "New York Mining Disaster 1941" was the song that made them international stars, becoming a sizable hit in both Britain and the United States in mid-1967. Even before this, the Bee Gees' records had been noted for some similarities to the Beatles, particularly in the harmonies. "New York Mining Disaster 1941" if anything made the most of the similarities, and in America (where no one had heard of or seen the Bee Gees) there were even rumors when the single was released that it was the Beatles using a different name. The song, like many by the Beatles and some other British groups as British rock moved from mod to psychedelia, was not concerned with love at all, but constructed a story of sorts. In "New York Mining Disaster 1941," the song was sung from the point of view of a trapped miner, giving messages to his loved ones and wondering what it's like on the outside. The opening section is a dirge of particularly haunting minor chords, sung in the brothers' soon-to-be-familiar close harmonies. This changes to a brisker busk before reaching the chorus, with its yearning, almost desperate query for information from the outside world. This ends on a particularly piquant, drawn-out enunciation of the name of the target of the query, Mr. Jones. Though more lightweight than the unusual psychedelic pop songs that the best British groups, such as the Beatles and a few others, were writing around 1967, "New York Mining Disaster 1941" was a respectably adventurous, unusual single, conveying angst and a nostalgic war-story sort of atmosphere well. Indeed it was considerably more adventurous than most of the Bee Gees' output over the next few decades, which usually stuck to more conventional romantic themes.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Bee Gees' 1st 1967 Bee Gees / Universal 2:39
Best of Bee Gees 1969 Bee Gees / Polydor 2:09
No Image 1976 Polydor 2:09
Here at Last...Bee Gees...Live 1977 Bee Gees / Polydor 2:16
No Image 1983 RSO
Bee Gees Story 1989 Polydor 2:09
Tales from the Brothers Gibb 1990 Bee Gees / Universal 2:11
Classic Rock: 1967 - Blowin' Your Mind 1990
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:12
No Image 1991
Various Artists
One Night Only 1998 Bee Gees / Polydor 2:15
One Night Only [Video] 1998 Eagle Vision
Very Best of the Bee Gees 1998 Polygram 2:10
Best! 2000 1999 RSO 2:12
22 Hits of the Bee Gees 2000 Polydor 2:11
History 2001 Universal International 2:12
Their Greatest Hits: The Record 2001 Bee Gees / Polydor 2:11
Too Much Heaven: Songs of the Brothers Gibb 2004 Retroactive 2:11
The Studio Albums 1967-1968 2006 Reprise / Rhino 2:03
The  Ultimate Bee Gees 2009 Universal 2:10
Atlantic Records: The Time Capsule 2009
Various Artists
Atlantic 2:11
Mythology: The 50th Anniversary Collection 2010 Reprise 2:11
The Warner Bros. Years 1987-1991 2014 Reprise 2:15
Timeless: The All-Time Greatest Hits 2017 Universal 2:10
No Image
Various Artists
Sire 2:07
No Image Bee Gees / Reprise 2:15
blue highlight denotes editor's pick