It did not take the excellent cover version by the Flying Burrito Brothers to make the gospel-informed "To Love Somebody" so compelling; the original Bee Gees recording from 1967, from The Bee Gee's 1st LP, is moving enough. The simple title refrain of the chorus, "You don't know what it's like/Baby, you don't know what it's like/To love somebody...the way I love you," is at once heartbreaking and triumphant, a self-pitying put-down to an unrequited love. "There's...a certain kind of light that never shines on me...You ain't got to be so glad...I'm a man, can't you see what I am?/I live and breathe for you/But what good does that do/If I ain't got you?"
The verses are musically uplifting in their longing, the chorus a rousing sing-along. It is as if the narrator is made that much stronger by his admission of his weakness for the unattainable. And, somewhat perversely, the Burritos' more languid version is that even more exultant ultimately, with Graham Parsons allowed to really dig into the lyric and ad lib a bit more with lines like "You just don't know what it's like." But Barry Gibb himself is righteously soulful on the original, giving an inspired performance: "So, so, so glad." The brothers Maurice and Robin provide their famous harmonies for the memorable, stop-time, quiet chorus, which picks up for a stirring reprieve for the fade-out. While the Burritos' recording -- first released on the 1974 compilation Close Up the Honky-Tonks -- is primarily kept to acoustic guitar, pedal steel, bass, and drums, the Gibbs' version is orchestrated tastefully, with horns and timpani providing just the right amount of panache and drama. The song has become a bit of a pop standard, with other notable versions from Nina Simone, Janis Joplin, the Animals, and Tom Jones.