How Can You Mend a Broken Heart 1971

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Released 28 May 1971
Format 7″, 45 rpm
Recorded 28 January 1971
IBC Studios, London
Genre Soft rock
Length 3:57
Label Polydor
Atco (United States, Canada)

Writer(s) Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb
Producer(s) Robert Stigwood, Bee Gees

“How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” is a song released by the Bee Gees in 1971. It was written mainly by Barry and Robin Gibb. It was the lead and first single on the group’s 1971 album Trafalgar. The B-side, a Maurice Gibb composition “Country Woman”. It was their first US No. 1 single. The song also reached #1 in Cashbox magazine for two weeks. The song is also in the 2013 film American Hustle and on its soundtrack.

In the US Atco Records issued both mono and stereo versions of the song on each side as a promo single.

Barry and Robin Gibb wrote the song in August 1970 with “Lonely Days” when the Gibb brothers had reconvened following a period of break-up and alienation. “Robin came to my place” says Barry, “and that afternoon we wrote ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ and that obviously was a link to us coming back together. We called Maurice, finished the song, went to the studio and once again, with only ‘Broken Heart’ as a basic structure, we went in to the studio with that and an idea for ‘Lonely Days’, and those two songs were recorded that night”. They originally offered the song to Andy Williams, but ended up recording it themselves. Barry also explains, “We might imitate a certain group, later on, the group will pick up on the song and say that suits us.” Maurice Gibb possibly had a hand in the writing of “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” although the song is officially credited to Barry and Robin Gibb. The 2009 release Ultimate Bee Gees officially credited Maurice for the first time as co-writer of the song, for both the “Ultimate” CD and DVD, and it was credited to the moniker Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb.

The song was recorded on 28 January 1971 in London same day as “We Lost the Road”, “When Do I”, “If I Were the Sky”, “Bring Out the Thoughts in Me” and “Ellan Vannin”. The group’s later song “My World” followed along the same musical ideas on this song. Robin Gibb’s remarked on the song, “The whole thing took about an hour to complete. The song reached the number one spot, to our great satisfaction.”

Although failing to chart on the UK Singles Chart, the song became the Bee Gees’ first US number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and also reached number four on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Billboard ranked this as the No. 5 song for 1971. In Spain, this single was released under the title “Cómo Puedes Arreglar Un Corazón Destrozada”. The song was performed for the first time in 1971. That performance is notable for drummer Geoff Bridgford’s first appearance with the band.

Following the release of “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”, the song had a Grammy nomination for Best Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus among George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” and others. The song was performed as part of a medley in The Midnight Special in 1975. They performed the song in Japan on the Japanese TV special Love Sounds as well as the Mr. Natural tour in 1974. A live version recorded live in 17–18 Nov 1989 at the National Tennis Centre, Melbourne, Australia was used for the benefit album Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal. In 1997-1999, it was performed on the One Night Only tour in its entirety as part of a medley. The song was last performed by the Bee Gees in 2001.


Barry Gibb – lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitar
Robin Gibb – lead and harmony vocals
Maurice Gibb – harmony vocals, bass guitar, piano, acoustic guitar, organ
Geoff Bridgeford – drums
Bill Shepherd – orchestral and strings arrangement