This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #433: My Girl by The Temptations.
The Temptations were a product of the Motown Hit Factory during the 1960s and 70s. They were a group of five singers who combined their songs with intricate, pleasing choreographed dance moves that helped characterize a style that simply became known as “Motown”. The Temptations had many hit songs including, “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, “Aint Too Proud to Beg”, “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) and, of course, “My Girl”. The Temptations have been inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and three of their songs (“Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, “Aint Too Proud to Beg” and “My Girl”) have all been inducted in the “Song Category” for their significant cultural impact.
While there were many line-up changes over the course of their career as a group, the most famous cast of five singers were David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin and Paul Williams. The song, “My Girl” was written by Smokey Robinson specifically for David Ruffin to sing. During a Motown Tour, Robinson had come to develop an appreciation for Ruffin’s voice and believed that he should play a more central role in the group, beyond simply providing harmonies. So, he wrote, “My Girl” about his own wife and how he felt about having her in his life and then, Robinson presented the finished song to Ruffin. Initially, the other members of The Temptations were reluctant to hand the lead vocal duties over to Ruffin (who had never sang lead before) but, once they tried it out, it was obvious to all that they had a winning combination on their hands. Thus, the song was recorded and released with David Ruffin on lead vocals and the rest, as they say, is history. “My Girl” became a #1 hit for the group and remains their signature song all these years later.
The Supremes were also members of the Motown family. As you may know, in the beginning of their career as a trio, The Supremes recorded under their group name. But, as time went on and hit songs started to accumulate, the decision was made to focus on Diana Ross so, the group name changed from “The Supremes” to “Diana Ross and the Supremes”. While this was going on, The Temptations were enjoying much success; especially after releasing, “My Girl”. Unfortunately, the collaborative dynamic of a music group is a difficult thing to maintain over time. For The Temptations, it proved too difficult. David Ruffin developed an addiction to cocaine and began demanding similar treatment to what Diana Ross was receiving. Including a demand that the group change their name to “David Ruffin and the Temptations”. Not long thereafter, Ruffin was fired from the group. Although he continued to sing for many more years, he never again reached the dizzying heights of success that he had experienced with The Temptations. For their part, The Temptations carried on without Ruffin and have made a career out of performing the hits from their song catalogue.
In our house, the song “My Girl” is one that is sung passionately by our resident songbird, Keri; especially, on cloudy days such as the one we are experiencing today. It is a joyous, positive, uplifting song that expresses gratitude for the beauty that Love brings into one’s life. If you are fortunate enough to love and/or to be loved, then this song is for you. Here is “My Girl” by The Temptations. Enjoy.
The link to the music video for My Girl by The Temptations can be found here.
A link to The Temptations’ website can be found here.
Thanks to KEXP for helping to inspire the writing of this post. A link to their website can be found here.