♫ I Can’t Help Myself ♫

This song was written by the successful Motown team of Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland and Eddie Holland, who wrote most of The Supremes hits. The melody of this song is very similar to Where Did Our Love Go, which Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote for The Supremes. According to Lamont Dozier, the title came about because he couldn’t help himself from working with the same tune.

The story behind the song …

“I stayed with my grandmother when I was a kid. She owned her own home beauty shop, and when the women would come up the walkway to get their hair done, my grandfather would be pedaling around in the garden. He was a bit of a flirt, and would say, ‘How you doin’, sugar pie? Good morning, honey bunch.’ He was one of those types of guys. My grandmother had a big bay window to the front of the house. She’d say, ‘Look at that old codger – he thinks I don’t see. I know what he’s doing.’ He was just flirting with his big smile. I’m sitting there on the porch watching this – I’m probably 11 or 12. I was like a sponge, soaking it up.

Years later, at Motown, I’m sitting at the piano. I’d take these mind trips back to my childhood, and I’m trying to see what this piano part is telling me. Sure enough, there my grandfather is, pedaling in the garden. That memory comes to my mind’s eye, and I know where the song is supposed to go. I hear him saying, ‘Good morning, sugar pie. How you doin’, honey bunch?’ That’s what started it.”

This was the first US #1 hit for The Four Tops, and it was a big one, topping the Hot 100 for two weeks and the R&B chart for an amazing nine. The group had paid their dues: they formed in 1953 and didn’t get a Motown deal until 10 years later. Their first Motown single, Baby I Need Your Loving,  did very well, but this one established them as one of the top acts in the company.

I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)
Four Tops

Sugar pie, honey bunch
You know that I love you
I can’t help myself
I love you and nobody else
In and out my life
You come and you go
Leaving just your picture behind
And I kissed it a thousand times
When you snap your finger or wink your eye
I come a-running to you
I’m tied to your apron strings
And there’s nothing that I can do
I can’t help myself
No, I can’t help myself
Sugar pie, honey bunch
I’m weaker than a man should be
I can’t help myself
I’m a fool in love, you see
Want to tell you I don’t love you
Tell you that we’re through
And I’ve tried
But ev’ry time I see your face
I get all choked up inside
When I call your name
Girl, it starts the flame
(Burning in my heart
Tearing it all apart)
No matter how I try
My love I cannot hide
‘Cause sugar pie, honey bunch
You know that I’m weak for you
I can’t help myself
I love you and nobody else
Sugar pie, honey bunch
Do anything you ask me to
I can’t help myself
I want you and nobody else
Sugar pie, honey bunch
You know that I love you
I can’t help myself
I love you and nobody else

Songwriters: Edward Jr. Holland / Lamont Dozier / Brian Holland
I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

10 thoughts on “♫ I Can’t Help Myself ♫

  1. Jill, the Dozier-Hollands trio were quite prolific songwriters, almost rivaling Tin Pan Alley by themselves. I love this song, one of many by The Four Tops. A favorite memory is the Motown 25th Anniversary show. While everyone remembers Michael Jackson moon-walking to Billie Jean, when The Four Tops and Temptations dueled with vignettes of their songs, it was quite memorable. This song is a good example of the Dozier-Hollands style – start out big with the rhythm. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Those little wings on my heels are flapping and lifting me off the ground. Though I love music across different times and different worlds I think the Four Tops may be my favourite group ever.with lead singer Levi Stubbs Jnr having one of the best soul voices I’ve ever heard. You couldn’t not believe whatever emotion he was singing about.This little jaunt with a Holland, Dozier, Holland hit just has to raise a smile.Thank you
    Cwtch

    Liked by 2 people

    • The vision of you levitating with wings on your heels makes me smile and makes me glad I decided on this song! Yes, I watched this clip a couple of times, especially focused on Levi Stubbs, for it is said that he didn’t like this song and didn’t want to do it, but nowhere did I see any sign of resentment in him … he seemed genuinely happy and in the moment. That’s a sign of a true entertainer. And I’m glad it made you smile 😊
      Cwtch

      Liked by 2 people

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