♫ I Can’t Help Myself ♫ (Redux)

I seem to be ‘redux-ing’ a lot these days, don’t I?  Funny how an assassination, a near war, a lethal plane crash, Christmas & New Year all hitting within a week can leave you so far underwater that you cannot even see the surface.  At least it’s been well over a year since I played this one, and you’ve gotta admit this is a great one, so perhaps you can forgive me just this once?

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

13 thoughts on “♫ I Can’t Help Myself ♫ (Redux)

  1. I always though the Four Tops had it in them to be the best Motown Group ever but I think everyone was divided and had their own choice, I’m not sure anyone else got a look in when the Jackson Five appeared but for me it was always the Four Tops with the fantastic voice of Levi Stubbs Jnr, The man had enough demons to populate Hell but he could sure sing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill, I have been humming this song for the last few hours. I did not know it had a flirty old man origination. I simply thought it was based on pet names between couples. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When you think of how many songs have been recorded since the beginning of the rock era, you might think there are enough songs to play a different tune every day for decades. But some songs need to be played more than once and discarded.
    This is one of them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Certainly I could play a different song each day for the rest of my life, but I try to choose ones that I really like, or that have a certain meaning at a given time. But now, I’m confused about your reaction to this song … are you saying it should be played a lot, or discarded?


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