♫ What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted

Hey!!!  Guess what???  I found one of my favourite Motown songs that I haven’t played here before!  It’s nothing short of a miracle!  No, it’s not by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.  I have no idea why, but I somehow thought I remembered this one as being by the Four Tops!  Not even close, as it happens.

This was written by Motown writers Jimmy Dean, Paul Riser, and William Witherspoon. They wrote it for The Detroit Spinners, but Jimmy Ruffin, brother of The Temptations’ David Ruffin, convinced the Motown writers to let him try it, and they liked what they heard.

Many Motown songs deal with heartbreak, but this one is especially bleak. The poor guy has recently joined the ranks of the brokenhearted, and he’s not sure what happens next. He knows he can’t take the pain much longer but keeps coming up empty in his search.

Originally, this contained a spoken intro:

A world filled with love is a wonderful sight

Being in love is one’s heart’s delight

But that look of love isn’t on my face

That enchanted feeling has been replaced

It was cut out before the song was released, but the version with the intro did appear on a British compilation which also included Ruffin’s version of the song in Italian (“Se Decidi Cosi”).

Smokey Robinson produced this track. He worked on many Motown classics as an artist, writer and producer.  Other Motown acts to record this song include Diana Ross and The Supremes, who did a cover of this for their album Let the Sunshine In, and The Contours, who did it at a faster tempo. Both of these versions contains the spoken intro.

In the UK, this charted at #10 when it was first released in 1966 but reached #4 when it was re-released in 1974.  In the U.S., it made it to #7.

Dave Stewart (not the one from Eurythmics) released a keyboard-driven version of this song in 1980 with Colin Blunstone of The Zombies on vocals. This rendition, which had Amanda Parsons and Jakko on backing vocals, hit #13 in the UK.  The British duo Robson & Jerome took this song to #1 in the UK when they released it as a single along with covers of Saturday Night At The Movies and You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Vonda Shepard recorded this for an episode of the TV series Ally McBeal. Paul Young recorded this for the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes. His version went to #1 on the US Adult Contemporary charts and made #22 on the Hot 100 (the only version besides Ruffin’s to make this chart).

The theme song from the 1992 Whitney Houston film The Bodyguard was Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You, but according to her leading man Kevin Costner speaking at her funeral in February 2012, the first choice was this song, which ended up being used in Fried Green Tomatoes (the Paul Young version).

What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

Jimmy Ruffin

As I walk this land with broken dreams
I have visions of many things
But happiness is just an illusion
Filled with sadness and confusion
What becomes of the broken-hearted
Who had love that’s now departed?
I know I’ve got to find
Some kind of peace of mind

The roots of love grow all around
But for me they come a-tumblin’ down
Every day heartaches grow a little stronger
I can’t stand this pain much longer
I walk in shadow searching for light
Cold and alone, no comfort in sight
Hoping and praying for someone to care
Always moving and goin’ nowhere
What becomes of the broken-hearted
Who had love that’s now departed?
I know I’ve got to find
Some kind of peace of mind
Help me

I’m searching, though I don’t succeed
But someone look, there’s a growing need
Oh, he is lost, there’s no place for beginning
All that’s left is an unhappy ending
Now, becomes of the broken-hearted
Who had love that’s now departed?
I know I’ve got to find
Some kind of peace of mind

I’ll be searching everywhere
Just to find someone to care
I’ll be looking everyday, I know I’m gonna find a way
Nothing’s gonna stop me now
I’ll find a way somehow
And I’ll be searching everywhere
I know I gotta find a way
I’ll be looking

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: James Anthony Dean / Paul Riser / William Henry Witherspoonn

What Becomes of the Brokenhearted lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

24 thoughts on “♫ What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted

  1. Absolutely love this one, always have done. We had a series of compilation albums here called ‘Motown Chartbusters.’ This was on Volume 1, which my Mum bought, supposedly for us kids, but I often caught her singing along with several of the tracks, including this one. Paul Young’s cover is pleasant, because he has such a great voice, but Robson and Jerome? That’s what you get with actors cashing in on a hit tv series. They could sing, but took the heart out of everything they did.

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    • Once again you have surprised me, for I didn’t think you would like this one! I hadn’t … and still haven’t … heard either Paul Young’s or Robson and Jerome’s versions, but I think I’ll take your word for it that they were inferior to this original. I wonder if you’ll like today’s pick? I’m guessing not, but we’ll see …

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      • Paul Young’s is pleasant enough, but doesn’t really add anything to the song, and it was from the days when synthesisers were apparently compulsory. Don’t go near Robson and Jerome – for anything! The original of this is still by far the best version for me.

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  2. I did not realize this had been covered so many times. An excellent “sad song.” Something everyone can empathize with sometime in their life, or they aren’t really living.

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    • Apparently I’m not really living then. Although I would dispute that. The reason I find little attraction to songs such as this is it has never happened to me. I’m aromantic by nature and until I met the woman who became my wife 50 years ago, I had assumed that I would be single my whole life. If it wasn’t for her determination, I would probably still be that way.

      I’m not convinced that it’s necessary to experience heartbreak to appreciate the wonders and beauty of life. Bad things happen. That’s life. I don’t dwell on the negative. I look for how to make it better. Perhaps I view the world through rose tinted lenses, but it’s the only way I know how.

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      • 50 years!!! Wow … that is amazing, Barry! Marriage takes so much … love, of course, but also patience, a willingness to compromise, and more. My own lasted only 15 years and I’ve never been inclined to try it again. Congratulations to you and your wife!!!


  3. Jill, this song has a powerful, plaintiff message sung by a powerful voice. I love the rhyming of “broken-hearted” and “now departed.” Keith

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