♫ Back In My Arms Again ♫

It’s been a while, I think, since I played any Supremes’ songs and tonight I was in the mood for their upbeat style, so I went in search of (and found) one that I haven’t played here before!

This was The Supremes’ fifth consecutive #1 hit in the US.  It was, as most of The Supremes’ music was, written by the songwriting team of Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland, known collectively as Holland-Dozier-Holland.  I did not know this, but The Supremes were the most commercially successful of Motown’s acts and the most successful American vocal group, with 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, all but one written by Holland-Dozier-Holland.

This was released in 1965 at a time when the friendship between the three — Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard — was becoming strained, as Mary and Florence became frustrated that Diana Ross was becoming the main focus of the group.  Perhaps as an appeasement, Mary and Florence’s names are mentioned in the third verse …

How can Mary tell me what to do
When she lost her love so true?
And Flo, she don’t know
‘Cause the boy she loves is a romeo

The song went to #1 in the U.S. and Canada, #40 in the UK.

Back in My Arms Again
The Supremes

All day long, I hear my telephone ring
Friends calling giving their advice
From the boy I love, I should break away
‘Cause heartaches, he’ll bring one day

I lost him once through friends’ advice
But it’s not gonna happen twice
‘Cause all advice ever gotten me
Was really long and sleepless nights
(Oooooh!)

But now, he’s back in my arms again
Right by my side
I got him back in my arms again
So satisfied
(Oooooh!)

It’s easy for friends to say let him go
But I’m the one who needs him so
It’s his love that makes me strong
Without him, I can’t go on

This time, I’ll live my life at ease
Being happy loving whom I please
And each time we make romance,
I’ll be thankful for a second chance
(Oooooh!)

‘Cause he’s back in my arms again
Right by my side
I got him back in my arms again
So satisfied
(Oooooh!)

How can Mary tell me what to do
When she lost her love so true?
And Flo, she don’t know
‘Cause the boy she loves is a Romeo

I listened once to my friends’ advice
But it’s not gonna happen twice
‘Cause all advice ever gotten me
Was really long and sleepless nights
(Oooooh!)

I got him back in my arms again
Right by my side
I got him back in my arms again
So satisfied
(Oooooh!)

I’m satisfied
So satisfied, I’m satisfied
I’m satisfied, so satisfied

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Edward Jr. Holland / Lamont Herbert Dozier / Brian Holland
Back in My Arms Again lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ I Heard It Through The Grapevine ♫

Marvin Gaye.  Motown.  Sigh … they just don’t make it like that anymore, my friends.  In some ways, this is a redux, for I did play it here three years ago, but I have added some trivia and two additional versions (Glady’s Knight and the Pips, and Smokey Robinson) to the post.

This song was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966.  Strong first came up with the idea and asked the famous Motown songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland to work on it with them, but the team refused to credit another writer (egos, egos everywhere), so Whitfield and Strong it was.

The first recording of the song to be released was produced by Whitfield for Gladys Knight & the Pips and released as a single in September 1967 when it went to number two in the Billboard chart.  Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were the first to record the song, but theirs wouldn’t be released until years later on an album called Special Occasion. The Isley Brothers then took a crack at it, but their version wasn’t released. Whitfield and Strong then had Marvin Gaye record the song but still no luck: Motown head Berry Gordy chose Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Your Unchanging Love over Grapevine as his next single. Finally, a new Motown act Gladys Knight and the Pips recorded the song as a gospel rocker. Their version was a hit, entering the Top 40 in November 1967 and going to #2 in the U.S.

The Marvin Gaye version was placed on his 1968 album In the Groove, where it gained the attention of radio disc jockeys, and Motown founder Berry Gordy finally agreed to its release as a single in October 1968, when it went to the top of the Billboard Pop Singles chart for seven weeks from December 1968 to January 1969 and became for a time the biggest hit single on the Motown label.

Mavin Gaye’s version is, and will likely always be, my favourite, but Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson certainly deserve honourable mention, so I have included them here.

I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Marvin Gaye

Ooh, I bet you’re wonderin’ how I knew
‘Bout your plans to make me blue
With some other guy you knew before
Between the two of us guys you know I love you more
It took me by surprise I must say
When I found out yesterday
Don’tcha know that I

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Oh I heard it through the grapevine
Oh I’m just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah
(Heard it through the grapevine)
(Not much longer would you be my baby, ooh, ooh, ooh)

I know a man ain’t supposed to cry
But these tears I can’t hold inside
Losin’ you would end my life you see
‘Cause you mean that much to me
You could have told me yourself
That you love someone else
Instead I

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Oh I heard it through the grapevine
And I’m just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah
(Heard it through the grapevine)
(Not much longer would you be my baby, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh)

People say believe half of what you see, son
And none of what you hear
But I can’t help bein’ confused
If it’s true please tell me dear
Do you plan to let me go
For the other guy you loved before?
Don’tcha know I

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Baby I heard it through the grapevine
Ooh I’m just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah
(Heard it through the grapevine)
(Not much longer would you be my baby, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)

Honey, honey, I know
That you’re lettin’ me go
Said, I heard it through the grapevine
Heard it through the grapevine

Songwriters: Barrett Strong / Norman Whitfield
I Heard It Through the Grapevine (American Tour Live) lyrics © Stone Agate Music, Emi Music Publishing France, Jobete Music Co Inc, Stone Agate Music Corp

♫ I Hear A Symphony ♫

I seem to be in Motown mode at the moment, don’t I?  This one came to me tonight when I kept hearing music that wasn’t there.  It’s funny that I cannot hear what is there, and do hear that which isn’t.  At any rate …

This is yet another written by the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, who wrote five consecutive #1 hits for The Supremes, starting with Where Did Our Love Go.  Says Lamont Dozier …

“I used to go to the movies and I would see that the main stars had their own theme songs. When they appeared on the screen, you would hear this melody behind them – they had their own little melody each time they appeared in the movie. So the lyrics, ‘Whenever you are near, I hear a symphony,’ it was about this guy. Whenever he came around, in her mind she got this feeling and she heard this melody. He brought out the music in her.”  

You won’t hear a full symphony orchestra in this song, but there is a prominent string section, arranged by Paul Riser, that implies it. Otherwise, the instrumentation is more typical, with a saxophone section and piano (played by Funk Brother Earl Van Dyke). The song evokes classical music in its structure though, building throughout to a kind of crescendo.

Now this I didn’t know … Brian Holland had an affair with Diana Ross in the early ’60s.  In the book The Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success and Betrayal, he revealed that the song never got to him until the ’80s, when he was driving one day and the song came on the radio … 

“I hadn’t had any emotional reaction to it before that. It took 25 years for it to sink in how good that song is. Things were happening in our lives by then, Eddie’s and mine, that began to creep into the songs. Those songs were supposed to be about simple things. And at the beginning, they were. It was ‘baby this, baby that.’ But when I hear something like ‘Symphony,’ man, there ain’t nothing simple about it.”

This song peaked at #1 in the U.S., #17 in Canada, and #39 in the UK.

I Hear A Symphony
The Supremes

You’ve given me a true love
And every day I thank you, love
For a feeling that’s so new
So inviting, so exciting

Whenever you’re near, I hear a symphony
A tender melody
Pulling me closer, closer to your arms
Then suddenly (I hear a symphony)
Ooh, your lips are touching mine
A feeling so divine
Till I leave the past behind
I’m lost in a world
Made for you and me

Whenever you’re near, I hear a symphony
Play sweet and tenderly
Every time your lips meet mine, now, baby, baby, baby
You bring much joy within
Don’t let this feeling end
Let it go on and on and on, now, baby, baby, baby
Those tears that fill my eyes
I cry not for myself
But for those who’ve never felt the joy we felt (baby)

Whenever you’re near, I hear a symphony
Each time you speak to me
I hear a tender rhapsody of love now, baby, baby
As you stand holding me
Whispering how much you care
A thousand violins fill the air, now, baby, baby
Don’t let this moment end
Keep standing close to me
Ooh, so close to me, baby, baby, baby, baby
I hear a symphony
A tender melody

Writer/s: JR., BRIAN HOLLAND, EDWARD HOLLAND, EDWARD JR. HOLLAND, LAMONT DOZIER, LAMONT HERBERT DOZIER
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

♫ How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) ♫

I read a mention of Marvin Gaye this evening, and that’s about all it takes to get one or another of Marvin’s fantastic tunes rattling around in my head.  This isn’t actually the one that was rattling around in my head … that was I Heard it Through the Grapevine, but since I’ve already played that one twice here, and once already this year, I searched my brain, such as it is, for another and came up with this one.

As is the case with so many great Motown tunes, this one was written by the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.  It was inspired by the trademark line of Jackie Gleason, “How sweet it is!” as it was said on The Jackie Gleason Show. Gleason was one of the biggest TV stars of the time.

Lamont Dozier said the lyric was “wishful thinking.” He was …

“… sitting at the piano, fantasizing about how good it would be if the woman I had eyes for was madly in love with me. But the truth is she never gave me a second look. So I created this fantasy world where I was the object of all her affections, a bit of fiction that eventually came true due to my persistence and showering her with affection.”

This was the second of Gaye’s 13 Top-10 hits. His first was 1963’s Pride and Joy, which peaked at #10.  How Sweet It Is reached #6 in the U.S., but only #49 in the UK, and did not chart in Canada.

Eddie Holland came up with the title and hook for this song. The rest of it took a while to put together, and by the time Gaye recorded it, he had to read from lyric sheets because he had not had time to memorize them.  In 2001, ESPN took some heat in the press when they used this song as background music in a Father’s Day tribute featuring athletes and their fathers or kids. Gaye had been shot by his father in 1984.

James Taylor released his version of How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) as the lead single from his album Gorilla (1975). Taylor’s 1975 single has been the most successful remake of the song to date, hitting number one on the Easy Listening chart and number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.  Now, while I am a huge fan of James Taylor, sorry but this song belongs to Marvin Gaye in my book.

How Sweet It Is
Marvin Gaye

How sweet it is to be loved by you
How sweet it is to be loved by you

I needed the shelter of someone’s arms
There you were
I needed someone to understand my ups and downs
There you were
With sweet love and devotion
Deeply touching my emotion
I want to stop and thank you, baby
I wanna stop and thank you, baby
Yes, I do

How sweet it is to be loved by you
Feels so fine
How sweet it is to be loved by you

I close my eyes at night
Wondering where would I be without you in my life
Everything I did was just a bore
Everywhere I went, seems I’d been there before
But you brighten up for me all of my days
With a love so sweet, so many ways
I wanna stop, thank you, baby
I just wanna stop and thank you, baby
Whoa, yes

How sweet it is to be loved by you
It’s just like sugar sometimes
How sweet it is to be loved by you
Whoa, yeah

You were better to me than I was to myself
For me, there’s you and there ain’t nobody else
I wanna stop and thank you, baby
I just wanna stop and thank you, baby
Oh yes

How sweet it is to be loved by you
How sweet it is to be loved by you
Oh now, how sweet it is to be loved by you
It’s like jelly baby
Oh, yeah
How sweet it is to be loved by you
Just like honey to the bees, baby
Yeah, now

How sweet it is to be loved by you
How sweet it is to be loved by you

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Joey Cooper / Harry Tobias

♫ Baby Love ♫

I’m taking you back more than half a century tonight, to 1964 when The Supremes recorded Baby Love and hit #1 on both the U.S. and UK charts.  The Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote this, and according to Lamont Dozier …

“I would collaborate with Eddie on lyrics and with Brian on melodies. Then Brian and I would go into the studio and produce the actual record although Eddie should have been put down as one of the producers because he helped teach the artists the tune when the lyric was finished.”

This was the follow-up to Where Did Our Love Go, The Supremes breakout hit and first #1 in America. That song mentions the word “baby” 68 times, so its fitting that their next single had that word in the title.  Baby Love was released on September 17, 1964, while “Where Did Our Love Go” was still on the charts.

The Supremes became the first Motown act to have more than one American number-one single, and by the end of the decade, would have more number-one singles than any other Motown act (or American pop music group) with 12, a record they continue to hold.

Motown gave this song a big push in the UK, where The Supremes were sent to tour starting on October 7, 1964. On October 15, they performed the song on the popular program Top Of The Pops, and near the end of the tour made an appearance with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. On November 25, the song hit #1 on the UK chart, making The Supremes the first Motown group and the first girl group to reach #1 in that territory. It was their only UK #1, as the rest of their career was focused on America. Then second Motown act to hit #1 in the UK was The Four Tops with Reach Out I’ll Be There in 1966.

Baby Love
The Supremes

Baby love, my baby love
I need you, oh how I need you!
But all you do is treat me bad
Break my heart and leave me sad
Tell me, what did I do wrong?
To make you stay away so long

‘Cause baby love, my baby love
Been missing ya, miss kissing ya
Instead of breaking up
Let’s do some kissing and making up
Don’t throw our love away
In my arms why don’t you stay?
Need ya, need ya, baby love, baby love

Baby love, my baby love
Why must we separate, my love?
All of my whole life through
I never loved no one but you
Why you do me like you do?
I get this need

Need to hold you, once again, my love
Feel your warm embrace, my love
Don’t throw our love away
Please don’t do me this way
Not happy like I used to be
Loneliness has got the best of me

My love, my baby love
I need you, oh how I need you!
Why you do me like you do?
After I’ve been true to you
So deep in love with you

Baby, baby, ’til it’s hurtin’ me
‘Til it’s hurtin’ me, baby love
Don’t throw our love away
Don’t throw our love away

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Lamont Dozier / Brian Holland / Eddie Holland

♫ Ain’t Too Proud To Beg ♫

Sometimes there is just nothing that will do but the Motown Sound.

This was written by Motown writers Norman Whitfield and Eddie Holland. Holland, who was part of the Holland/Dozier/Holland writing team, wrote the lyrics.  Smokey Robinson was The Temptations’ main writer at the time. Motown decided to release his Get Ready instead of this song, which drove Whitfield nuts. After Get Ready didn’t meet expectations, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg was released as The Temptations next single. From there, Whitfield became the regular producer of the Temptations.

Whitfield went on to write other Motown classics, including Heard It Through The Grapevine and (I Know) I’m Losing You. He became the chief songwriter for The Temptations.

Whitfield also produced this song. He had Temptations singer David Ruffin sing slightly higher than his normal range, resulting in the pained vocal that went with the lyrics. Whitfield had Marvin Gaye do the same thing on Heard It Through The Grapevine.  This was a hit for The Rolling Stones when they covered it in 1974, taking it to #17 in America. Other notable covers of this song include Phil Collins.  Who knew?  🤷‍♀️  I love Phil Collins, but this song, in my book, belongs to The Temptations.

Ain’t Too Proud to Beg
The Temptations

I know you wanna leave me,
But I refuse to let you go,
If I have to beg, plead for your sympathy,
I don’t mind ’cause you mean that much to me.

Ain’t too proud to beg and you know it,
Please don’t leave me girl,
Don’t you go,
Ain’t too proud to plead, baby, baby,
Please don’t leave me, girl,
Don’t you go.

Now I’ve heard a cryin’ man
Is half a man with no sense of pride,
But if I have to cry to keep you,
I don’t mind weepin’ if it’ll keep you by my side.

Ain’t too proud to beg and you know it,
Please don’t leave me girl,
Don’t you go,
Ain’t too proud to plead, baby, baby,
Please don’t leave me, girl,
Don’t you go.

If I have to sleep on your doorstep all night and day
Just to keep you from walking away,
Let your friends laugh, even this I can stand,
’cause I wanna keep you any way I can.

Ain’t too proud to beg and you know it,
Please don’t leave me girl,
Don’t you go,
Ain’t too proud to plead, baby, baby,
Please don’t leave me, girl,
Don’t you go.

Now I’ve got a love so deep in the pit of my heart,
And each day it grows more and more,
I’m not ashamed to call and plead to you, baby,
If pleading keeps you from walking out that door.

Ain’t too proud to beg and you know it,
Please don’t leave me girl,
Don’t you go,
Ain’t too proud to plead, baby, baby,
Please don’t leave me, girl,
Don’t you go.

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Norman Whitfield / Edward Jr. Holland
Ain’t Too Proud to Beg lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ I Heard It Through The Grapevine ♫

Marvin Gaye.  Motown.  Sigh … they just don’t make it like that anymore, my friends.

This song was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966.  Strong first came up with the idea and asked the famous Motown songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland to work on it with them, but the team refused to credit another writer, so Whitfield and Strong it was.

The first recording of the song to be released was produced by Whitfield for Gladys Knight & the Pips and released as a single in September 1967 when it went to number two in the Billboard chart.  Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were the first to record the song, but theirs wouldn’t be released for

The Marvin Gaye version was placed on his 1968 album In the Groove, where it gained the attention of radio disc jockeys, and Motown founder Berry Gordy finally agreed to its release as a single in October 1968, when it went to the top of the Billboard Pop Singles chart for seven weeks from December 1968 to January 1969 and became for a time the biggest hit single on the Motown label.

I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Marvin Gaye

Ooh, I bet you’re wonderin’ how I knew
‘Bout your plans to make me blue
With some other guy you knew before
Between the two of us guys you know I love you more
It took me by surprise I must say
When I found out yesterday
Don’tcha know that I

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Oh I heard it through the grapevine
Oh I’m just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah
(Heard it through the grapevine)
(Not much longer would you be my baby, ooh, ooh, ooh)

I know a man ain’t supposed to cry
But these tears I can’t hold inside
Losin’ you would end my life you see
‘Cause you mean that much to me
You could have told me yourself
That you love someone else
Instead I

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Oh I heard it through the grapevine
And I’m just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah
(Heard it through the grapevine)
(Not much longer would you be my baby, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh)

People say believe half of what you see, son
And none of what you hear
But I can’t help bein’ confused
If it’s true please tell me dear
Do you plan to let me go
For the other guy you loved before?
Don’tcha know I

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Baby I heard it through the grapevine
Ooh I’m just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah
(Heard it through the grapevine)
(Not much longer would you be my baby, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)

Honey, honey, I know
That you’re lettin’ me go
Said, I heard it through the grapevine
Heard it through the grapevine

Songwriters: Barrett Strong / Norman Whitfield
I Heard It Through the Grapevine (American Tour Live) lyrics © Stone Agate Music, Emi Music Publishing France, Jobete Music Co Inc, Stone Agate Music Corp