Thursday Inspiration #112 Where Did Our Love Go

Respond to this challenge, by either by using the prompt word baby, or going with the above picture, or by means of the song ‘Where Did Our Love Go’, or by going with another song by The Supremes or any other Motown song, or anything else that you think fits.  The Motown songwriting team of Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland wrote and produced this song, which they initially offered to another Motown group, The Marvelettes, who turned it down.  Holland-Dozier-Holland had Marvelettes lead singer Gladys Horton in mind, but she sang in a lower key than The Supremes lead singer, Diana Ross.  This 1964 #1 hit was a song written for one group that passed on it, and then recorded by another that didn’t want to record it, and felt it was in the wrong key, but Berry Gordy founder of the Motown record label insisted that the Supremes record it.  It became the first in a string of five consecutive Number Ones and one of 12 #1s for the Supremes and the song that made them stars overnight.

Lamont Dozier was surprised when Gladys Horton the Marvelettes’s lead singer didn’t want the song and said, “Oh, honey, we don’t do stuff like that.  And it’s the worst thing I ever heard.”  At that time, at Motown, there was a policy that said the songwriters had to pay for the tracks that got cut if it didn’t get recorded by one of their artists.  Lamont figured that he was in deep trouble if he couldn’t get someone to record the song because he didn’t want to pay for the track.  It never entered his mind that the Marvelettes wouldn’t like the song.  He went through the Motown artist roster where he found the Supremes at the bottom of the list, because they hadn’t had any significant recordings yet.  After eight singles flopped for Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, they were known around Motown as the No-Hit Supremes, although they did have a Top 20 the previous year with ‘When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes’.

Holland, Dozier and Holland already had Top 40 hits with Martha & the Vandellas and they told the Supremes that this song was tailor made for them, knowing that they had nothing going on at the time and needed a song.  Unfortunately, Gladys Horton of the Marvelettes already told them that Lamont was looking for someone to record it.  The song’s initial distaste by the Supremes stemmed from their desire to have a more upbeat single, similar to the Marvelettes’ ‘Please Mr. Postman’.  It turned out that Diana Ross’s bad attitude about this song and the low key that she was forced to sing in because it was written for Gladys Horton’s key, were exactly what the song needed!  This recording gave Diana a distinctive and mature tone which set her apart from other female singers of the era.  Lamont worked out intricate background vocals but the girls refused to learn them, so he finally said, “Just sing Baby, baby, baby”, which worked perfectly.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song #475 of its 500 greatest songs of all time, and the single was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its “cultural, historic, or artistic significance” of having peaked just weeks after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This song featured the range and diversity of American recorded sound heritage, so the institution wanted it “in order to increase preservation awareness”.  Lead vocals were sung by Diana Ross with background vocals sung by both Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson.  All instruments were played by The Funk Brothers with James Jamerson on Bass, Richard “Pistol” Allen playing Drums, Guitar by Eddie Willis, and Robert White, Piano by Earl Van Dyke, Baritone saxophone solo by Andrew “Mike” Terry, Vibraphone by Jack Ashford and Percussion (foot stomping) by Mike Valvano.

You came into my heart (baby, baby) so tenderly
With a burning love (baby, baby)

17 thoughts on “Thursday Inspiration #112 Where Did Our Love Go

  1. That was a sad/bad decision by The Marvelettes. This would have made them more famous and they may have had the Supremes career…we will never know for sure.

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