My Girl (The Temptations song)
|Single by The Temptations|
|from the album The Temptations Sing Smokey|
|B-side||"(Talking 'Bout) Nobody But My Baby"|
|Released||December 21, 1964|
|Recorded||Hitsville USA (Studio A); September 25, November 10 and November 17, 1964|
|The Temptations singles chronology|
"My Girl" cover
|Song by Otis Redding from the album Otis Blue|
|Recorded||Stax Studios, Memphis, Tennessee: 1965|
|Otis Blue track listing|
"My Girl" is a 1964 song recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy (Motown) label which became a number one hit in 1965. Written and produced by The Miracles members Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, the song became the Temptations' first U.S. number-one single, and is today their signature song. Robinson's inspiration for writing this song was his wife, Miracles member Claudette Rogers Robinson. The song was featured on the Temptations album The Temptations Sing Smokey.
Musically, the song is notable because the six ascending guitar notes in the opening riff over the C chord are a perfect example of a C major pentatonic scale, played exactly from octave to octave. Similarly, the analogous riff in the song that is played over the F chord is a perfect example of an F major pentatonic scale, also with notes ascending from octave to octave.
Recording and release
The recorded version of "My Girl" was the first Temptations single to feature David Ruffin on lead vocals. Previously, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams had performed most of the group's lead vocals, and Ruffin had joined the group as a replacement for former Temptation Elbridge "Al" Bryant. While on tour as part of the Motortown Revue, a collective tour for most of the Motown roster, Smokey Robinson caught the Temptations' part of the show. The group had included a medley of soul standards in the show, one of which, The Drifters' "Under the Boardwalk", was a solo spot for Ruffin. Impressed, Robinson decided to produce a single with Ruffin singing lead. Robinson saw Ruffin as a "sleeping giant" in the group with a unique voice that was "mellow" yet "gruff". Robinson thought that if he could write just the perfect song for Ruffin's voice, then he could have a smash hit. The song was to be something that Ruffin could "belt out" yet something that was also "melodic and sweet". After some persuasion from Ruffin's bandmates, Robinson had the Temptations record "My Girl" instead of The Miracles, who were originally to record the song, and recruited Ruffin to sing the lead vocals. According to Robinson, he allowed the group to create their own background vocals "because they were so great at background vocals". The signature guitar riff heard during the introduction and under the verses was played by Robert White of the Funk Brothers. This part can be heard without vocals on the 2004 Deluxe Edition of the soundtrack from the 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown.
"My Girl" was later sampled for "Stay", a single from the Temptations' 1998 album Phoenix Rising.
"My Girl" climbed to the top of the U.S. pop charts after its Christmas time 1964 release, making it the Temptations' first number-one hit. The single was also the first number-one hit on the reinstated Billboard R&B Singles chart, which had gone on a fifteen-month hiatus from 1963 to 1965. The success of this single launched a series of Ruffin-led hits, including "It's Growing" (1965), "Since I Lost My Baby" (1965), "My Baby" (1965), "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (1966), "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" (1966), "(I Know) I'm Losing You" (1966), "All I Need" (1967), "(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It's You That I Need" (1967), "I Wish It Would Rain" (1967), and "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" (1968). The former background figure quickly became the group's main (and, excepting irregular leads by Kendricks and Williams, only) lead singer by the end of 1965. After many Ruffin-led hits, he started to develop a large ego. He was later fired from the group (see the Temptations main article for more details).
- David Ruffin – lead vocal
- Eddie Kendricks – backing vocal
- Melvin Franklin – backing vocal
- Paul Williams – backing vocal
- Otis Williams – backing vocal
- William "Smokey" Robinson – writer/producer
- Ronald White – writer/producer
- Paul Riser – arrangement
- The Funk Brothers – instrumentation:
- Robert White: Guitar
- James Jamerson: Bass
- Benny Benjamin: Drums
- Detroit Symphony Orchestra – strings
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||1|
|U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Singles||1|
In 1965, Otis Redding brought more of a traditional blues flavor to the song in his cover of "My Girl". This version, produced by Steve Cropper, was featured on Redding's critically acclaimed album Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, and was also on John Lennon's jukebox. Redding's version wasn't released as a single in the United States, but Atlantic UK released it in England to capitalize on the relative lack of success by the Temptations' original version, and Redding's cover eventually peaked at No. 11.
Stevie Wonder's 1967 album "I Was Made to Love Her" features his cover version as the closing track of the "A" side. A cover version was included on The Rolling Stones' Flowers in 1967. It was recorded two years earlier. The Mamas & the Papas featured this song on the third album Deliver (1967), and released it as a single that reached 15 on the U.S. pop charts. The same year The Temptations themselves recorded an Italian language version, entitled Solamente lei (Just her) (which would be featured in an episode of Detroit 1-8-7). Al Green included a cover version on his 1969 album Green Is Blues. Smokey Robinson himself also covered the song in 1969 for the album Time Out for Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. Eddie Floyd's version was released as a single in 1970. Michael Jackson covered the song for his album Ben. It has also been a hit for Jamaican ska rocksteady legend, Prince Buster. In 1977, Dolly Parton included a country version of the song on her album New Harvest - First Gathering (retitled to the gender-neutral "My Love"). In 1980, Amii Stewart and Johnny Bristol recorded it as a duet in a medley with another Motown classic, "My Guy". In 1988, Suave had a Top 40 Pop hit & Top 10 R&B hit with the song. Phil Collins covered the song on several of his live performances. Michael Bolton covered the song on his 1999 album Timeless: The Classics Vol. 2. British singer Declan Galbraith also covered this song.
La Toya Jackson covered the song as "My Guy" on her 1995 Motown cover album, Stop! In the Name of Love!. This version is commonly mistaken as a cover of the song "My Guy" but it is in fact "My Girl" with some of the lyrics altered. In 2000, the song was recorded by Westlife on their Coast to Coast. In 2005 and 2008 it was covered by Sam Milby from the theme song of the TV series, My Girl (Korean Version) and My Girl (Philippine Version) on ABS-CBN. It was also covered by The Jesus and Mary Chain as well as The Kwartet in 2011.
Raheem DeVaughn samples this song in "Friday(Shut The Club Down)" on his 2008 album "Love Behind The Melody" and was produced by Kwame.
Appearances in popular media
- Blair, Elizabeth. "My Girl". NPR. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 803.
- "The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-03-07.