What Becomes of the Brokenhearted
|"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"|
|Single by Jimmy Ruffin|
|from the album Jimmy Ruffin Sings Top Ten|
|Released||June 3, 1966|
|Recorded||Hitsville USA (Studio A); 1966|
William "Mickey" Stevenson
|Jimmy Ruffin singles chronology|
"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" is a hit single recorded by Jimmy Ruffin and released on Motown Records' Soul label in the summer of 1966. It is a ballad, with lead singer Jimmy Ruffin recalling the pain that befalls the brokenhearted, who had love that's now departed. The song essentially deals with the struggle to overcome sadness while seeking a new relationship after the passing of a loved one.
The tune was written by William Weatherspoon, Paul Riser, and James Dean, and the recording was produced by Weatherspoon and William "Mickey" Stevenson. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" was Jimmy Ruffin's only Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and remains one of the most-revived of Motown's hits.
Composers Weatherspoon and Riser and lyricist Dean had originally written "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" with the intention of having The Spinners, then an act on Motown's V.I.P. label, record the tune. Jimmy Ruffin, older brother of Temptations lead singer David Ruffin, persuaded Dean to let him record the song, as its anguished lyric about a man lost in the misery of heartbreak resonated with the singer.
Ruffin's lead vocal on the recording is augmented by the instrumentation of Motown's on-house studio band, The Funk Brothers, and the joint backing vocals of Motown session singers The Originals and The Andantes. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, and at number six on the Billboard R&B Singles chart.
The song originally featured a spoken introduction by Ruffin, similar in style to many Lou Rawls's performances of the same time. The spoken verse was removed from the final mix, hence the unusually long instrumental intro on the released version. The spoken verse is present on the alternate mix from the UK 2003 release "Jimmy Ruffin - The Ultimate Motown Collection" and as a new stereo extended mix on the 2005 anthology "The Motown Box":
- 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.
- Lead vocals by Jimmy Ruffin
- Background vocals by the Originals (Freddie Gorman, Walter Gaines, Hank Dixon, C.P. Spencer) and the Andantes (Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, Louvain Demps)
- Instrumentation by the Funk Brothers
- The Supremes recorded a version shortly after Jimmy Ruffin recorded his hit single in 1966. Their version would not be used until it was released in 1969 on their album Let The Sunshine In.
- A 1966 cover by British Singer Chris Farlowe, on his album The Art of Chris Farlowe (November 1966), featuring his band "The Thunderbirds". Recording session produced by Andrew Loog Oldham and Mick Jagger.
- A 1967 Italian language version was recorded by Ruffin himself, with the title "Se Decidi Così" (If You Decide on This Way).
- A 1974 instrumental cover by Andy MacKay, saxophone and oboe player of Roxy Music, on his album In Search of Eddie Riff on E.G. Records.
- A 1980 cover by Dave Stewart on synth and vocals by Zombies singer Colin Blunstone on Stiff reached UK #13.
- A 1982 cover by Rex Smith on his album Everlasting Love.
- A 1988 cover by Boy George on his album Tense Nervous Headache (released in the UK only)
- A 1988 cover by Ruby Turner featured original performer Jimmy Ruffin. The accompanying album, The Motown Song Book, has been long out of print. 
- A 1991 cover by Paul Young featured in the film Fried Green Tomatoes; this version reached #22 on the US pop chart and became Young's third #1 song on the US adult contemporary chart (following "Everytime You Go Away" and "Oh Girl").
- It was also planned to be covered by Whitney Houston for the soundtrack to the 1992 film The Bodyguard, starring Houston and Kevin Costner. However, after Young's cover surfaced in Fried Green Tomatoes, the Dolly Parton song "I Will Always Love You" was selected in its place, becoming a record-breaking hit for Houston.
- A 1991 cover by Air Supply on his album "The Earth Is...".
- Two 1996 covers by Robson & Jerome, both a traditional version and one called soul version, on a UK#1 single.
- A 1996 cover by Steve Harley on his album Poetic Justice.
- RZA sampled the opening bass and drums on Ghostface Killah's "After the Smoke Is Clear" from the 1996 album Ironman.
- A 1998 cover by Joe Cocker.
- In 1999, a cover was released by Vonda Shepard on the Heart and Soul: More Songs From Ally McBeal album.
- A 2000 cover by Irish group Westlife.
- A 2002 cover by The Funk Brothers and Joan Osborne for the Funk Brothers documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown.
- A 2005 cover by The dB's which was made downloadable for Hurricane Katrina relief
- A 2007 cover by German Euro-pop band Blue Lagoon on their album Sentimental Fools.
- Also covered by Boy George in 1988, as well as a radio jingle in the early '90s.
- A cover from Ph.D., as frontman Jim Diamond cites Motown as an influence on his music.
- The Zombies played it for the 2008 CD/DVD Odessey & Oracle: 40th Anniversary Live Concert.
- The Gaslight Anthem worked the song in to the end of their set with their song "Angry Johnny And The Radio" on March 31, 2009, at The Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio.
- A 2009 cover by Rod Stewart on his album Soulbook.
- A 2010 cover by Mitch Ryder on his album Detroit Ain't Dead Yet.
- American Idol season 9 contestant Didi Benami covered performed the song on the show on March 30, 2010.
- A 2012 cover by Ari Hest, Single, Project 4 Records.
At the end of the final episode of British sitcom Drop The Dead Donkey the song is heard playing over a montage of clips showing the subsequent fates of the main characters.
The song is played on a jukebox at the end of the television series JAG episode "Chains of Command" (Season 3 Episode 16).
The song is performed in and used as the title of an episode of the soap opera General Hospital: Night Shift sung by Billy Dee Williams, whose character Toussaint DuBois performs the song with his fictional band, The Saints.
- Ritz, David (1992). "Jimmy Ruffin". Liner notes from Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection: 1959 - 1971. Motown Record Company, L.P./PolyGram.
- Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 264.
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("What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" / "Saturday Night at the Movies" / "You'll Never Walk Alone")
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