According to group leader Otis Williams, the Temptations fought "tooth and nail" not to record "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" or "Run Charlie Run", a socially conscious Black power track (dealing primarily with the phenomenon of white flight) that called for them to repeatedly call out, in an affected Caucasian accent, "the niggers are comin'!" According to legend, lead singer Dennis Edwards didn't want to sing "Papa's" opening lines, because his own father had died on the third of September, but in actuality, Edwards' father had died on the third of October. In addition, his father was a minister, "a good, steady, religious man", not a "rolling stone".
The group was certain that "Papa" and All Directions would flop, and that they would be back to singing ballads like "My Girl" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" again. Although the first single, "Mother Nature", charted at number 92 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart, "Papa" was a number one hit and is today one of the Temptations' signature songs.