The (real) Temptations…
“Listen – Lonely Lonely Man Am I MP3″
Friday is here! HIYYYOOOOO!
I often head up my Friday posts with a generic gripe about how happy I am that the week is over, yet when I started to type this, I took a moment of existential reflection and realized that the passage of a perfectly good five-day block of time ought not be celebrated (unless of course you’re in a dungeon somewhere, clasped in irons).
In the past week I got to spend some quality time with my wife and kids, and while not nearly enough for my taste, it was still a lot better than nothing. I got a cool 45 in the mail, picked up a groovy boxed set at a bargain price and I’m in the middle of a good book; so, despite my inclination to complain, I really ought not to.
If I am besieged by morons at every turn, I must realize that most people are (the moron population increasing exponentially with every passing minute). If I can’t stand my job, and live in dire fear that the whole business might collapse at any minute, I need only notice that countless millions feel the same ongoing dread every single day.
Taken in the macro, the state of the world is depressing, but I’m inclined to think that it has always been thus, and will likely continue that way, so I think I’ll try a little Zen, reed-bending-in-the-breeze action.
So, what say we all take a deep, end of week breath, refocus our energy and listen to some good soul music?
A while back – in the Blogger era – I posted one of my all-time favorite soul sides, ‘Lonely Lonely Girl Am I’ by the Velvelettes. You can read the old post to see what I had to say in detail, but the short answer is that it is a brilliant record (thanks in large part to co-writer/producer Norman Whitfield).
It was a few years before I managed to track down – in a dusty flea market no less – the original recording of the tune, in which it is removed from it’s glimmering distaff presentation and reimagined (or pre-imagined) as a languid sea of male harmony.
That sea was being sailed by none other that the Temptations.
Appearing on their 1966 ‘Gettin’ Ready’ LP – which also contained ‘Get Ready’ and ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’- the Temptations version of the song slows the tempo down (as does the later cover by Chuck Jackson) and wraps the whole thing in a more subdued arrangement. As much as I’ve grown to love the Velvelettes version, the Temps take on the song really works for me to the point where I can appreciate both styles (still leaning toward the Velvelettes).
This is certainly not always the case, as many songs don’t readily lend themselves to reinterpretation. Happily, with ‘Lonely Lonely Girl/Man Am I’ this was not the case.
The creative world is always engaged in acts of reinterpretation. Sometimes this is part of a genuine creative search. Most of the time – as is the case with modern Hollywood – it’s born of unfortunate combination of arrogance and sloth (i.e. ‘I can do the Wizard of Oz BETTER!!’). I get the feeling that at Motown it was more the former than the latter. From what I’ve read there was a real sense of competition (not always healthy, but whatever) which pushed the writers and producers to redo material with a variety of artists until they hit the mark. When it came to this song, they hit it twice.
That said, I hope you dig the tune. Have a great weekend and I’ll be back on Monday with a new edition of Funky16Corners Radio.
NOTE: Thanks to a couple of sharp-eyed readers who noticed that I grabbed a pic, not of the Temptations, but a bunch of actors playing the Temptations in a movie. Oh dear…The picture has been replaced. – Larry