The Temptations – Lonely Lonely Man Am I


The (real) Temptations…


Listen – Lonely Lonely Man Am I MP3″

Greetings all.

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

15 Responses to “The Temptations – Lonely Lonely Man Am I”

  1. Inge Says:

    Gosh! I hate to do this to you — but the pic you’ve posted is not showing the Temptations! It’s a pic from the miniseries and shows the actors playing the guys.
    The track is the right one, though. lol


  2. rexlic Says:

    First time commenter, not-so-long time reader. Love what you do here, wish I could have made it to Asbury for what sounded like a killer nite.

    Just a brief question, then–is that photo above the temptin’ Tempts, or is from the made-from-TV movie of a few years back? Doesn’t quite look like the classic lineup to me. Just wonderin’. Love the track, BTW–seems to be that Motown’s endless covering of their own catalog–probably to score additional publishing $$$–has other uncovered gems like this.

  3. funky16corners Says:

    You’re both right…
    I hang my head in shame…(time for some new glasses, or more sleep)
    The picture has been replaced.

  4. Lyle Says:

    Thanks for another good post!

    If you are interested, there is an album called Motown Sings Motown Treasures, Vol. 1 & 2 (2 CDs, Hip-O Select 2004). I just got it for someone else as a gift and haven’t listened to it yet, but it got great reviews and looks terrific. Also, there is apparently a Vol. 3 — I have a version of My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me) by the Spinners. I put it on repeat for over 20 plays in a row, it was so fantastic. So yeah, there are a lot of undiscovered gems out there.


  5. Private Beach Says:

    Re the prevalence of morons: it’s a sobering thought that half the population is of below average intelligence.

  6. Planet Mondo Says:

    F16 don’t know this track at all criminal isn’t it – what a beaut’ tho’ – those voices are hypnotic – Funnily enough Ive done a Motown special on Planet Mondo this week – got youtube treats from The Temptations and The Supremes teaming up on a thumping version of I’m Losing You, Gladys knight’s verision of ‘Grapevine’ and some other funky nuggets

  7. funky16corners Says:

    I don’t know if I’ll ever cover all of Motown. There’s just so much I haven’t heard, not only by lesser known artists, but by all the major ones as well.

  8. rexlic Says:

    Whereas the very comical mixup of the photo switcheroo has now been resolved, a more sober thought prevails at the posting of the classic five pic–that four of the Temptations met an early demise. If I were feeling a little bit more political today, I would thunder at the tragic plight of those men, representing the larger cruel fate awaiting the black male in America.

    Instead, the thought of their untimely passings just fills me with sadness when set against the still-soaring sounds of those beautiful harmonies rising out of the mean streets of the Motor City, itself now a bitter reminder of American promises unmet. Since the passing of Melvin Franklin in 1995, I have acerbically thought of the old commercial citing “four out of five doctors” when listening to the Tempts: four out of five of them are gone too soon.

    Don’t mean to be such a downer, particularly here on a site devoted to such much joyous, inspiring music. Maybe if I listen to their exquisite take on Smokey’s “What Love Has Joined Together,” I can again find sunshine on a cloudy day.

  9. Inge Says:

    Hi rexlic,

    I am a big Temptation fan. Most of all, I came to love the voice of (the often maligned) David Ruffin — who would certainly deserve a post devoted solely to his solo work. His is one of the great voices that was silenced way too soon. Thank God, he’s left a wealth of recordings behind so we will be able to enjoy his great talent, although he’s no longer with us.

    Sing, David! Singggggggg! (lol)


  10. aircrew Says:

    I just have to say that this is all just so refreshing! As a slightly jaded (and lets face it sometimes the endless quests and enormity of the task does your nut in) London based digger this site has re-lit my fire. Such love of music deserves repect. whoever you are keep doing what you do.x

  11. funky16corners Says:

    I feel your pain. Something that has always bothered me is how much the concept of “Motown” seems to supercede the individual identities of the artists that performed for those labels. Certainly those of us who are soul fans know (and note the passing of) the like of Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin, but in a world where the group identity often continues on with few (or none) of the original members, it pays to stop and take their talents into consideration.

    Thanks, man.


  12. evan Says:


  13. funky16corners Says:

    And what’s that supposed to be?

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  15. bonqueque Says:

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$man all yall u.g.l.y and the fake ones from the movie are fine as all get out$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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