Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "My Girl"

Thursday, March 6: 4:45 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
On March 6, 1965, The Temptations hit #1 with "My Girl".

Debates about the predominance of singer over song (or vice versa) reign eternal. The Temptations' "My Girl" makes a case for the song. It has one of the most memorable melodies of the rock era, one of Smokey Robinson's most memorable lyrics, and a choral structure that could serve any harmony group from early-1950s doo-woppers to Boyz II Men. Here, meaning comes just as much from atmospheric production and arrangement (also by Robinson, with fellow Miracle Ronnie White) as it does from the song itself. The sound has the ozone-intoxicated feeling you get after a summer thunderstorm. Bass and guitar parts –  particularly that unforgettable intro – rank with the era's most exquisite, and also set up the declamatory crooning of lead vocal. Perhaps the most thrilling moment comes with the soaring bridge: strings and guitar shimmer against the Temptations' hey hey hey, out of which Ruffin emerges with a swooping yet understated oooh yeah. The offhanded ejaculation gives the rest of the lyrics' romanticism complete credibility.

The Temptations are among the artists featured in the Detroit section of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Cities and Sound exhibit, part of the Museum's permanent collection.


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