The Great Big Cover Up: The Temptations’ “My Girl”

Posted on January 9, 2012

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My girls, in sunny Singapura foto@me

Today, a blast from the past that got shaken n’ stirred in various presents.

“My Girl” was released by The Temptations in 1964, and was written by the great Smokey Robinson in reportedly 10-20 minutes, thank you very much. It launched the career of then-Johnny-come-lately David Ruffin, who had only joined The Temptations as a replacement for Al Bryant. After the success of the song – no. 1 on U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B singles – David Ruffin went on to lead other songs, including “Since I Lost My Baby”. He later got axed from the group for getting too big for his boots.

Here’s the original. The reason why Smokey wanted David Ruffin to sing it was because he saw great potential in his special, “mellow yet gruff” voice. (side note: I WANT TO DANCE LIKE THAT.)

Now, a song as catchy and sweet as all that – Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, no less – is quite likely to make other people go ka-ching!! as well. Some owned it; some, uh, probably still sounded better than I do at karaoke. In order of love, and all those beautiful things. (from small love to BIG love)

Rolling Stones (1967)

It’s… ok. Don’t hate. Y’all gotta admit it’s not spec-fugalicious-tacular. It sounds like Mick Jagger just… singing. Which is… nice. That’s all… I can say. I’m posting this vid although it’s fake, cos Mick is shoulder-shaking (= loves) and I just like to pretend. OK, next.

Prince Buster

I got really excited to find out that the Jamaican ska legend Prince Buster covered “My Girl”, but something seems to be lost in translation. Perhaps I find the beat rather off. Or perhaps the sweet sensibility of the song fails to break through all the clanging and banging of the ska band. Still, I appreciate a take on the song that isn’t blues.

Otis Redding (1965)

Just as I warbled about non-blues takes. Still, Otis’ voice is Otis’ voice. You know? And this vid, a live performance, is sweeeeet shit. Otis is pure soul. Plus, check out the crowd when the camera pans over it.

Michael Jackson (1972)

As a life-long MJ fan, how not to like? This was off 1972’s Ben. MJ sounds youthful, bright and his vocal range is gorgeous. We still feel the loss, don’t we.

The Jesus and Mary Chain (2011)

I got this off Flavorwire’s 10 Crazy-Good Covers You’ve Probably Never Heard. I loved it when I first heard it in June 2011; have loved it ever since. I am unable to not-love any Jesus and Mary Chain offerings, anyway. Also, perhaps I am just a creature of the post-1980s. This cover is serious, sexy, slightly creepy-dangerous, and just awesomely different. It’s that hot dude in a fedora and 1-day stubble whom you know is a complete asshole but you’re irresistibly attracted to.

Johnny!!!! Be mine!!!

I’ve kind of gone off in a different direction, haven’t I.

To leave you: Off the Flavorwire list is another astounding goodie. Man Man and Etta? Woulda thought?