My Girl (1965) - The Temptations - All about the song

Among the many artists who have covered this song are Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Dolly Parton and The Mamas & The Papas.

History of the song "My Girl" by The Temptations

"My Girl" is a famous soul hit by The Temptations. Back in 1965, the track became the first number one for the band! And to this day it remains a cult hit of its era ... An interesting fact, but the source of inspiration for writing "My Girl" was Claudette - the wife of the author of the track, Smokey Robinson! The song was included on the album The Temptations Sing Smokey, released in 1965.

“Dub der-nern, dub der-nern…” — Basically, that playful guitar sound doesn't matter in the slightest. It's not loud, it's not heavy... There's nothing unusual about it, and it uses only two notes of the major scale! But as soon as you hear it, it becomes clear: this sounds like “My Girl” by The Temptations… And it’s wonderful!


"My Girl" is one of the key soul records of the 60s. The song was written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, who were both members of The Miracles. Robinson wrote the lyrics - at the time he was married to his first wife, Claudette (they were married from 1957 to 1986). Therefore, it is generally accepted that it was Claudette who became the source of inspiration ... However, Smokey himself said that the song is not about a specific girl, but about all the women of the world ... The beautiful guitar sound at the very beginning of the song, by the way, belongs to Motown session musician Robert White.

Smokey Robinson
Smokey Robinson

This song was written at the Apollo Theater while The Temptations were on tour with The Miracles. According to Robinson, he was working on the song on piano in the theater when his bandmate Ronald White joined him and they wrote the song. When The Temptations heard this, they convinced Robinson to let them record the track with The Miracles. Robinson, who was Berry Gordy's right hand at Motown, agreed. So, the very next week he was rehearsing a song with The Temptations. When they returned to Detroit, Robinson and White produced the session. This is how the legendary "My Girl" appeared!

It was the first Temptations single to feature Ruffin as lead vocalist. This eventually led to Ruffin becoming the band's main vocalist (Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams had previously taken lead roles on previous Temptations singles)! Subsequently, The Temptations became the most talented vocal group in Motown, and Robinson wrote many more hits for them ... But it was the song "My Girl" that made the Temptations real stars!

The Temptations
The Temptations

Founder and last original member of The Temptations, singer Otis Williams recalled:

“Our real big game, our first million-seller was My Girl, which came out in 1965…”

The song that was everywhere...

Curiously, Smokey wrote "My Girl" as a kind of answer to his own song "My Guy". The said track was also a success for Mary Wells in 1964... And "My Girl" surpassed that success! Robinson had the opportunity to keep this tidbit for his band, but he made it a hit for The Temptations. As the author himself said, he already knew in advance how well the team would cope with his creation ... And he did not lose! He also knew this because he had been writing songs for The Temptations since 1963. So, for example, the composition "The Way You Do the Things You Do" was written by Smokey together with another Miracles member, Bobby Rogers.

Otis Williams later said:

“We were at the Apollo in New York and Smokey came over to check on how we rehearsed his song. Then I told him: “It looks like this could be something cool ...” Then we returned home, recorded this track, and ... were amazed! We just sat there listening to "My Girl" and it sounded like a real number one! You know, it's very rare to predict the number one tune... But at the time, we really felt it was going to be something more than the songs we'd recorded before. And fortunately, that's how it was."

The track was played by members of Motown's house band, The Funk Brothers. The song has a very simple but effective arrangement written by Paul Reiser. It opens with James Jamerson's bass line, followed by a rising guitar sound played by songwriter/producer Ronald White... There are finger snaps, then drums played by Benny Benjamin and strings provided by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The arrangement emphasizes the vocals, making the lyrics very clear. This served as a model for future Temptations recordings and helped establish them as stars, as singers were always the focus of attention on stage.

Great tenderness, controlled strength...

Robinson's understanding of what David Ruffin was able to convey was the key to the song's success: capable of great vocal tenderness but impressive commanding power, "My Girl", released on December 21, 1964, allowed him to unleash both aspects of his singing talent! "My Girl" was rated the tenth biggest hit of 1965! Over time, the track "My Girl" will become one of the most successful singles from Motown! The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in the late 90s.

Interesting Facts…

The Temptations
The Temptations
  • The Temptations were innovative in terms of choreography, making precise movements to highlight their songs. The group used expressive gestures that have become widely associated with the song! It was not uncommon to see people making movements while listening to her.
  • Among the many artists who have covered this song are Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Dolly Parton and The Mamas & The Papas.

  • The track was used as the title and theme song of the 1991 film starring Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky, as well as its 1994 sequel.
  • The song has also appeared in The Big Chill (1983), Mannequin (1987), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), Munich (2005) and Hard Walk: A History Dewey Cox (2007).
  • The Rolling Stones covered the song and released it on their Flowers compilation in June 1967.

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