Listen to this track by mighty Motown hit machine Diana Ross & The Supremes. It’s “Someday We’ll Be Together”, a smash hit single from 1969 and found on their LP Cream Of The Crop.
The song has the distinction of being the last number one single on the R&B charts of the 1960s, while also being the first number one single of the next decade, too. It was also the group’s swan song, with Diana Ross leaving for a solo career by 1970. This gave the song’s refrain a kind of weightiness that seemed to go beyond the story depicted in it.
The song had actually been recorded previously in 1961 by doo-wop group Johnny (Bristol) & Jacky (Beavers), the team who also wrote it. Bristol oversaw the Supremes recording too. You can hear him singing backup, although that session was meant to be a demo with Bristol’s interjections as vocal encouragement in order to get the right take. When Motown honcho Berry Gordy heard it, he liked Bristol’s backing that offset Ross’ lead voice. Ironically for a swan song of a massive pop group like the Supremes, or “Diana Ross & The Supremes” as they became known, Cindy Birdsong and Mary Wilson aren’t featured on the track. This was indicative of the state of the union of the group at the time. Besides that though, this song always struck me as a swan song of another kind; that of childhood itself. Read more
Well, folks. It’s February 9th, so it’s Beatle day. This day in 1964, the Beatles went on TV to perform for a record 73 million people on the Ed Sullivan Show. To honour the blessed event, I will not actually post another Beatles song. That’s too predictable.
Here’s a clip of the Queen of all girl-groups – The Supremes – singing the Beatles, their chart competition. I had no idea up until tonight that this cover version even existed! It’s on their 1964 album A Bit Of Liverpool, which included a number of Lennon and McCartney tunes, including “A Hard Days Nught”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, and the Peter & Gordon hit “World Without Love”.
I suppose it makes sense, since it was a very big hit – the Beatles first number one song in North America (their real first was “Please Please Me”) and one of the ones included in their Sullivan performance. After it broke in America, a lot of cover versions of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” surfaced, including ones from artists you also might not expect like Duke Ellington, Bobby Fuller, Al Green, Pat Boone (OK, maybe you expected Boone since he would cover anything that moved…), and many others.
This Supremes cover was early on in their career with Motown, just before Berry Gordy crafted the Motown sound. The arrangement here is a reproduction of the original, and it’s clear that everyone involved is still finding their own voices. But, it’s a pretty interesting artifact, considering the run-for-their-money the Supremes would give the Beatles during the rest of the decade. And it can’t be underestimated the influence the Supremes had on the trajectory of R&B, rivalling that of the Beatles’ influence on rock music. That makes this a fascinating crossover of two musical titans.
In any case, folks. Have a happy Beatle day!