Behind the song: The Supremes, “Where Did Our Love Go”


Including a rare German version of The Supremes and performances by Ringo, Manhattan Transfer, The J. Geils Band, Adam Ant, Stooshe and more.

As a complement to our ongoing Songwriter U series, “Lessons with Lamont”, featuring the wisdom of Lamont Dozier from the Holland-Dozier-Holland Motown songwriting team, we bring you this, an example of his talent. songwriter, one of many beloved hits and standards he wrote with his partners Eddie and Brian Holland as the acclaimed hitmaking team of Motown Holland-Dozier-Holland.

It shows why his wisdom on the artistic and practical aspects of songwriting is important and worth considering. Holland-Dozier-Holland, after all, stands forever on top of the songwriting mountain, having created countless songs that hit but modern standards.

What is the difference? A hit is a hit for a moment in time (some that last longer than others). A standard is a song for the ages, a song that has already stood the test of time, famous, beloved and persistent to be recorded and performed through the decades.

Lamont wrote many standards. “Where has our love gone” is one; it was a number one hit recorded by Diana Ross and The Supremes in 1964. It’s the kind of song, as history claims, that could be an irresistible hit for many other artists and bands in many genres. , from R&B to rock through soul through an a capella vocal group to 80s synth-rock to country and beyond.

Evidence of the song’s power in “Where Did Your Love Go” abounds in the myriad of versions, which cross all bins and borders. We’re happy to share with you today a huge number of performances, from artists ranging from Ringo Starr to The Manhattan Transfer to The J. Geils Band to Adam Ant to Soft Cell and beyond. It doesn’t stop.

And yet, as Lamont explains here, it was a song written for one band who passed it on, then recorded by another who didn’t want to record it, and felt it was in the wrong place. tone.

It might not have been recorded and sung if Lamont had not persevered. But let him tell this story.

This story is also told in these recordings, which begin with the official studio version of The Supremes, as well as the surprisingly moving-sounding German-language version they recorded. (Can Diana Ross still sound touching, even in German? Yes!)

One of the more moving versions is that of Stooshe, a great British girl group, who sings it a cappella in perfect harmony in three voices, with great soul, capturing the vibe of the Motown girl group but with a sparkle. modern and beautifully soulful.

And the song’s synth-pop medley with Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”, which was only surpassed by The Clash’s “Rock The Casbah” as everyone’s favorite song to dance to clubs in the early 80s. , still sounds good, and eminently still dancing.

The Supremes single was written and produced in Motown by Lamont and the Hollands in 1964. It was the first Supremes single to rank No. 1 on the Billboard US Pop Singles chart, where it remained for two weeks, from August 16 to 29, 1964. It was also the first in a series of five Supremes songs to reach number one (preceding “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me “,” Stop! In the name of love “and” Back in my arms “).

Lamont. Photo by Paul Zollo / American songwriter.

Here is the story behind this song and this record, told by Lamont in his own words.

LAMONT DOZIER: I originally cut [“Where Did Our Love Go”] thinking of the Marvelettes. In fact, I engraved it in the key of Gladys Horton, the lead singer, which was much lower than that of Diana Ross. At the time, at Motown, the policy was that songwriters had to pay for the songs we recorded if they weren’t recorded by one of their artists. It never occurred to me that the Marvelettes wouldn’t like the song.

I had the chorus and went to the office to talk to Gladys and played it for her.

She said, “Oh honey, we don’t do that stuff. And this is the worse something I have never heard. She was adamant about it. I was shocked.

I knew I was in big trouble if I didn’t hurry and get someone to do the song because I wasn’t about to pay for the song. I went through the Motown artist list and got all the way to the bottom of the list and there were the Supremes, better known at the time as “No Hit Supremes”.

I told them it was tailor-made for them knowing they had nothing to do at the time and needed a song. To my surprise, they said no. Gladys told them I was looking for someone to record it. I wasn’t giving up. Brian (Holland), Eddie (Holland) and I finally persuaded them to do it, convincing them that it was their saving grace and that they could not refuse it. We had already had Top 40 hits with Martha and the Vandellas but they hadn’t had any significant recordings yet.

They were so pissed off that they agreed to do it that in the studio they had a really bad attitude. Diana (Ross) said it was in the wrong key, that it was too low. (Of course it was – I wrote it in Gladys key.) Since the song was already cut, she must have sang it in that key and she had never sung this low before. As it turned out, her bad demeanor and low-key character was just what the song needed! I had developed complex choirs but the girls refused to learn them. Finally, I said, “Just sing ‘Baby, baby, baby’. It worked to their advantage and worked perfectly.

They didn’t necessarily agree. Diana and I were throwing obscenities at each other and she rushed over to Berry (Gordy, Jr.) and told him that I had said something wrong about her. He went down to the studio to see what was wrong and while he was there he asked to hear the song. He thought it was really good, but said he didn’t know if it was a success, but thought it would be the Top 10.

The song was released and reached # 1 on the charts. From then on, the blows followed one another. It was the first of 13 consecutive # 1s we did on the Supremes. The next time Hollands and I saw the girls was at the airport. They were getting off a plane with their Yorkshire terriers in mink stoles. We started to laugh. It was so funny to see them turn into stars overnight.

“Where Did Your Love Go” by The Supremes
The credits :

Written and produced by Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland
Lead vocals by Diana Ross
Choirs of Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson
All instruments from The Funk Brothers:
Bass by James Jamerson
Richard “Pistol” Allen Drums
Guitar by Eddie Willis, Robert White
Piano by Earl Van Dyke
Vibraphone by Jack Ashford
Percussion (trampled feet) by Eddie Holland, Mike Valvano
The baritone saxophone solo is by Andrew “Mike” Terry

The original version of the song was transmitted to astronauts orbiting Earth in August 1965 during the Gemini 5 mission.

A few months later, in April 1965, The Supremes released their German language version of the song, “Baby, Baby, Wo ist Unsere Liebe” for the German market; it was the B side of their German recording of “Moonlight and Kisses”.

Let’s start with the official 1964 record first, followed by the Supremes in German, then a quick funhouse journey through song in its many forms over the years.

The Supremes, “Where Has Our Love Gone?”
Written and produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland, 1964.

Les Suprêmes in German, “Baby, Baby, Wo ist Unsere Liebe”,
the 1965 German version of “Where Did Our Love Go”.

The Supremes, “Where Did Our Love Go” in a rare film by the band dancing in traffic singing this song.

Stooshe, “Where Did Our Love Go”, in a stunning three-part a cappella interpretation.
Stooshe is Alexandra Buggs, Karis Anderson and Courtney Rumbold.

Soft Cell’s 1981 hit medley of “Tainted Love” and “Where Did Our Love Go”

Ringo Starr, “Where Has Our Love Gone?”

Adam Ant, “Where Has Our Love Gone?”

“There are no bad days. There are good days and there are learning days … To live your full potential, you must approach life with humility. There is no such thing as a bad day, if you wake up and breathe in you are having a good day.
– Lamont Dozier

Skylias Cares, “Where Has Our Love Gone?”

J. Geils Band, “Where Has Our Love Gone?”

Donnie Elbert, “Where Has Our Love Gone?”

“Any songwriting is personal. You must be ready to put
your own heart at stake if you want to touch the hearts of your listeners.
– Lamont Dozier

The Manhattan Transfer, “Where Did Our Love Go.”

Keahiwai, “Where Did Oour Love Go”, the beloved Hawaiian duo of Mailani Makainai and Lei Melket of O’ahu.

Wall, “Where’s our love gone?”

“You have to trust yourself and believe that you know better than anyone what is best for your song. But always remember: this is the song. It’s not about you.
-Lamont Dozier

Gluebound, “Where Has Our Love Gone?”

Kidd Video, “Where Has Our Love Gone.”
Kidd Video was a live-action / cartoon series that aired on Saturday mornings. It featured Kidd Video and his band, transported from a cartoon world known as The Flipside.
The show aired on NBC from 1984 to 1985 before being picked up by CBS.

Emma Bunton, “Where Has Our Love Gone?”

Emeah, “Where’s our love gone?”

“Listen to the birdsong! You’d be surprised some of the ideas I borrowed from some tree whistling, which the birds gave me.
So be aware. Keep your eyes and ears open for what people are saying and what the birds are singing. If you work hard and listen, the Muse will be there for you.
-Lamont Dozier

Declan, “Where has our love gone?”

GG & Soluna, “Where has our love gone?”
GG Kettel with his daughter Soluna Samay, Nuremberg, 2003.

Sinitta, “Where Did Our Love Go”, UK.

“Let the song reveal itself to you. Marinate in the idea so that it can emerge well. There is no set duration. Some songs arrive in a hurry like a freight train, but others want to be continued for a while.

–Lamont Dozier

Are you a songwriter? Enter the American songwriter lyrics contest.


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