The Info List - Just My Imagination

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"Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" is a song by American soul group The Temptations. Released on the Gordy (Motown) label, and produced by Norman Whitfield, it features on the group's 1971 album, Sky's the Limit. When released as a single, "Just My Imagination" became the third Temptations song to reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. The single held the number one position on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart for two weeks in 1971, from March 27 to April 10. "Just My Imagination" also held the number-one spot on the Billboard R&B Singles chart for three weeks, from February 27 to March 20 of that year.[1] Today, "Just My Imagination" is considered one of the Temptations' signature songs, and is notable for recalling the sound of the group's 1960s recordings. It is also the final Temptations single to feature founding members Eddie Kendricks
Eddie Kendricks
and Paul Williams. During the process of recording and releasing the single, Kendricks left the group to begin a solo career, while the ailing Williams was forced to retire from the act for health reasons. In 2004, Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
magazine listed "Just My Imagination" as number 389 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.


1 Composition and lyrics 2 Origins 3 Recording 4 Release and reception 5 Chart performance

5.1 Weekly singles charts 5.2 Year-end charts

6 Notes 7 References 8 Further reading 9 External links

Composition and lyrics[edit] A full orchestral arrangement with strings and French horns adorning a bluesy rhythm track and bass line provides the instrumentals. Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Stephen Thomas Erlewine
of allmusic notes that the song is narrated by a man who imagines a relationship with the woman he loves but is canny enough to realize that his daydreams are fiction, yet is overwhelmed by them. The lyrics capture his resignation to his fantasies. The song as a whole captures their full emotional effect on him. The first two verses establish the theme and explore the narrator's daydreams, in which he and the object of his affections are lovers preparing to be married, to "raise a family" and build "a cozy little home / out in the country / with two children, maybe three." In the bridge, the narrator prays that he will never lose her love to another, or he will surely die." By introducing this doubt, the musical bridge simultaneously bridges the movement from dream to reality, completed when the final lines shift from imagery to bald statement: "But in reality / she doesn't even know me." For Erlewine, "the Temptations' performance has a dream-like quality, quietly drifting through the singer's hopes and desires."[2] We must add that just as the lyrics track the movement from dream to reality, the chorus goes on to anchor the drifting melody in a robust and highly memorable rhythm. Origins[edit] During the late 1960s and early 1970s, producer/composer Norman Whitfield and lyricist Barrett Strong
Barrett Strong
crafted a string of "psychedelic soul" tracks for the Temptations.[3] By 1970, the Temptations had released psychedically-influenced hits such as "Runaway Child, Running Wild", "Psychedelic Shack", "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)", and the Grammy Award-winning "Cloud Nine".[4] In a 1991 interview, Eddie Kendricks
Eddie Kendricks
recalled that many of the Temptations' fans were "screaming bloody murder" after the group delved into psychedelia, and demanded a return to their original soul sound.[5] "Just My Imagination" was the result of one of the few times that Whitfield relented and produced a ballad as a single for the group. Whitfield and Strong wrote the song in 1969, but with the Temptations' psychedelic soul singles consistently keeping them in the US Top 20, Whitfield and Strong decided to shelve the composition and wait for the right time to record it. In late 1970, the Temptations' single "Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite the World)", a psychedelic soul song about world peace, failed to reach the Top 30, and Whitfield decided to record and release "Just My Imagination" as the next single. He approached Barrett Strong, and asked him to pull out "that song we were messing around with a year ago... because I'm going to record it today."[6] Except their late 1960s duets with Diana Ross & the Supremes, the Temptations had not released a single that was not based in psychedelia since "Please Return Your Love to Me" from The Temptations Wish It Would Rain in 1968. Recording[edit] Norman Whitfield began the recording of "Just My Imagination" by preparing the song's instrumental track. Whitfield arranged and recorded the non-orchestral elements of the instrumental with Motown's studio band, The Funk Brothers, who for this recording included Eddie "Chank" Willis on guitar, Jack Ashford on marimba, Jack Brokensha on timpani, Andrew Smith on drums, and Bob Babbitt
Bob Babbitt
on bass. Jerry Long, an arranger who had previous experience with scoring films in Paris, worked on the orchestral arrangement and conducted several members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
in performing the horns and strings for the recording. The Temptations
The Temptations
had heard the Funk Brothers' tracks and loved them, but were "totally knocked out," according to Otis Williams, when they heard "the finished record with all the strings."[7] The Temptations
The Temptations
added their vocals at Motown's Hitsville USA headquarters. While all five Temptations usually sang lead on singles during the psychedelic soul era, "Just My Imagination" is primarily a showcase for Eddie Kendricks, who sang lead on such Temptations hits as "Get Ready," "The Way You Do the Things You Do," and "You're My Everything"; in fact, this is the only Temptations hit in which Dennis Edwards did not have a lead vocal during his entire tenure with the group. The Temptations
The Temptations
remained at Hitsville overnight recording "Just My Imagination," and while the other four members went home at six o'clock in the morning, Kendricks remained in the studio, spending several additional hours recording takes for his lead vocal. The song was recorded in the midst of a bitter feud between Kendricks and the Temptations' de facto leader, Otis Williams. Dissatisfied and frustrated with Williams' leadership, Kendricks began to withdraw from the group, and picked several fights with either Williams or his best friend, bass singer Melvin Franklin. When Kendricks told his friend ex-Temptation David Ruffin
David Ruffin
about his problems in the group, Ruffin convinced Kendricks that he should begin a solo career. After a final altercation during a November 1970 Copacabana engagement, both Kendricks and Williams agreed that it would be best for Kendricks to leave the group. By the time "Just My Imagination" was recorded, Williams and Kendricks were no longer on friendly speaking terms. Nevertheless, Williams was impressed by Kendricks' performance on the recording, and in his 1988 Temptations biography referred to "Just My Imagination" as "Eddie's finest moment."[8] Paul Williams, the Temptations' original lead singer and Kendricks' lifelong best friend, who sings the first line in the bridge ("Every night, on my knees, I pray..."), had suffered for three years from health problems related to alcoholism and sickle-cell disease. By the time "Just My Imagination" was cut, Paul Williams' contributions to the Temptations' recordings had been reduced, and the group had Otis Williams' old associate Richard Street
Richard Street
lined up as Paul Williams' replacement. As for Kendricks, he was eventually replaced by Damon Harris, who would be featured in the group's 1973 hit "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone". Release and reception[edit] Motown
released "Just My Imagination" as a single on their Gordy label on January 14, 1971, with the up-tempo psychedelic soul song "You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here on Earth", from the 1970 Psychedelic Shack
Psychedelic Shack
LP, as the B-side. The Temptations
The Temptations
performed "Just My Imagination" and "Get Ready" for their final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, broadcast live on January 31. On-screen, Kendricks stood several feet away from the other Temptations, and made little eye contact with them; Otis Williams later remarked that one could see the group was no longer a complete unit:

But there was such a bittersweet feeling. Eddie had really changed. Paul was on his last legs. Watch the clip of us doing the song on Ed Sullivan we're not together. Eddie is off by himself. There was no more group. Sure enough, when we played the Copa that week, Eddie left between shows. He didn't come back.[9]

On February 7, 1971, "Just My Imagination" entered the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 71 and later number one on both the Hot 100 and the U.S. Billboard R&B Singles charts.[6] It also became the group's first entry on the Adult Contemporary
Adult Contemporary
chart, reaching number 33; the group would not return to that chart until 1984.[10] The single was included along with "Unite the World" on the Temptations' ninth regular studio album, Sky's the Limit, which included the final Temptations recordings to feature Eddie Kendricks. He began working on his solo album All By Myself shortly before officially leaving the group.[4] The intended follow-up to "Just My Imagination" was "Smiling Faces Sometimes", on which Kendricks sang lead. When Kendricks left, they released, instead, "I'm The Exception to the Rule", a song in the same vein (featuring Kendricks, Otis Williams and Edwards on lead) which follows "Just My Imagination" on the album. Unable to promote the song because they did not have anyone to do his parts in concert, the song failed miserably so the company pushed the "B-side" – the group's re-recording of "It's Summer", initially the B-side of "Ball of Confusion", at the last-minute, and Norman Whitfield had The Undisputed Truth record "Smiling Faces Sometimes", for whom it was a major hit. The Temptations
The Temptations
and Norman Whitfield returned to psychedelic soul for their next album, Solid Rock, whose second single, "Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)", was written by Whitfield and Barrett Strong
Barrett Strong
as an alleged criticism of both Kendricks and David Ruffin. Chart performance[edit]

Weekly singles charts[edit]

Chart (1971) Peak position

Canada RPM[11] 72

UK 8

U.S. Billboard Hot 100[12] 1

U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 33

U.S. Billboard R&B 1

U.S. Cash Box Top 100 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1971) Rank

U.S. Billboard Hot 100[13] 9

U.S. Cash Box 7

U.S. R&B/Soul (Billboard)[14]


UK 56


^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 572.  ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)". allmusic. Retrieved 2008-11-07. . ^ Eder, Bruce. " Norman Whitfield > Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2008-11-13.  ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. " The Temptations
The Temptations
> Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2008-11-13.  ^ Audio interview with Eddie Kendricks
Eddie Kendricks
and David Ruffin
David Ruffin
Archived 2010-02-12 at the Wayback Machine., recorded in 1991 in the United Kingdom. Retrieved on September 28, 2005. When asked several times about the Temptations' psychedelic records, Kendricks asserts that having the group record psychedelic soul was wholly "the producer's [Norman Whitfield's] idea", and that by 1970, "the fans were screaming bloody murder", and demanding a return "to what we do best". ^ a b Bronson 2003 ^ Williams & Romanowski 2002, p. 151 ^ Williams & Romanowski 2002, p. 150 ^ Williams, Otis and Weinger, Harry (2002). My Girl: The Very Best of the Temptations [CD liner notes]. New York: Motown/Universal Records. ^ Bronson, Fred (October 9, 2008). "Chart Beat". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-11-07. . ^ Canada RPM 100 Singles, April 3, 1971 ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1971/Top 100 Songs of 1971". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-05.  ^ Billboard. Books.google.com. 1971-12-25. p. 15. Retrieved 2016-10-03. 


Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book
of Number One Hits (5th ed.). New York: Billboard. ISBN 0-8230-7677-6. . Crandall, Bill; et al. (December 9, 2004). "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
(963): 65–163. Retrieved 2008-11-07. . ( EBSCO
subscription required for online access.) Williams, Otis; Romanowski, Patricia (2002). Temptations (Revised ed.). Lanham, MD: Cooper Square. ISBN 0-8154-1218-5. .

Further reading[edit]

"Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)". Super Seventies Rocksite!. Retrieved 2008-11-07. .

External links[edit]

Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics

Preceded by "Me and Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
number one single April 3, 1971 (two weeks) Succeeded by "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night

Preceded by "Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone" by Johnnie Taylor Billboard's Best Selling Soul Singles number one single March 6, 1971 (three weeks) Succeeded by "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye

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The Temptations

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Melvin Franklin Eddie Kendricks Paul Williams Elbridge Bryant David Ruffin Dennis Edwards Ricky Owens Richard Street Damon Harris Glenn Leonard Louis Price Ali-Ollie Woodson Theo Peoples Harry McGilberry Barrington "Bo" Henderson Ray Davis G. C. Cameron Joe Herndon Bruce Williamson

Studio albums

Meet the Temptations The Temptations
The Temptations
Sing Smokey The Temptin' Temptations Gettin' Ready The Temptations
The Temptations
with a Lot o' Soul The Temptations
The Temptations
Wish It Would Rain Cloud Nine Puzzle People Psychedelic Shack Sky's the Limit Solid Rock All Directions Masterpiece 1990 A Song
for You House Party Wings of Love The Temptations
The Temptations
Do the Temptations Bare Back Hear to Tempt You Power The Temptations Reunion Surface Thrills Back to Basics Truly for You Touch Me To Be Continued... Together Again Special Milestone Phoenix Rising Ear-Resistible Awesome Legacy Still Here

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The Temptations
The Temptations
in a Mellow Mood For Lovers Only Reflections Back to Front

Live albums

Temptations Live! Live at the Copa Live at London's Talk
of the Town The Temptations
The Temptations
in Japan

Other albums

Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations TCB The Temptations
The Temptations
Show Together On Broadway The Temptations
The Temptations
Christmas Card Give Love at Christmas Lost and Found: You've Got to Earn It (1962–1968)


Greatest Hits Greatest Hits II Anthology Emperors of Soul The Ultimate Collection My Girl: The Very Best of the Temptations Psychedelic Soul

Singles (US/UK Top 10)

"My Girl" "Get Ready" "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" "(I Know) I'm Losing You" "All I Need" "You're My Everything" "I Wish It Would Rain" "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" "Cloud Nine" "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" "Run Away Child, Running Wild" "I Can't Get Next to You" "Psychedelic Shack" "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" "Masterpiece" "Let Your Hair Down" "Happy People" "Shakey Ground" "Treat Her Like a Lady" "The Motown
Song" "My Girl" (reissue)


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The Temptations
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Book Category

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The Temptations
The Temptations
singles discography


"Oh Mother of Mine" (1961) "Check Yourself" (1961) "(You're My) Dream Come True" (1962) "Mind Over Matter (I'm Gonna Make You Mine)" (1962) "Paradise" (1962) "I Want a Love I Can See" (1963) "Farewell My Love" (1963) "The Way You Do the Things You Do" (1964) "I'll Be in Trouble" (1964) / "The Girl's Alright with Me" (1964) "Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)" (1964) "My Girl" (1964) "It's Growing" (1965) "Since I Lost My Baby" (1965) / "You've Got to Earn It" (1965) "My Baby" (1965) / "Don't Look Back" (1965) "Get Ready" (1966) "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (1966) "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" (1966) "(I Know) I'm Losing You" (1966) "All I Need" (1967) "You're My Everything" (1967) / "I've Been Good To You" (1967) "(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It's You That I Need" (1967) "I Wish It Would Rain" (1968) / "I Truly, Truly Believe" (1968) "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" (1968) "Please Return Your Love to Me" (1968) "Cloud Nine" (1968) "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1968) / "Silent Night" (1968) "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" (1969) "Runaway Child, Running Wild" (1969) "I'll Try Something New" (1969) "Don't Let the Joneses Get You Down" (1969) "I Second That Emotion" (1969) "I Can't Get Next to You" (1969) "The Weight" (1969)


"Psychedelic Shack" (1970) "Why (Must We Fall in Love)" (1970) "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)" (1970) "Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite the World)" (1970) / "Hum Along and Dance" (1970) "Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)" (1971) "It's Summer" (1971) "Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)" (1971) "Take a Look Around" (1972) "Mother Nature" (1972) / "Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On" (1972) "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" (1972) "Masterpiece" (1973) "Plastic Man" (1973) "Hey Girl (I Like Your Style)" (1973) "Law of the Land" (1973) "Let Your Hair Down" (1973) "Heavenly" (1974) "You've Got My Soul on Fire" (1974) "Happy People" (1974) "Shakey Ground" (1975) "Glasshouse" (1975) "Keep Holdin' On" (1976) "Up the Creek (Without a Paddle)" (1976) "Who are You (and What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life)" (1976) "In a Lifetime" (1977) "Think for Yourself" (1977) "Bare Back" (1978) "Ever Ready Love" (1978)


"Power" (1980) "Struck By Lightning Twice" (1980) "Aiming At Your Heart" (1981) "Oh What A Night" (1981) "Standing On The Top - Pt. 1" (1982) "More On The Inside" (1982) "Money's Hard To Get" (1982) "Love On My Mind Tonight" (1983) "Surface Thrills" (1983) "Miss Busy Body (Get Your Body Busy)" (1983) "Sail Away" (1984) "Treat Her Like a Lady" (1984) "My Love Is True (Truly For You)" (1985) "How Can You Say That It's Over" (1985) "Do You Really Love Your Baby" (1985) "Deeper Than Love" (1985) "Touch Me" (1986) "I'm Fascinated" (1986) "A Fine Mess" (1986) "My Girl" (re-issue) (1986) "Lady Soul" (1986) "To Be Continued..." (1986) "Someone" (1987) "I Wonder Who She's Seeing Now" (1987) "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" (re-issue) (1987) "Look What You Started" (1987) "Do You Wanna Go With Me" (1988) "All I Want From You" (1989) "Special" (1989) "Loveline" (1989)


"Soul to Soul" (1990) "One Step At A Time (Remix)" (1990) "The Motown
Song" (1991) "The Jones" (1991) "My Girl" (re-issue) (1992) "Hoops of Fire" (1992) "Error of Our Ways" (1994) "Silent Night" (1995) "Stay" (1998) "This is My Promise" (1998) "How Could He Hurt You" (1999)


"I'm Here" (2000)

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Cooleyhighharmony II Evolution Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya Full Circle Throwback, Vol. 1 The Remedy Motown: Hitsville USA Love Twenty Collide

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"Motownphilly" "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" "Uhh Ahh" "Please Don't Go" "End of the Road" "In the Still of the Nite (I'll Remember)" "Let It Snow" "I'll Make Love to You" "On Bended Knee" "Thank You" "Water Runs Dry" "One Sweet Day" "Brokenhearted" "Hey Lover" "4 Seasons of Loneliness" "A Song
for Mama" "Doin' Just Fine" "I Will Get There" "Pass You By" "Thank You in Advance" "The Color of Love" "Relax Your Mind" "What You Won't Do for Love" "The Tracks of My Tears" "Just My Imagination" "War" "Mercy Mercy Me" "I Can't Make You Love Me" "Iris" "If You Leave Me Now"

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