"JUST MY IMAGINATION (RUNNING AWAY WITH ME)" is a song by American
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
Billboard Hot 100
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
R&B Singles chart for three weeks, from February 27 to
March 20 of that year.
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 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
magazine listed "Just My Imagination" as number 389 on its list of the
500 Greatest Songs of All Time
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
A full orchestral arrangement with strings and French horns adorning
a bluesy rhythm track and bass line provides the instrumentals. Music
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." 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
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, producer/composer Norman
Whitfield and lyricist
Barrett Strong crafted a string of "psychedelic
soul " tracks for the Temptations. 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 ". In a
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.
"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." Except their late 1960s duets with Diana Ross 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
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
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."
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 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
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 LP, as the B-side .
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.
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 the group would not return to that chart
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.
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
The Temptations and
Norman Whitfield returned to
psychedelic soul for their next album, Solid Rock , whose second
Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are) ", was written
by Whitfield and
Barrett Strong as an alleged criticism of both
Kendricks and David Ruffin.
WEEKLY SINGLES CHARTS
Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
U.S. Billboard R text-align:left; vertical-align:top;">
Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
U.S. Cash Box
* ^ 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.
* ^ A B Ankeny, Jason. "
The Temptations > Biography". allmusic.
* ^ Audio interview with
Eddie Kendricks and
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
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 . 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.
* 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
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 0-8154-1