Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
|"Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)"|
|Single by The Temptations|
|From the album Sky's the Limit|
|B-side||"You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here On Earth"|
|Single Released||January 31, 1971|
|Single Format||vinyl record (7" 45 RPM)|
|Track recorded||Hitsville USA (Studio A); November 24, 1970|
|Vocals recorded||Hitsville USA (Studio A); December 3, 1970|
|Chart positions||1 (US), 1 (R&B)|
|Temptations single chronology|
|"Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite The World)"|
|"Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)"|
"Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" is a 1971 #1 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Motown label and produced by Norman Whitfield. It was the third of four Temptations songs to go to #1 on the Billboard pop singles chart, and is the final Temptations single to feature Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams, both of whom were previously members of The Primes.
About the song
During the late-1960s and early-1970s, Whitfield crafted a long string of "psychedelic soul" tracks for the Tempts, among them hits like "Psychedelic Shack", "I Can't Get Next to You", and the Grammy-winning "Cloud Nine". However, the group, particularly Eddie Kendricks, preferred the earlier classic soul material like "My Girl", and were constantly pressuring Whitfield to craft something similar.
"Just My Imagination" was one of the few times that Whitfield relented and crafted a ballad for the group, working from a tune that he and former Motown artist Barrett Strong had written before the "Cloud Nine" era, but had never gotten around to recording with the group. Featuring a lush orchestral arrangement with strings and French horns adorning a bluesy rhythm track and guitar line, the song has a strong doo wop influence and features intricate harmony vocals from the Tempts. In the center is Kendricks’ falsetto, relating the bittersweet story of a young man who is too shy to approach the woman he loves, and instead daydreams and imagines a relationship with her.
Concurrent group tension
In addition to Kendricks’ mournful lead vocal, "Just My Imagination" features a brief lead vocal passage by Kendricks’ bandmate and lifelong best friend Paul Willams. During most of 1970, Williams had been in and out of the hospital. Williams had developed alcoholism, which, when combined with his sickle-cell anemia, caused him to become seriously ill. Richard Street, a former bandmate of Temptation Otis Williams in The Distants, was signed ot Motown as lead singer of The Monitors, and was proposed as a replacement for Williams. As Paul Willaims got weaker, Street was called upon to sing Williams' parts from offstage, while Williams danced and lip-synced onstage.
By November, it became apparent that Williams was no longer physically capable of being in the group, which toured and performed frequently. Eddie Kendricks also began to withdraw from the group, and began an unhealthy reliance with former Temptations lead singer David Ruffin. Ruffin, who had been fired from the act in June 1968, convinced Kendricks that he should quit the group and go solo.
During a November 1970 engagement at the Copacabana nightclub in New York City, tensions came to a head. Otis Williams' mother had just died, and he gave a weak performance that night, drawing Kendricks' ire. Attempting to avoifd yet another fight, Williams and his best friend Melvin Franklin snuck out of the Copa immediately after the show, infuriating Kendricks to the point that he left as well and didn't return for the next show. The rift became irrepairable at that point, and it was mutually agreed by all parties invovled that Kendrcks would be leaving The Temptations.
Norman Whitfield had the instruimental track for "Just My Imagination" recorded on November 24 1970, and the group added its vocals on December 3. The "Just My Imagination" recording session was one of the last sessions to include Kendricks and Paul Williams, and although he and Kendricks weren't communicating by this time, Otis Williams called it "Eddie's finest moment."
Motown released "Just My Imagination" as a single on their Gordy imprint on January 14 1971, and the Temptations performed it in their final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 31. On-screen, it was apparent that Kendricks was off by himself, and that the group was no longer a complete unit. Kendricks’ mother tried to talk him out of leaving the group, but his mind was made up, as was those of his bandmates.
In March 1971, while "Just My Imagination" was on its way to becoming the #1 song in the country, Eddie Kendricks officially recieved his release from the group and inked a solo deal with Motown's Tamla label. He would be replaced by a long stream of similar-sounding tenors, including Ricky Owens for a few shows in 1971, Damon Harris from 1971 to 1975, Glenn Leonard from 1975 to 1982, and current Temptation Ron Tyson from 1982 to the present. Not long after Kendricks’ departure, Paul Williams was officially replaced with Richard Street.
A #1 hit on both the US pop and R&B charts, "Just My Imagination" was the group’s biggest single since "My Girl". After its release, the Temptations and Whitfield returned to psychedelic soul and funk singles. One of these singles, "Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are)", was a message track aimed at both Kendricks and his cohort Ruffin. Two and a half years after the release of "Just My Imagination", Paul Williams was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.
Kendricks and Ruffin would later briefly rejoin the group for a 1982 reunion tour, and, after being fired (a second time for Ruffin) in late December 1982, would later form their own touring and recording act, Ruffin and Kendrick.
- Lead Vocals by Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams
- Background Vocals by Dennis Edwards, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, and Otis Williams
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