Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Sky's The LimitReleased: 1971Charted:
The song is about a guy who is madly in love with a girl, but they're only together in his imagination. Every day, he watches her walk by his window, and in his reverie he pictures their life together. In reality, she doesn't even know him.
Motown writers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote "Just My Imagination" in the late '60s, but since psychedelic songs were popular at the time, they decided to wait a few years before releasing it. Whitfield pulled it out of the mothballs after the relative failure of The Temptations' "Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite the World)," which hit #33 in 1970 (unacceptable by their standards). Whitfield felt they needed to change direction to stay on top of the game, so he steered Temptations away from their string of socially relevant songs and had them record this airy ballad. The strategy worked, and the song rose to #1 in America.
This was the last single for the Temptations with Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams in the group. Eddie started a solo career and in 1973 scored his biggest hit with "Keep On Truckin'." Williams remained on salary as an advisor, but was plagued with personal problems - he was separated from his wife, owed back taxes and was being treated for alcoholism. He committed suicide in 1973 at age 34.
This was the third of four #1 hits by the Temptations. The track was released in February 1971, and took off right away, peaking at #1 in April.
The Rolling Stones covered this in 1978 for their album Some Girls
. It wasn't the first time they covered a Temptations song: in 1974 they had a hit with "Ain't Too Proud To Beg
," taking it to #17. That song was a good fit for the group's swaggering rock sound, but without the wistful, lovelorn feel, their take on "Just My Imagination" lost some impact.
"It was anything but romantic," the song's writer Norman Whitfield said in More Songwriters On Songwriting
. "But it did pretty good in the dollars and cents category."