Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)

Album: Diana Ross (1970)
Charted: 33 20
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Songfacts®:

  • This uplifting song was Diana Ross' first single as a solo artist, released on April 6, 1970, just three months after her final show with The Supremes. It was written by the Motown team of Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, who composed 10 of the 11 tracks on her debut album. Most of the songs on that album had already been recorded by other Motown acts, but "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)" was an original. It was a modest hit, reaching #20 on the Hot 100 and #7 R&B, but not the breakout smash Motown boss Berry Gordy was looking for to launch her solo career. The smash was her next single, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough, an Ashford and Simpson composition that was originally recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell in 1967. Ross first recorded that one in 1968 on the album Diana Ross & The Supremes Join the Temptations.
  • This song champions kindness with a gospel vibe that gives it a communal feel, producing a warm, fuzzy feeling. Ross would often use it near the end of her shows to bring the crowd together, encouraging them to sing along at the end. She performed it at the Grammy Awards in 2019 to celebrate her 75th birthday.
  • In 1966, The Four Tops had a huge hit for Motown with "Reach Out I'll Be There, which Ross included on her 1971 album, Surrender. That song has a similar sentiment to "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)," with the singer offering to be there no matter what.
  • When this song was released, The Supremes were entering a new phase of their career, with Jean Terrell replacing Ross. Their first single sans Ross was "Up the Ladder to the Roof," which rose to #10 US on April 18, 1970. Motown head Berry Gordy threw his resources into Ross, giving her top songwriting and production talent and big budgets for her stage shows. At the same time, he skimped on The Supremes, figuring they had a limited future without Ross. It was surprising then, when Ross didn't outchart her former group with her first single. But it didn't take long for Gordy's machinations to play out: Ross quickly rose to superstar status as a solo act, while The Supremes' hits dried up.

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