Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing

Album: You're All I Need (1967)
Charted: 34 8

Songfacts®:

  • This was written and produced by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, who worked on much of the material for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Motown founder Berry Gordy wasn't impressed with the Ashford & Simpson songwriting duo after hearing their breakout hit, Ray Charles' "Let's Go Get Stoned." He told them Motown was all about class acts like Diana Ross, the Temptations and Marvin Gaye. The couple, however, wouldn't take no for an answer. They returned home, locked themselves in a room and didn't emerge until they were ready to wow Gordy with "Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing."

    The song explains how it's better to have loved ones nearby rather than materialistic items and memories as totems.
  • Shortly after recording this song, Tammi Terrell collapsed onstage during a performance with Gaye in 1967. The diagnosis was a brain tumor. She died March 16, 1970. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Laura - Dallas, TX
  • Donnie and Marie Osmond recorded this in 1977. Their version hit #21 in the US.
  • This was used in TV commercials for Just For Men hair coloring and for Mercury vehicles. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Aretha Franklin recorded this for her 1974 album Let Me In Your Life and won the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

Comments: 3

  • George from Louisville, Ky2 sweet voices putting it all together. Doesn't get any better than that.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhMarvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell---born to sing together. Their voices are like the equivalent vocal candy mixture of peanut butter & chocolate, so sweet and satisfying together! I can still picture Tammi Terrell in her green tent dress from the 60s on the cover of their albumn. Great song. Great albumn.
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdMichael McDonald also did a version of this on his Motown tribute CD... quite a shame about his duet partner (Marvin's though)
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Justin TimberlakeFact or Fiction

Was Justin the first to be Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher? Did Britney really blame him for her meltdown? Did his bandmates think he was gay?

Church LyricsMusic Quiz

Here is the church, here is the steeple - see if you can identify these lyrics that reference church.

Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining VictimsSong Writing

Just like Darrin was replaced on Bewitched, groups have swapped out original members, hoping we wouldn't notice.

Best Band LogosSong Writing

Queen, Phish and The Stones are among our picks for the best band logos. Here are their histories and a design analysis from an expert.

Booker T. JonesSongwriter Interviews

The Stax legend on how he cooked up "Green Onions," the first time he and Otis Redding saw hippies, and if he'll ever play a digital organ.

Maria MuldaurSongwriter Interviews

The "Midnight At The Oasis" singer is an Old Time gal. She talks about her jug band beginnings and shares a Dylan story.