It's the Same Old Song

Album: Four Tops' Second Album (1965)
Charted: 34 5

Songfacts®:

  • This was the follow-up to The Four Tops' big hit "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)," which spent two weeks at #1 in the US. Both songs were written by the Motown songwriting/production team of Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland and Eddie Holland, who were the right guys to call for a hit on short notice.

    It's common practice for groups to record a sound-alike to capitalize on the success of a hit, but this one is so similar that even the title is a nod to its similarity - it's "the same old song." But there's a reason why Holland-Dozier-Holland are one of the most successful songwriting teams ever assembled: even their knock-off hits had deeper meanings, and in this case it's a song about heartache, as The Tops sing about hearing a song a different way after a breakup. Many listeners who felt the "sugar pie, honey bunch" of "I Can't Help Myself" was a little too sweet preferred the more poignant lyrics of "It's the Same Old Song."
  • In an interview with Performing Songwriter magazine, Lamont Dozier explained how this song came together: "I took the bass figure in 'I Can't Help Myself' and turned it around. The chords were different, but basically we kept the same feeling. It worked."
  • The Four Tops were signed to Columbia Records in 1960, releasing just one single - "Ain't That Love" (written by their lead singer, Levi Stubbs) - before moving on to Riverside Records and eventually joining Motown in 1963. As "I Can't Help Myself" was coming off the charts, word got out that Columbia was going to re-release "Ain't That Love" to capitalize on the group's sudden success. Motown head Berry Gordy made a big push to thwart this, and put the rush on a new song. Fortunately, Holland-Dozier-Holland were very good at reworking their hits - they did it the previous year when they followed up their Martha & The Vandellas smash "Heat Wave" with the copycat "Quicksand." The Four Tops were also up for the task, as they were one of the most seasoned Motown acts.

    HDH quickly wrote the song, and on Thursday, July 8, it was furiously recorded and pressed. It was delivered to radio stations the next day, and by that Monday, it was in stores.

    Columbia did issue "Ain't That Love," but it stalled at #93 on the Hot 100.
  • In 1997, The Four Tops starred in a commercial for Velveeta, where they reworked this song as "Not the Same Old Side." Sample lyric: "for a side dish made to please, you only want Velveeta shells and cheese."

Comments: 5

  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaMy fav Tops tune. And I just loved the Funk Brothers playing on this song. The title reminds me of those of the Funks who are now no longer with us.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 2nd 1965, the Four Tops performed "It's the Same Old Song" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!'...
    Three months earlier on July 25th, 1965 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #54; and on August 22nd, 1965 it peaked at #5 {for 2 weeks} and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100 {it was at #38 on its 9th and last week on the Top 100}...
    And on September 5th, 1965 it reached #2 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's R&B Singles chart {the two weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" by James Brown}...
    Sadly, three of the four members have passed away; Levi Stubbs {1936 - 2008}, Renaldo 'Obie' Benson {1936- 2005}, & Lawrence Payton {1938 - 1997} and Abdul 'Duke' Fakir will celebrate his 79th birthday the day after Christmas {December 26th, 2014}...
    May the 'soulful' three R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 3rd 1978, K.C. & the Sunshine Band performed their covered version of "It's The Same Old Song" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    One month earlier on May 7th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #83; and on June 25th it peaked at #35 (for 1 week) and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
    It peaked at #30 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Thirteen years earlier on July 25th, 1965 the original version by the Four Tops entered the Top 100; it peaked at #5 (for 2 weeks) on August 22nd, 1965.
  • Fred from Laurel, MdThese guys were absolute dynamite, in an era of dynamite bands!
  • Fred from Laurel, MdNB: According to your lyrics page on "I Can't Help Myself," it was penned, not by the legendary Holland, Dozier, & Holland, but by Allen, Allen, & Slack.
    So one of the two is in error -- that one or this.
    From the 2nd Songfact up here, it sounds as if this one is right and the other one is wrong. But Lamont could be talking about re-working a song someone else wrote, I suppose.
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