I Hear A Symphony

Album: I Hear a Symphony (1965)
Charted: 39 1

Songfacts®:

  • In this song, The Supremes are so smitten that every time the guy comes around, it's like he has his own sweet theme music. Lamont Dozier, who wrote and produced the song with his partners Eddie and Brian Holland, told the story in a Songfacts interview: "I used to go to the movies and I would see that the main stars had their own theme songs. When they appeared on the screen, you would hear this melody behind them - they had their own little melody each time they appeared in the movie. So the lyrics, 'Whenever you are near, I hear a symphony,' it was about this guy. Whenever he came around, in her mind she got this feeling and she heard this melody. He brought out the music in her."
  • This was written by the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, who wrote five consecutive #1 hits for The Supremes, starting with "Where Did Our Love Go." Their next single was "Nothing But Heartaches," which brought the streak to an end when it peaked at #11, but they went right back to the top with the next one, "I Hear A Symphony."

    Most of these chart-toppers had an element of heartbreak in the lyric, but "Back in My Arms Again (their fifth #1) and "I Hear A Symphony" are about the happiness and ecstasy of pure true love.
  • You won't hear a full symphony orchestra in this song, but there is a prominent string section, arranged by Paul Riser, that implies it. Otherwise, the instrumentation is more typical, with a saxophone section and piano (played by Funk Brother Earl Van Dyke). The song evokes classical music in its structure though, building throughout to a kind of crescendo.
  • Brian Holland, who wrote the song with his brother Eddie and their songwriting partner Lamont Dozier, had an affair with Diana Ross in the early '60s. It was a very emotional time for him, and a lot of those feelings came out in this song. In the book The Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success and Betrayal, he revealed that the song never got to him until the '80s, when he was driving one day and the song came on the radio. "I hadn't had any emotional reaction to it before that. It took 25 years for it to sink in how good that song is," he said. "Things were happening in our lives by then, Eddie's and mine, that began to creep into the songs. Those songs were supposed to be about simple things. And at the beginning, they were. It was 'baby this, baby that.' But when I hear something like 'Symphony,' man, there ain't nothing simple about it."
  • Lamont Dozier had a crush on a girl named Bernadette, who he cites as inspiration for this song. She also inspired the Four Tops' "Bernadette."

    "It was a feeling I had as a kid," he recalled to The Guardian. "Whenever she was around, I felt uplifted."
  • "A Lover's Concerto" by the girl group The Toys was in influence on this track. The song adapted the Bach composition "Minuet In G," incorporating classical music into a pop song. The Toys were unknown and the song was released on a small label called DynaVoice, so it took a while to climb the charts. The Motown machine moved quickly; "A Lover's Concerto" spent three weeks at #2 starting on October 30, 1965, held off by "Get Off of My Cloud" by The Rolling Stones. "I Hear A Symphony" knocked The Stones out of the top spot on November 20 and remained at #1 for two weeks.

Comments: 4

  • Michael from Buckeye, AzYes, Diana did mess up the first few lines on "Mike Douglas" but in doing so, proved that it was not a lip syncing effort before a live studio (and TV) audience. Also, give Mary and Florence credit for staying on cue helping Diana (who remained professional and not let the mistake get out of control) find a place to recover (that's teamwork there!).

    On a side note, this also shows that Florence provided the vocals on this tune which sound like those on "My World Is Empty Without You." The extended remix 2012 versions of IHAS and MWIEWY have the backing vocals much more clearer and stronger. Especially with MWIEWY when the music is lower and the vocals are more frequent and on their own (without the lead).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 17th 1965, the Houston Astrodome in Texas hosted its first concert; the headliner was Judy Garland and the opening act were the Supremes...
    At the time the Supremes’ "I Hear a Symphony" was at #5 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and thirty-three days earlier on November 14th, 1965 it had peaked at #1 for two weeks...
    {See the next posted below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 23th 1965, "I Hear A Symphony" by the Supremes entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #39; and just 3 weeks later on November 14th, 1965 it would peak at #1 {for 2 weeks} and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
    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 "I Got You (I Feel Good)" by James Brown ...
    The eight records that succeeded it on the Top 100 all made the Top 10 and four of them peaking at #1...
    As already stated, the record that proceeded on the Top 100, "Nothing But Heartaches", failed to make the Top 10, but it didn't miss by much, it peaked at #11.
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlWhen the Supremes presented this song on "The Mike Douglas Show" on November 3, 1965, Diana flubbed the first few lines, and then, within 30 seconds of singing the song, she was right back on track with the words.
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