Reflections

Album: Reflections (1967)
Charted: 5 2
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  • "Reflections" was written by the Motown songwriting team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland. In a Songfacts interview with Dozier, he explained: "It's about when the love has gone bad, or when things have changed in life. One thing in life that's ever changing is tomorrow is always different from today. Things change for many reasons, and you have to be aware of why, and what is happening around you. You have to adapt to the changes in life. That's what that was about: your reflection on how things used to be, can be and will be, hopefully.

    It's all about hope, too. The main theme of that song is hope: although things have come to pass, you have to start changing, remembering the old to get involved with a new approach in life."
  • This song tells the story of a woman who looks back in anguish at her lost love, wondering what could have been had things worked out. But the song was directed in some ways at Motown head Barry Gordy, with the same sentiment.

    Starting with "Where Did Our Love Go" in 1964, the Holland-Dozier-Holland team wrote nine #1 hits for The Supremes as well as many big songs for The Four Tops, Martha & the Vandellas, and several other acts on the label. After a few years of runaway success, the three writers demanded publishing rights to their songs, but were rebuffed by Gordy. This was when they wrote "Reflections," which pleased Gordy by providing yet another hit for The Supremes, but portended the departure of Holland-Dozier-Holland, who left a short time later, breaking their contract in the process. The legal tussle between Gordy and his former star writers stretched on for many years.
  • Sonically, this was a departure for The Supremes, with no saxophone or prominent electric guitar backbeat. It retained the sturdy bassline of James Jamerson, but featured a Wurlitzer electric piano by Earl Van Dyke and tambourine by Jack Ashford. Pistol Allen was the drummer and Joe Messina added guitar. The oscillator-generated sound effects also appear throughout the track.
  • This was the first foray for The Supremes into psychedelic pop, a sound fully realized by The Beatles a month earlier when they released their Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

    "Reflections" has some mind-bending lyrics:

    Trapped in a world
    that's a distorted reality


    It also opens with some trippy sound effects that were created with a custom oscillator designed by one of The Funk Brothers, who were session musicians for most Motown songs of the period. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ekristheh - Halath
  • This was released during The Summer of Love (1967) when the Vietnam War was raging. This made it an appropriate choice for the theme song of the TV series China Beach, which was set in Vietnam during the war. The series ran on ABC from 1988-1991. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Laura - El Paso, TX
  • After this song was recorded, the group's name was changed to Diana Ross and the Supremes, something the other Supremes were not happy about. This was their first song to be released under that name. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jerro - New Alexandria, PA
  • This was one of the last Supremes songs founding member Florence Ballard sang on. She was replaced by Cindy Birdsong a short time after it was released.
  • Diana Ross loves this song. When the Supremes re-formed in 2000, they used this to open their Return To Love tour. Ross also sang it on her 2004 European tour. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Williamson Henderson - Manhattan, NY, United States
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Comments: 22

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 3rd 1967, the Supremes performed "Reflections" on the CBS-TV program 'The Tennessee Ernie Ford TV Special'...
    Exactly three months earlier on September 3rd, 1967 the song was at #2 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart {see next post below}...
    Cindy Birdsong appeared on the show as a member of the trio, but Florence Ballard performed on the record that charted...
    At the time of the 'Ford' show the trio's "In and Out of Love" was in its first of two weeks at #9 on the Top 100, and that was also its peak position on the chart.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 12th 1967, Diana Ross & the Supremes performed "Reflections" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...One week earlier on August 6th, 1967 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #61; and on September 3rd, 1967 it peaked at #2 {for 2 weeks} and spent 11 weeks on the Top 100...It reached #4 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...The record ended the string of four straight #1 records by the trio on the Top 100 chart; started with "You Can't Hurry Love" {2 weeks}, "You Keep Me Hangin' On" {2 weeks}, "Love Is Here and Now You're Gone" {1 week}, and finally "The Happening" {1 week}...The two weeks it was at #2 on the Top 100, the #1 record for both those weeks was "Ode to Billy Joe" by Bobbie Gentry.
  • Randy from Fayettevile, ArThis was such a huge hit in 1967. I do recall that Cashbox had it as a #1 hit as well as Song Hits. Back then, I didn't pay much attention to Billboard's charts. And I believe it was also a #1 R&B hit on Cashbox & Song Hits too. I still have my 45 rpm single of this hit and it shows "Diana Ross and The Supremes." It was a big solid hit for them. When it hit #1 on one of the Kansas City rock radio stations it was the same day I got my military draft notice!! Not every good news as the Vietnam War was going full-tilt at the time. But this song reminds me of good times in college and my friends there. It's a serious song packed with emotion & I believe that's why it became such a huge hit. It connected with so many young people at the time & their emotions.
    ''
  • Camille from Toronto, OhPure platinum is right! I agree with Brian of Sheffield, England's comments. It was the perfect theme song to "China Beach".
  • Zero from Nowhere, NjI think the rock band Incubus sampled the opening noise from this song in 1999 on their song "Stellar" (one of the band members is a turntabelist).
  • Phil from Berkeley, CaMy friend was an engineer at Motown and worked on 56 #1 singles. He told me that Motown bought one of the first 10 Moog synthesizers. It can be heard on Reflections as a bleep sound every now and then rhythmically. It could only play one mono note at a time. This is the first use of a synthesizer on a hit record. Rockncabby in Berkeley
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThis was the only Supreme song that was a 'Bridesmaid'; it only peaked to #2, but I don't think they felt too bad considering that they had a total of 11 records that reached #1 {hence the all-time greatest female group in rock history}
  • Williamson Henderson from Manhattan, Ny"Song-facts" surprisingly has the artist wrong for "Reflections" as "The Supremes" when the historical fact, as pointed out by several commentators here, is that the artist is decisively -- and for the first time -- "DIANA ROSS & The Supremes". (editor's note - we list the Diana Ross & The Supremes songs as "The Supremes" to make them easier for readers to find and cross reference, usually mentioning the proper name in the Songfacts)
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlAt a time when a lot of artists, writers and producers were experimenting with weird and harsh sounds in their records, (mainly for gimmick purposes), this song incorporates those sounds magnificently and still maintain that good Motown sound-
  • Bob from Southfield, MiThis song was an attempt by Motown to cash in on the Psychodelic sound of 1967. When it was first released, the local disc jockey's on Detroit radio referred to it as "psychodelic soul".
  • Rick from San Francisco, CaActually, the statement about "the first one without Florence Ballard" is incorrect. Ballard *is* on this song, although it was released after she was fired. Birdsong sang it in all of the televised performances of 1967.

    Source "Dreamgirl My Life as a Supreme" hardcover pg.204.
  • Andre from The Bronx, NyDiana Ross *& The Supremes have a great collection of videos of several of their performances on DVD. It is appropriately entitled "Reflections"! -- Dre
  • Mary S. Twist from Succasunna, NjAlthough this popular hit song was blockaded at #2 on Billboard's charts, "Reflections" was #1 at Cash Box's charts and at Record World. The song was #1 on all radio stations and local charts in the big cities and other regional areas. Motown Records included "Reflections" in the cd "The Supremes #1 Hits". I believe that it is one of Diana & The Supremes songs that is their most beautiful.
  • Andre from The Bronx, Ny"Reflections" written by H/D/H is one of the most interesting and life reflective songs by anyone. It is convincingly and beautifully sung by the one and only Diana Ross.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaI agree, Ekristheh. Those psychedelic oscillator sounds are like little gems you anticipate as you listen to the song.
  • Williamson Henderson from Manhattan, NyWCBS-FM (101.1) radio in NY/CT/NJ had their new "Top 500 Songs Countdown". Not only was "Reflections" on the list but it surpassed all of The Supremes' songs except "Baby Love". The survey completed by millions of radio listeners showed that with the passage of time "Reflections" continues to grow -- almost the all-time #1 Diana Ross & The Supremes song.

    BTW, the 3rd-placing best Supremes song on the top 500 list was the great "You Keep Me Hangin' On". Fourth was "Love Child". Fifth was "Symphony". To see the entire list, go to: http://www.WCBSFM.com

    For more DRS 411 and to see the "Reflections" album cover, please visit:
    http://www.STONEWALLvets.org/songsofStonewall-6.htm
  • Jim from Dearborn Heights, MiAlso this song was the first song under the name Diana Ross And The Supremes and the first one without Florence Ballard the last album she was on was Diana Ross And The Supremes Greatest Hits Volume one and two Cindy Birdsong replaced her
  • Tony from Seattle, WaA lot of amazing stuff going on in the background. Payoffs hilited by some high-pitches that give goosebumps. When last heard, swear I heard an accordian towards the end.
  • Brian from Sheffield, EnglandUndoubtedly one of the finest and most memorable pop songs of the 60s - pure platinum!
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesThe distinctive "psychedelic" electronic sound effects on this are to die for. Never heard anything like it before or since.
  • Bkgirl_n_sc from Brooklyn, NyThis song was used as the opening theme song for the 90s ABC series "China Beach" which was about the Vietnam War.
  • Deana from Indianapolis, InThis song was the opening theme for China Beach
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