Where Did Our Love Go

Album: Where Did Our Love Go (1964)
Charted: 3 1


  • The Motown songwriting team of Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland wrote this song, which was offered to another Motown group, The Marvelettes, who turned it down. Holland-Dozier-Holland had Marvelettes lead singer Gladys Horton in mind, but she sang in a lower key than The Supremes lead singer, Diana Ross. This forced Ross to sing in a lower, breathier style than she was used to.

    Lamont Dozier explained in the book Chicken Soup For the Soul: The Story Behind The Song: "I originally cut this track with the Marvelettes in mind. In fact, I cut it in Gladys Horton's key, the lead singer, which was much lower than Diana Ross'. At that time, at Motown, the policy was that the songwriters had to pay for the tracks we cut if it didn't get recorded by one of their artists. It never entered my mind that the Marvelettes wouldn't like the song. I had the chorus and went to the office to talk with Gladys and played it for her. She said, 'Oh, honey, we don't do stuff like that. And it's the worst thing I ever heard.' She was adamant about it. I was shocked.

    I knew I was in deep trouble if I didn't hurry and get someone to do the song because I wasn't about to pay for the track. I went through the Motown artist roster and went all the way to the bottom of the list and there were the Supremes, better known in those days as the 'no hit Supremes.' I told them it was tailor made for them, knowing that they had nothing going on at the time and needed a song. Much to my surprise, they said no. Gladys (Horton of the Marvelettes) told them I was looking for someone to record it. I wasn't giving up. Brian (Holland), Eddie (Holland) and I finally persuaded them to do it, convincing them that it was their saving grace and they couldn't refuse it. We had already had Top 40 hits with Martha & the Vandellas but they hadn't had recordings of any significance yet.

    They were so annoyed that they agreed to do it that, in the studio, they had a really bad attitude. Diana (Ross) said it was in the wrong key, that it was too low. (Of course it was - I wrote it in Gladys' key.) Since the track was already cut, she had to sing it in that key and she'd never sung that low before. It turned out that her bad attitude and the low key were exactly what the song needed! I'd worked out intricate background vocals but the girls refused to learn them. Finally I said, 'Just sing 'Baby, baby, baby'.' It worked to their advantage and worked perfectly.

    They didn't necessarily agree. Diana and I were throwing obscenities back and forth and she went running to Berry (Gordy, Jr.) and told him I said something off-color about him. He came down to the studio to see what was wrong and while he was there, he asked to hear the song. He thought it was really good, but said that he didn't know if it was a hit, but that he thought it would be Top 10.

    The song was released and flew up the charts to #1. From then on, one hit followed another. It was the first of 13 consecutive #1s we did on the Supremes. The next time the Hollands and I saw the girls was at the airport. They were getting off a plane with their Yorkshire terriers, in mink stoles. We started laughing. It was so funny to see them turn into stars overnight."
  • This was the first #1 hit for The Supremes and their first song to chart in the UK. The Supremes had more US #1 hits in the '60s than any other artist, but they weren't instant hitmakers. After eight singles that hadn't achieved much, The Supremes earned the nickname "No-Hit Supremes" at the Motown offices. The group was not impressed when they were offered a song to record that The Marvelettes, the top girl group at Motown at that point, had already rejected, but label head Berry Gordy insisted they record it. The Supremes thought "Where Did Our Love Go" was childish, and after recording it they didn't like the way it turned out, little knowing it was going to be their first big hit.
  • The Motown studios, known as "Hitsville USA," had high ceilings and mahogany wood floors which enhanced the echoes, foot stomps and finger snaps that were part of many of the tunes recorded there. All foot stomps at Hitsville, including those heard on this song, were genuine, and most of the time were done with plywood sheets laying over the floor and picked up with two to three mics, including mics sitting in the rear of the echo chamber. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Colby - Arthur, IL
  • Diana Ross sings the word "baby" 14 times in her lead vocal, but that word is repeated far often in the backing vocals. The backing vocals come in on the fifth line, "You came into my heart so tenderly," and stay throughout the song, repeating the word "baby" a total of 54 times, for a total of 68 in the 2:32 run time. (During live performances, those first four lines seemed excruciating for Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, who had to do some stilted choreography while Ross sang.)

    That's a lot of babys, especially since that word isn't in the title. The Holland-Dozier-Holland team took note - the next song they wrote for The Supremes was "Baby Love," another #1 hit.
  • According to Lamont Dozier, one of his breakups inspired the lyric. He split from a girl who "wanted more from me than a casual fling," and he wasn't ready to make the commitment.

    Playing on the piano, he found the phrase "where did our love go." Said Dozier: "It hit me thinking about how something so strong as love could be so fragile and then go poof, just like that. It's like, where did our love go?" (quotes from Mark Ribowsky's book The Supremes)
  • The recording session for this song took place on April 8, 1964. Musicians included Johnny Griffiths on piano, James Jamerson on bass, Benny Benjamin on drums, and a sax solo from Mike Terry. Some sources claim Jack Ashford played vibraphone. The song was recorded on three tracks: one for rhythm, another for horns, and a third for vocals.
  • As Motown heartbreak songs go, this one packs some heat. Diana Ross is on fire with her burning love, but it's not a healthy relationship - it "stings like a bee." She's ready to surrender to this guy to keep him from leaving. Anything to keep that feeling.
  • The Supremes hated the song but were in no position at that time to turn it down, so they had to record it. Mary Wilson recalled to Billboard magazine in a 2014 interview: "We were a little pissed. It wasn't like a Martha & the Vandellas song. We told Holland-Dozier-Holland to bring on the hits. If we didn't get a hit, our parents were going to make us go to college."

    "I went to Eddie and I cried," she continued. "I told him, 'You don't understand, we've got to get a hit record right now.' He said, 'Don't worry, trust us, this is going to be a smash.'"

    "One of the things we didn't like about it was that Flo and I just had to sing, 'Baby, baby.' We were used to doing intricate harmonic patterns but on this song we didn't do anything."
  • This song was released in June 1964, the same month The Supremes embarked on Dick Clark's Summer Caravan of Stars tour at the bottom of a bill that included Gene Pitney, The Coasters, The Shirelles and The Crystals. During that tour, "Where Did Our Love Go" became climbing the charts, giving the group some status. When Clark launched his Winter tour in November, The Supremes were at the top of the bill.
  • The song got a big boost from a writeup in the July 4, 1964 issue of the music industry trade magazine Billboard, which called it "music to hand-clap and foot-stomp to. Plenty of jump in this one."

    This got the attention of many radio stations, which added the song to their playlists. The following week, the song debuted on the Hot 100 at #77. On August 22, it hit #1, where it stayed for two weeks. "Baby Love" reached the top spot on October 31, followed by "Come See About Me" on December 19.
  • At the invitation of Berry Gordy, Adam Ant performed this in 1983 on the Motown 25th Anniversary TV special - the same show where Michael Jackson did his most famous Moonwalk. Ant was a huge star in England, but little known in the US, especially among the Motown crowd. Midway through the performance, Diana Ross appeared on stage, giving her approval to the British Punk rocker who was perplexing the audience. According to Ant, Michael Jackson called him after the show, asking where he got his costumes.
  • Eddie Holland told Mojo magazine that he wanted Diana Ross to sing the song "lost and innocent." However, she wanted to do the complete opposite. As Ross was in a bad mood, "she deliberately sang it without expression. Deadpan."

    After she'd laid down her vocals, Ross said, sarcastically, "Is that what you want?" It was exactly what Holland was looking for.

Comments: 18

  • Berry Palmer, Jr. from The Dmv (a.k.a. Wash Dc; Md; Va)Two things: Having grown up in D.C., passing the "KoKo Club", where a young pre-Motown Marvin Gaye had once played, and being a "HS quality" musician, you could say that I LOVE MUSIC, all music.

    First thing, this is an outstanding interview of Mr. Dozier. I've seen "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" (a hundred times), and the "Hitsville" documentary (a thousand), but the true phenomenon is that: Berry Gordy, Jr. was able to surround himself with individuals that wanted to learn, believed him to be creditable, and 'listened', which allowed them learn. THIS credibility is usually dramatically absent in 'minority business endeavors'. Of course, now I realize that Berry, at 30 years of age, and already established as a songwriter, was selling his dreams literally to HS "Teenagers", but teenagers with ambition (and varying talent levels) and 'nothing to lose' by cooperating.

    Second thing is, that Henry Ford Industrialized America with his "Assembly Line", and made America (quietly), the Greatest Industrialized Country in the World: Berry Gordy, upon first-hand witnessing the Ford Motor Co. assembly line, with his imagination, has generated the baseline and structure, that possibly supplants the Henry Ford Industrial Model, with truly, by level of difficulty and circumstance, Motown, The World's Greatest Industrialized Achievement. Again, by level of difficulty and circumstances in America. As Smokey intimates:

    There might exist, geographically, the same levels of talent, elsewhere. . . . but they don't have a Berry Gordy, Jr. to put it all together.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1978 {September 6th} the Manhattan Transfer were guests on the CBS-TV weekday-afternoon television program, 'The Merv Griffin Show'...
    The following week their covered version of "Where Did Our Love Go" entered the United Kingdom's Official Top 75 Singles chart at position #63, one week later it would peak at #40 {for 1 week} and it spent four weeks on the Top 75...
    Between 1976 and 1983 the New York City quartet had nine records on the U.K. Singles chart, one made the Top 10 and it reached #1, "Chanson D'Amour", for three weeks on March 6th, 1977 and it stayed on the chart for thirteen weeks...
    Founding member Timothy DuPron Hauser passed away at the age of 72 on October 16th, 2014...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 8th 1964, "Run, Run, Run" by the Supremes entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #100; the following week it rose to #93 and that would also be its last week on the chart...
    "Run, Run, Run" was the trio's fifth Top 100 record, but with their next release they'd be off and running, for "Where Did Our Love Go" would peak at #1 and be the first of their twelve #1 records on the Top 100.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 12th 1964, the Supremes, the Shangri-Las, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Dusty Springfield, and the Temptations appeared in concert at the Fox Theatre* in Brooklyn, New York...
    At the time "Where Did Our Love Go" was at #2 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, "Remember (Walkin’ In the Sand)" was at #9, "I'm On the Outside (Looking In)" was at #29, "Wishin' and Hopin'" was at #30, and the Temps' "Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)" was at #65...
    Also on the same bill were Marvin Gaye, the Ronettes, Millie Small, and the Miracles...
    * The Fox Theater was razed in 1971 and a Consolidated Edison Co. building was constructed on the site.
  • Rick from Belfast, MeThis song always personifies the 1960's......superbly done!!!!!!!
  • Guy from Montréal, QcI read somewhere that the foot-stomping sound was supposed to represent the sound of the boyfriend leaving. In the original stereo version, when this walking sound is repeated with no accompaniment before the last chorus, the sound goes from one speaker to the other perhaps suggesting the lover comes back.
  • John from Nashville, TnThe Marvelettes turned down this song and chose to record "Too Many Fish In The Sea" instead. According to Gladys Horton, the Marvelettes had a strong "we don't take no stuff from men" image (witness their hit song "Playboy")and the group members felt this song would make them feel like pushovers.
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, Caone the Supremes first, and one of their best,
    with that insistant beat and shuffle
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlIn Mary Wilson's book, "Dreamgirl", she describes that when this song was released, she and the other Supremes, Diana Ross and Flo Ballard were on tour with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars - with every city they toured in, they noticed the applause getting louder and wilder, and they stood in the wings behind the stage, paralyzed with disbelief- by the time they returned back to Detroit, they had the number one song in the country.
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlHolland-Dozier-Holland already had the instrumental track cut for this song when they played it for Marvelettes lead singer Gladys Horton and her groupmates - they instantly nixed on the song, thinking it was too childish and babyish to their ears - instead, they opted to record a Norman Whitfield tune entitled "Too Many Fish In The Sea".
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlIn Mary Wilson's book, "Dreamgirl", she describes that when this song was released, she and the other Supremes, Diana Ross and Flo Ballard were on tour with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars - with every city they toured in, they noticed the applause getting louder and wilder, and they stood in the wings behind the stage, paralyzed with disbelief- by the time they returned back to Detroit, they had the number one song in the country.
  • Kristin from Bessemer, AlThe "clop-clop" intro at the beginning of the song was done by a 17-year old Italian-American named Mike Valvano, using two pieces of plywood-
  • Jim from Dearborn Heights , MiYes this was their first number one people may not be aware that their success did not come overnight they sighed with Motown in January of 1961 as The Primettes sister group to the Primes who became The Temptations they were ready to release a record and Berry Gordy had wanted them to change their name to something else and Florence Ballard was the only one their at the time she was given a piece of paper with ten names on it and she picked The Supremes because she said she liked it and it was different then all the other names she saw and it took them to 1964 to get a number one hit song but once they did they could not be stopped the songs and hits kept coming and coming
  • Danielle from Maplewood, Njbut also counted those in the UK which i think was only yellow submarine, eleanor rigby, lady madonna, and the ballad of john and yoko.
  • Bob from Los Angeles, MsThe Beatles had the most US number one hits in the 60s (at least 15).
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoThere should be a box set of #1 hits that were originally hated by the artists who recorded them. I saw some rockumentary footage of one of the Supremes saying they wanted strong sounding material like what Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were getting hits with (Heat Wave). I can understand their sentiment, this song is so fragile and ephemeral, it's like it's barely there. Ironically, the Vandellas later had a hit with a Holland-Dozier-Holland song that had more of this type of lighter, airier feel, Jimmy Mack.
  • Nathan from L-burg, Kysoft cell covered this in 1981 on the same track as tainted love
  • Hugh from Dallas, TxOriginally written for the Marvelettes, who passed on it thinkng it was too childlish for their more sophisticated style.
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