Song of the Week – Ball of Confusion, The Temptations


I’m very conscious of saturating the SotW with the same artists. Even mainstays such as The Beatles, Stones, Dylan or Led Zeppelin have only been featured three or four times each over the 10 years I’ve been working on this project. So it feels a little funny to be writing about The Temptations for the second time in three weeks!

But right after I posted “I Wish It Would Rain” on February 10th, I learned that the Temps singer Dennis Edwards had died on February 1st at the age of 74 – just two days before his 75th birthday.

Although he was not one of the original members of the group, he was one of the lead singers on many of their late ‘60s/early’70s “psychedelic” period hits including “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” (Edwards has the line “It was the third of September…”), “Cloud Nine” (lead), and “Psychedelic Shack.”

Edwards was long a part of the Motown family, taking the lead on The Contours’ 1962 hit “Do You Love Me.” It was later made popular with a new generation when it was featured in the movie Dirty Dancing (1987).

Edwards had the unenviable position of replacing the popular David Ruffin when he was kicked out The Temptations in 1968. Edwards often had to endure audiences calling out “Where’s David?” The task was made more difficult because Ruffin was known to occasionally show up at Temptations gigs and disrupt Edwards’ performances – trying to take back the spotlight he once commanded.

Despite this difficult task, Edwards was an important contributor during a very successful period for the group. Beside the songs mentioned above, he also sang lead or key parts in more hits like “Shakey Ground,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” and today’s SotW, “Ball of Confusion.”

“Ball of Confusion” reached #3 on the Billboard pop chart in 1970. It’s another example of soul/funk music moving into more socially conscious lyrics – a trend begun by Marvin Gaye and Sly & the Family Stone.

All of the songs mentioned in today’s post are worthy of being the SotW. So get onto Spotify or YouTube and check them all out,

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – I Wish it Would Rain, The Temptations


This weekend marks the 10 year anniversary for the SotW. Wow, over 500 postings (almost 700 songs) without ever missing a week. Thank you all for your feedback and encouragement.

It also marks the 50th anniversary of an important milestone in my life as a music lover. You see, 50 years ago this week my parents threw a party for my 12th birthday at the roller skating rink they owned and operated. I invited my entire 6th grade class which was about 40 kids. (Yes, we had large class sizes at the parochial school I attended.)

Many of my classmates gifted me records, supporting my growing interest in music. The records I received were on the Top 40 of New York’s 77 – WABC, the most popular station of the day. The link below is to the survey of what was hot that week:

77 WABC Music Survey, Ferruary 13, 2018

I had almost all of the Top 20 records and I’ll select one for today’s SotW. Coming in at #8 that week was “I Wish it Would Rain” by the Temptations.

“… Rain” features another outstanding, plaintive vocal by the great but flawed David Ruffin. The music, fitting for the sentiment of the song, is supplied by Motown’s house band, The Funk Brothers.

The lyrics were written by Roger Penzabene after discovering that his wife was cheating on him.

Sunshine, blue skies, please go away
A girl has found another and gone away
With her went my future, my life is filled with gloom
So day after day I stay locked up in my room
I know to you, it might sound strange
But I wish it would rain, oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

‘Cause so badly I wanna go outside (such a lovely day)
But everyone knows that a man ain’t supposed to cry
Listen, I gotta cry ’cause crying eases the pain, oh yeah
People this hurt I feel inside
Words could never explain,
I just wish it would rain, oh let it rain, rain, rain, rain, ooo baby

Day in day out my tear-stained face
Pressed against the window pane
My eyes search the skies desperately for rain
‘Cause rain drops will hide my tear drops
And no one will ever know that I’m crying
Crying when I go outside
To the world outside my tears
I refuse to explain, ooo I wish it would rain, ooh, baby

Let it rain, let it rain
I need rain to disguise the tears in my eyes
Oh, let it rain
Oh yeah, yeah, listen
I’m a man and I got my pride
‘Til it rains I’m gonna stay inside, let it rain

Can you feel his pain!?! It turns out Penzabene was hurting so bad that he took his own life in desperation on New Year’s Eve 1967, a week after the single was released. Damn!

The song has been covered by many singers, most of them soul artists. To my ear, the most interesting cover was by the Faces with Rod Stewart taking the lead vocal. It’s worth checking out if you’ve never heard it.

Enjoy… until next week.