Title: Where Did Our Love Go
Artist: The Supremes
Album: Where Did Our Love Go
In August of 1964, The Supremes scored the first of five consecutive number one singles, including "Where Did Our Love Go," "Baby Love," "Come See About Me," "Stop! In the Name of Love," and "Back in My Arms Again." Every one of them was written and produced by the Motown songwriting team known as Holland-Dozier-Holland (Lamont Dozier and Holland brothers Brian and Edward, Jr.). Even if they had stopped right then and there, this trio would be worthy of honorable mention. But they went on to pen such classics as "Baby I Need Your Lovin'," "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)," "You Can't Hurry Love," "Reach Out I'll Be There," "You Keep Me Hangin' On," and "I Hear a Symphony." And those are just the highlights through 1966!
Spotlighting Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1964 is significant not just because of their overwhelming success but also because the music industry was about to undergo a dramatic change with regard to songwriting. The model that had been built around publishing companies and in-house studio songwriters was shaken by the arrival of The Beatles, who proved to be not just accomplished performers but excellent songwriters in their own right. They are really one of the first big acts to assume this double duty and it would become the new standard. Today, with the exception of certain high profile vocal talent, it's almost an expectation that musical artists compose their own material. (A quick survey of the #1 pop chart singles of 2011 finds only Britney Spears and Rihanna without a writer's credit. The list includes Adele, Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Wiz Khalifa, all of whom at least co-wrote their hits.) This is especially the case in the indie and rock worlds where outside songwriters would seem almost unthinkable.
Of course, the irony is that The Beatles cut their teeth playing covers of so many great American songwriters, including some who wrote for Motown (although they tended more toward Smokey Robinson). There's no question that this experience influenced their songwriting and arranging. So here's to Holland-Dozier-Holland for creating some of the masterpieces of pop and for leaving a lasting songwriting legacy! See you tomorrow in 1974.