Temptations’ Trademark ‘My Girl’ Enters National Recording Registry

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The Temptations - Photo: Motown Records Archives
Photo: Motown Archives

The immortal soul landmark ‘My Girl’ by the Temptations, written by Smokey Robinson, has been selected by the Library of Congress among 2018’s new additions to the National Recording Registry. 25 works are added to the Registry each year for their “cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the American soundscape.” The latest selections, which can be individual songs or entire albums, bring the running total thus honoured to 500.

“I’m totally overwhelmed by ‘My Girl’ receiving such an honour,” said Robinson. “As a songwriter, it has become my international anthem. People in countries where English is not the primary language know and sing ‘My Girl’ when I perform it.”

Released on Motown’s Gordy label on 21 December 1964, ‘My Girl’ was written  by Robinson to showcase the vocal talents of David Ruffin. Produced by Smokey with his fellow Miracles member Ron White, it also features one of the most famous basslines in recording history, in James Jamerson’s introduction, followed by Robert White’s equally recognisable guitar riff. The single reached No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B and pop charts and has become an indelible emblem of Motown’s pre-eminence as well as the Temptations’ calling-card song. 

The works recognised in the 2018 list span a period of some 85 years, starting with Victor Herbert’s ‘Dream Melody Intermezzo’ from 1911 and finishing with the 1996 album Yo-Yo Ma Premieres Concertos for Violoncello and Orchestra. Also featured are such globally renowned recordings as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Bill Haley and His Comets’ ‘(We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock,’ the soundtrack of The Sound Of Music, the 1978 singles ‘The Gambler’ by Kenny Rogers and ‘Le Freak’ by Chic, and Run-DMC’s 1986 album Raising Hell.

Joining them in the National Recording Registry are works by the influential, pre-World War II group the Mississippi Sheiks (with ‘Sitting On Top Of The World,’ later recorded by Cream), groundbreaking composer Steve Reich, country hero Merle Travis and gospel totems Clara Ward and the Ward Singers, among many others.

The full list of 2018 additions to the National Recording Registry is as follows:

Dream Melody Intermezzo: Naughty Marietta’ (single), Victor Herbert and his Orchestra (1911)

Standing Rock Preservation Recordings, George Herzog and Members of the Yanktoni Tribe (1928)

‘Lamento Borincano’ (single), Canario y Su Grupo (1930)

‘Sitting on Top of the World’ (single), Mississippi Sheiks (1930)

The Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas (album), Artur Schnabel (1932-1935)

‘If I Didn’t Care’ (single), The Ink Spots (1939)

Proceedings of the United Nations Conference on International Organization (4/25/45-6/26/45)

‘Folk Songs of the Hills’ (album), Merle Travis (1946)

‘How I Got Over’ (single), Clara Ward and the Ward Singers (1950)

‘(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock’ (single), Bill Haley and His Comets (1954)

‘Calypso’ (album), Harry Belafonte (1956) album.

‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ (single), Tony Bennett (1962)

‘My Girl’ (single), The Temptations (1964)

‘King Biscuit Time’ (radio), Sonny Boy Williamson II and others (1965)

‘The Sound of Music’ (soundtrack), Various (1965)

‘Alice’s Restaurant Massacree’ (single), Arlo Guthrie (1967)

‘New Sounds in Electronic Music’ (album), Steve Reich, Richard Maxfield, Pauline Oliveros (1967)

‘An Evening with Groucho’ (album), Groucho Marx (1972)

‘Rumours,’ (album), Fleetwood Mac (1977)

‘The Gambler’ (single), Kenny Rogers (1978)

‘Le Freak’ (single), Chic (1978)

‘Footloose’ (single), Kenny Loggins (1984) remake released in 2011.

‘Raising Hell’ (album), Run-DMC (1986)

‘Rhythm Is Gonna Get You’ (single), Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine (1987)

‘Yo-Yo Ma Premieres Concertos for Violoncello and Orchestra’ (album), Various (1996)

Explore our Temptations Artist Page.

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