Martha Reeves and the Vandellas: Third Finger Left Hand (1967)

 |   |  1 min read

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas: Third Finger Left Hand (1967)

Beyonce's thrilling Bollywood-influenced dancefloor hit Single Ladies; Put a Ring On It reminded of the long tradition of songs about wedding rings, or the lack of them, or how tarnished a memory can be . . .

Elsewhere has already posted a number of such songs: Gary Lewis and the Playboys' pop hit This Diamond Ring and Freda Payne exceptional and ambiguous Band of Gold.

And into this lineage we now acknowledge the great Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Although best known for the clarion cry to a generation with Dancing in the Streets (which also became a socio-political text) and the dancefloor fillers Nowhere to Run and Heatwave, their star was steadly falling as the Sixties rolled on.

But they had one last decent chart success with the poppy Jimmy Mack which had been previously recorded in 1964 but went unissued until Berry Gordy felt the time was right in early '67. Then the lyric about a long gone or distant lover took on new meaning with so many black soldiers in Vietnam.

On the flipside however was Third Finger Left Hand, the title of which it also shared with a 1940s romantic comedy. In many ways it is a fairly standard slice of Motown pop and the romantic sentiment seemed a little passe in 1967.

Yet it is exactly that kind of sentiment which also makes it timeless.

As long as there are people wanting to get married this song will always have a place, just as when people separate or have troubles in the marital bed This Diamond Ring and Band of Gold will make sense too. 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Sam Gopal: Escalator (1969)

Sam Gopal: Escalator (1969)

Everyone has to start somewhere, and most diehard Motorhead fans can tell you their mainman, the legendary Lemmy, was in the psychedelic spacerock outfit Hawkwind before he was kicked out for... > Read more

Bunny Wailer:Amagideon/Armagedon (1976)

Bunny Wailer:Amagideon/Armagedon (1976)

As Bob Marley was advancing a more light-filled, if still serious, face of Rastafarianism into the world, it fell to deep roots groups like Culture, the great Burning Spear and Bob's old bandmate... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

1950s RADIO IN COLOUR; THE LOST PHOTOGRAPHS OF DEEJAY TOMMY EDWARDS by CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY

1950s RADIO IN COLOUR; THE LOST PHOTOGRAPHS OF DEEJAY TOMMY EDWARDS by CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY

Cleveland, Ohio has a formidable reputation as a rock'n'roll city -- today it is the home of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and Museum -- but you'd have to guess there was more to it than just that... > Read more

Donovan: Troubadour; The Definitive Collection 1964-76 (1998 compilation)

Donovan: Troubadour; The Definitive Collection 1964-76 (1998 compilation)

When I interviewed Donovan in 1998 -- mindful I might have to introduce him to a readership which had probably never heard of him -- I noted that even back in his heyday of the Sixties he'd been a... > Read more