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

World Saxophone Quartet: Take the A Train (1986)

World Saxophone Quartet: Take the A Train (1986)

One of the most innovative and sometimes daring jazz groups around, World Saxophone Quartet was an implosion of individual talents: Julius Hemphill (alto), Oliver Lake (alto), David Murray (tenor)... > Read more

George Harrison: When We Was Fab (1987)

George Harrison: When We Was Fab (1987)

Among the many seeming ironies of George Harrison's long career was that, despite being the Beatle who most wanted out of people's expectations of what that meant, he would frequently draw on that... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Florian Ross

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Florian Ross

German pianist and composer Florian Ross has done it all, from solo piano recordings through to big bands with a little organ-fronted trio along the way. He studied in Cologne, London and... > Read more

Jethro Tull, Al Stewart: Hanging on the telephone.

Jethro Tull, Al Stewart: Hanging on the telephone.

Rock journalists in this country need little reminding that we live a long way from the action. But the reminders come every time a record company or promoter says that deathless phrase,... > Read more