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 (about impotency on a wedding night, a rare topic in pop!)

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, as well as their superb anti-Vietnam War song I Should Be Proud.

Their star had been steadily falling as the Sixties rolled on however.

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.

This is an excellent overview of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas career. 

 

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

Bunny Walters: To be Free with Labour (year unknown)

Bunny Walters: To be Free with Labour (year unknown)

Right now in New Zealand it is the run-up to the election and -- unlike in what some of like to call "the old days" -- none of the main parties seem to have a high-profile election song.... > Read more

The Funky Kings: Singing in the Streets (1976)

The Funky Kings: Singing in the Streets (1976)

So just how pervasive was Bruce Springsteen's influence? One listen to this track by the short-lived Funky Kings from LA would suggest that even by his second album he'd managed to infiltrate the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE BARGAIN BUY: Various Artists; 100 Hits, American Songbooks

THE BARGAIN BUY: Various Artists; 100 Hits, American Songbooks

What with Rod Stewart's enormously successful series Great American Songbook, some might be asking . . . just what is in this "songbook"? Fair question because it does seem bottomless... > Read more

THE ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: APRA Silver Scroll nominee 2012 Anna MacDonald (Annah Mac)

THE ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: APRA Silver Scroll nominee 2012 Anna MacDonald (Annah Mac)

The annual APRA Silver Scroll award acknowledges excellence in songwriting, so at Elsewhere we modified our Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire and tailored it to be specifically about the craft of... > Read more