There aren’t a lot of songs that mention a specific date unrelated to any historical event. Ode To Billie Joe comes to mind (It was the 3rd of June another sleepy dusty delta day), and the Temptations ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’.
Even though ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’ became The Temptations final #1 hit (4 #1’s in all), it had everything going against it. It didn’t sound like anything The Temptations had recorded previously. The original version ran almost 12 minutes, and even the edited single clocked in at just under 7 minutes.
How it got by the quality control committee was a question that had puzzled me until I asked original Temptations member Otis Williams about it. I started off by asking him why the normally micro managing Motown founder Barry Gordy allowed its release of the Norman Whitfield production.
This is what Otis told me.
Here’s the original single version –
And if you haven’t heard the full version, check this out.