The Four Tops – It’s The Same Old Song – TMG 528
August 1965 drew to a close with the release of this classic by the UK Tamla Motown label, which reached number 34 in the UK chart.
Written and produced by Motown’s prolific production team of Holland–Dozier–Holland, the song is today one of The Four Tops’ best known songs. What is not so well known was that it was created – from initial concept to commercial release – in 24 hours.
After the Motown success of “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” June 1965, The Four Tops’ former US label, re-released their 1960 Columbia single “Ain’t That Love”. Berry Gordy ordered that a new Four Tops single had to be released within a day’s time.
At 3-o’clock PM that afternoon, the Holland brothers and Lamont Dozier wrote “It’s the Same Old Song”. Abdul “Duke” Fakir, the Four Tops tenor recalled:
Songwriter, Lamont Dozier and I were both a little tipsy and he was changing the channels on the radio. He said, ‘It sounds like the same old song.’ And then he said, “Wait a minute.” So he took “I Can’t Help Myself” and reversed it using the same chord changes. The next day, we went to the studio and recorded it, and then they put it on acetate and released to radio stations across the country.
The Motown technicians then worked around the clock perfecting the single’s mix and making hand-cut vinyl records so that Berry Gordy’s sister Esther who ran Artist Development department could choose the best for single release. By 3 P.M. the next day, 1500 copies of “It’s the Same Song” had been delivered to radio DJs across the country, and the song eventually made it to number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart .
The song itself stuck to the Motown formula of “keeping it similar”. “It’s the Same Old Song” is very similar in melody and chord progressions to “I Can’t Help Myself”, which in turn is even more similar in melody and chord progressions to “Where Did Our Love Go” by the Supremes.
John Lennon sang a bit of the song in The Beatles annual Christmas Message for 1965.