Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong were busy and successful music pros who wrote a lot of memorable songs for the Temptations. But one that they avoided for a couple of years would end up as a #1 hit for the group and become a signature song.
Written in 1969, “just My Imagination” was a ballad, and the Temptations sound was mostly about psychedelic soul at that point. The song would have fit in just fine a few years earlier, but they’d moved on by then — or thought they had.
As it turned out, things were changing. The original group was about to dissolve — Paul Williams was chronically ill and Eddie Kendricks was planning a solo career. For their final recording session the group dusted off the ballad that had been ignored for a couple of years. It became one of their most memorable hit records.
Although it was a song closely identified with the group, other artists have covered it in with varying degrees of success, including the Rolling Stones. My favorite alternate version was from the soundtrack of the 2000 movie, Duets. It featured Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds and actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who does a pretty good job.