Music

The Temptations – Just My Imagination

About The Song

The Temptations – Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (1970, Vinyl) - Discogs

Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” is a soulful composition by the American group, the Temptations. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, the song was released on the Gordy (Motown) label and produced by Norman Whitfield. It is featured on the group’s 1971 album, Sky’s the Limit. When released as a single, “Just My Imagination” became the third Temptations song to claim the number-one spot on the US Billboard Hot 100.

The single dominated the charts, holding the number one position on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart for two weeks, from March 28 to April 10, 1971. Simultaneously, it also secured the number one spot on the Billboard R&B Singles chart for three weeks, from February 27 to March 20 of the same year.

“Just My Imagination” is widely regarded as one of the Temptations’ signature songs, known for evoking the sound reminiscent of the group’s 1960s recordings. It holds historical significance as the final Temptations single to feature founding members Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams. During the release of the single, Kendricks departed from the group to pursue a solo career, while Williams, facing health issues, had to retire from the act.

In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine recognized “Just My Imagination” by placing it at number 399 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, though it dropped off the list after the 2021 update. The Rolling Stones also covered the song on their 1978 Some Girls album.

A lush orchestral arrangement featuring strings and French horns embellishing a bluesy rhythm track and bass line provides the instrumental backdrop for “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me).” Noted music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine, in his review on allmusic, observes that the song is narrated by a man who envisions a romantic relationship with the woman he loves. Despite his awareness that these daydreams are mere fiction, he finds himself overwhelmed by them. The lyrics poignantly capture the narrator’s resignation to the fantastical nature of his dreams, and the entire composition effectively conveys the emotional impact of these reveries.

The initial verses set the stage, exploring the theme as the narrator dreams of a life with his beloved, envisioning marriage, raising a family, and establishing a home in the country. The bridge introduces an element of doubt, with the narrator expressing a prayer that he will never lose the love of his beloved to another, fearing that such a loss would be devastating. This bridge serves as a pivotal moment in the song, connecting the transition from dream to reality. This transformation is completed in the final lines, which shift from vivid imagery to a straightforward admission: “But in reality / she doesn’t even know me.” According to Erlewine, the Temptations’ performance of the song exudes a dream-like quality, gracefully navigating the singer’s aspirations and desires.

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Lyrics

Each day through my window I watch her as she passes by
I say to myself, “You’re such a lucky guy”
To have a girl like her is truly a dream come true
Out of all the fellows in the world, she belongs to you

But it was just my imagination
Runnin’ away with me
It was just my imagination
Runnin’ away with me

Ooh (Soon)
Soon we’ll be married and raise a family (Oh yeah)
A cozy little home out in the country
With two children, maybe three
I tell you I (I, I) can visualize it all
This couldn’t be a dream, for too real it all seems

But it was just my imagination, once again
Runnin’ away with me
Tell you, it was just my imagination
Runnin’ away with me

Ev’ry night on my knees I pray
“Dear Lord, hear my plea
Don’t ever let another take her love from me”
Or I will surely die, hmm
(Her love is) heavenly
When her arms enfold me
I hear a tender rhapsody
But in reality
She doesn’t even know me

(Just my imagination) Once again
Runnin’ away with me, oh
Tell you it was just my imagination
Runnin’ away with me

I’ve never met her but I can’t forget her
(Just my imagination) Ooh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Runnin’ away with me, ooh
Just my imagination
Runnin’ away with me

She’s never hard to find (Just my imagination)
She’s always on my mind (Runnin’ away with me)

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