There’s often something weird about 60s pop songs. The older I get the more I become aware of how strange some of the lyrics are to some of the great singles. The newest song in that line is The Temptation’s “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by Norman Whitfield and Edward Holland Jr. In many respects it is a love song. A man unable to face the fact that his lover left him. It’s touching, in a way.
Granted, if a man ever treated me like what the lyrics are actually saying I would probably not find it very flattering. It opens with, “I know you wanna leave me / but I refuse to let you go /If I have to beg and plead for your sympathy,
I don’t mind coz’ you mean that much to me.” Honey, if I want to leave you it will take more then begging to let you come back. Also, don’t sleep on my doorstep all night or I’ll call the cops. But jokes aside, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” is still such a fresh sound single, it’s something worth listening to over and over again (and then probably once more).
Smokey Robinson was acting as the group’s producer prior to this. He was involved with the production on the single “Get Ready,” which didn’t chart very well (seems incredible now). Though it was probably fate as Gordy Records producer and write Norman Whitfield was the replacement. He would later go on to work on classics like “War” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”
David Ruffin has one heck of a voice. He played a major part in what made the Classic Five era so damn good. The Temptations said that the song’s success was due to the harder hitting style of Whitfield. Better or not with their new producer, this song is now a standard for its time. One of the best parts of the Temptations is feeling their journey as they changed as a band. And “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” is one hell of a marker.