Four Tops' “You Keep Running Away”—BEST SONG EVER, right this second, and probably for many seconds afterward. Immortality in under three minutes. The video? Meh. However, it's the only one in the YouTube-iverse. But no matter.
The composers of this song, those indefatigable pillars of the mighty Motown hit factory, Brian Holland-Lamont Dozier-Edward Holland, could fuse soulfulness, funkiness and hookiness with unparalleled panache. They found countless clever ways to write about heartbreak, love, loss—the whole hoary ball of cheese and chocolate on which popular music's been feasting for decades—without causing diabetes and eye-rolling. Somehow they eluded the triteness that afflicts most songwriters in the romance-centric idiom. In fact, on “You Keep Running Away,” Four Tops and HDH make romantic longing seem like an incomparably uplifting experience. Play this song on repeat for hours and throw away your Paxil forever… or at least a week.
Even though I came up in the Detroit area during Motown's '60s/'70s halcyon days and was bombarded with the label's output on the radio, I can still listen to HDH's songs decades after their initial release without that all-too-common feeling of burnout from overexposure. Miracles do happen, Smokey.
Four Tops play with the Temptations at the Grove of Anaheim March 13.