Diana Ross & The Supremes – “Reflections”

Diana Ross & The Supremes did such an amazing job with this song, it seems timeless, but I know for me, as I listen to it, my memory starts to travel back in time growing up listening to this song and other Motown hits whether it be a 45 record or album being played on the record player.  Those were the simple, yet good days, with music you could listen to, dance to, and not have to be cautious of the lyrics.

“Reflections” was written by the Motown songwriting team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland. In a Songfacts interview with Dozier, he explained: “It’s about when the love has gone bad, or when things have changed in life. One thing in life that’s ever-changing is tomorrow is always different from today. Things change for many reasons, and you have to be aware of why, and what is happening around you. You have to adapt to the changes in life. That’s what that was about: your reflection on how things used to be, can be, and will be, hopefully.

It’s all about hope, too. The main theme of that song is hope: although things have come to pass, you have to start changing, remembering the old to get involved with a new approach in life.”

This song tells the story of a woman who looks back in anguish at her lost love, wondering what could have been had things worked out. But the song was directed in some ways at Motown head Barry Gordy, with the same sentiment.

Starting with “Where Did Our Love Go” in 1964, the Holland-Dozier-Holland team wrote nine #1 hits for The Supremes as well as many big songs for The Four Tops, Martha & the Vandellas, and several other acts on the label. After a few years of runaway success, the three writers demanded publishing rights to their songs but were rebuffed by Gordy. This was when they wrote “Reflections,” which pleased Gordy by providing yet another hit for The Supremes, but portended the departure of Holland-Dozier-Holland, who left a short time later, breaking their contract in the process. The legal tussle between Gordy and his former star writers stretched on for many years.

Sonically, this was a departure for The Supremes, with no saxophone or prominent electric guitar backbeat. It retained the sturdy bassline of James Jamerson but featured a Wurlitzer electric piano by Earl Van Dyke and tambourine by Jack Ashford. Pistol Allen was the drummer and Joe Messina added guitar. The oscillator-generated sound effects also appear throughout the track.

This was the first foray for The Supremes into psychedelic pop, a sound fully realized by The Beatles a month earlier when they released their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

“Reflections” has some mind-bending lyrics:

Trapped in a world
that’s a distorted reality

It also opens with some trippy sound effects that were created with a custom oscillator designed by one of The Funk Brothers, who were session musicians for most Motown songs of the period. 

Released during The Summer of Love (1967) on their album titled “Reflections” during the time when the Vietnam War was raging. This made it an appropriate choice for the theme song of the TV series China Beach, which was set in Vietnam during the war. The series ran on ABC from 1988-1991. 

The album peaked at #2 on the US billboard 100 and #5 in the UK.

After this song was recorded, the group’s name was changed to Diana Ross and the Supremes, something the other Supremes were not happy about. This was their first song to be released under that name.

This was one of the last Supremes songs founding member Florence Ballard sang on. She was replaced by Cindy Birdsong a short time after it was released.

Diana Ross loves this song. When the Supremes re-formed in 2000, they used this to open their Return To Love tour. Ross also sang it on her 2004 European tour.


Song Lyrics –

Through the mirror of my mind
Time after time
I see reflections of you and me

Reflections of
The way life used to be
Reflections of
The love you took from me

Oh, I’m all alone now
No love to shield me
Trapped in a world
That’s a distorted reality

Happiness you took from me
And left me all alone
With only memories

Through the mirror of my mind
Through all these tears that I’m crying
Reflects a hurt I can’t control
Although you’re gone
I keep holding on
To those happy times
Oh, girl when you were mine

As I peer through the windows
Of lost time
Keeping looking over my yesterdays
And all the love I gave all in vain
(All the love) All the love
That I’ve wasted
(All the tears) All the tears
That I’ve tasted
All in vain

Through the hollow of my tears
I see a dream that’s lost
From the hurt baby
That you have caused

Everywhere I turn
Seems like everything I see
Reflects a hurt I can’t control

In you I put
All my hope and trust
Right before my eyes
My whole world has turned to dust

Reflections of
The love you took from
Reflections of
The way life used to be

In you I put
All my hope and trust
Right before my eyes
My whole world has turned to dust

Now baby, why did you do it?



Credit: Songfacts, YouTube & Yahoo.com/images

7 thoughts on “Diana Ross & The Supremes – “Reflections”

    1. They really were a great group, and this song brings back so many memories for me. It’s a little sad, and I guess that’s because after it was released Florence Ballard was fired, and replaced by Cindy Birdsong. I think if I were a singer, and thank goodness I am not, but if I ever would have been, I would not have wanted to be a part of a girl group. I’m sure it had its ups, but when the downs came, I bet they were some real downers.

      Motown was pumping out some great songs back then, and this is one of them. “Hitsville USA.”

      1. I always felt for her being fired. Back then everything was new to everyone and there was no manual to go by but yea she got the short end of the stick.

        They had some great songwriters and band to back those groups up.

        1. She did get the short end of the stick. Everything was new, and they were young and naive. Hungry for fame and fortune and really wasn’t aware of all that went into it.

          Motown was blessed with some great songwriters and band members. I remember back in the day, hearing about the Funk Brothers and how talented they were. Gone are those days, but I am so happy we still have the music to remind us that great music really did exist.

          1. Stax and Motown had the best house bands…what I think killed those bands was that bands started to write their own music and play it and that cut down the need which is a big shame.

            Yes those days are gone and we are left with computer generated things that have no soul…well much of it doesnt.

            1. I remember Stax. It’s a shame how everything seemed to be going well, and before we knew it, it was over. Just a memory, that we hold on to.

              Computer-generated music, voices, and everything else is killing the music. If it wasn’t for the music from our younger years, it would be a bigger disaster than what it is. Thank God we have those memories to hold on to!

              Have a great weekend.