Love Child

R. Dean Taylor, Frank Wilson, Pam Sawyer, Deke Richards, 1968

The song opens with the line "You think that I don't feel love." To whom is this addressed? Why does this person think this?

What is a "tenement slum?" What is suggested as the reason the protagonist of the song grew up in one?

Why won't the protagonist sleep with her partner?

What do you think is meant by the line "We'll only end up hating the child we may be creating"? How does the song differ from earlier hits of the Supremes?

"Love Child" performed by Diana Ross and The Supremes on Love Child, © 1968. Available on Itunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

For more information on Diana Ross visit her fan site.

Rights have not been secured to reprint the words for this song. Please consult this online source

Love child single
"Love Child" single cover.

In the early 1960s, a group of Detroit teenagers sang for Motown founder Berry Gordy. The girls—Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Betty McGlown—impressed Gordy, who signed them to the Motown label after they graduated from high school. Located in Detroit, Motown's company slogan was "the sound of America," and the record label, run by Africans Americans, signed African American musicians. Ross (who later changed her name to Diana Ross), Wilson, and Ballard became one of Motown's premier groups, known as the Supremes.

When Gordy was starting Motown, many songs by African American musicians were categorized as R&B—historically classified as a Black genre—and were not part of the Top 40 charts. To change this, Gordy and his teams of writers, lyricists, producers, and musicians focused on love and non-controversial, universal subjects in songs designed to appeal to Black and white audiences alike. Recorded in Motown's studio, known as Hitsville USA, over 150 Motown songs became number one hits, including the Supremes' "Baby Love," "Stop! In the Name of Love," and "Where Did Our Love Go?"

In 1968, amid a dispute with some of his songwriters, Gordy put together a new songwriting team that came to be known as "the Clan." The Clan—which included songwriters and producers Dean Taylor, Frank Wilson, Pam Sawyer, and Deke Richards—was tasked with developing a new hit for the Supremes, and they decided to also create a new sound and feel for the group. Focusing on a more mature sound and lyrics that addressed social issues, the team wrote "Love Child."

The song is written as a personal narrative. In the lyrics, a woman explains to her boyfriend her difficulties growing up as a child without married parents and informs him that she does not want to sleep with him for fear of bringing another "love child" into the world. The lyrics mention the "hurt" and "shame" that she felt, recalling that "her father left, never even married Mom." Having a baby without being married was not a subject often addressed in songs at the time, but Gordy felt that the song turned a negative image into a positive statement.

The Supremes sang the song on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1968 in cut-off jeans and shorts, natural hairstyles, and bare feet, and they sang on a set that looked like a front-porch stoop. This performance projected their new image, which was less formal than the fancy wigs and dresses that the group had become known for.



Creative Commons License
Voices Across Time is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at