Temptations – Cloud Nine

This was written by Motown writers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, who had written earlier Temptations hits “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and “Just My Imagination.” Love the bass in this song.

This was a new sound for The Temptations. It was psychedelic soul-funk similar to Sly & the Family Stone, rather than the earlier smooth Soul they were known for. The song peaked at #6 in the Billboard 100 in 1969.

The Temptations all together had 4 number 1 hits, 15 Top Ten hits, and 53 songs in the Billboard 100.

This was the first Motown song to win a Grammy. It won for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance By A Duo Or Group, Vocal Or Instrumental in 1968.

From Songfacts


This was the first Temptations song recorded with new lead singer Dennis Edwards. David Ruffin, their original leader, was fired after he missed a gig. Ruffin became very difficult to work with when Motown refused to bill the group as “David Ruffin and The Temptations,” as they had done with “Diana Ross and The Supremes.”

The lyrics could be interpreted to be about drugs, which would go against The Temptations clean-cut image. They knew Whitfield and Strong didn’t do drugs, however, so they didn’t have a problem with the lyrics.

This was the first Motown song to use a wah-wah pedal. A white guitarist named Dennis Coffey brought it to a Motown workshop and played it for Whitfield while he was arranging this song. Whitfield loved the way it worked and had Coffey join the Motown house band when they recorded the track.

Whitfield used Coffey on many more sessions, including the seminal track “War.” Coffey, who had a hit on his own with “Scorpio,” considers his work on “Cloud Nine” some of his best. “It’s kicking major ass,” he told Songfacts. “That groove was so funky it’s amazing.”

Whitfield and Strong wrote this shortly after the songwriting team of Holland/Dozier/Holland left Motown. Holland/Dozier/Holland wrote many of the hits for the label, so it was a big boost for Motown when Whitfield and Strong stepped up and wrote another hit.

The week after this was released, Motown head Berry Gordy released Marvin Gaye’s version of “Heard It Through The Grapevine,” which until then he refused to release because he did not think it was a hit.

Cloud Nine

Oh ho, ho ho ho, ooh, hoo
Childhood part of my life, it wasn’t very pretty
You see, I was born and raised in the slums of the city
It was a one room shack that slept ten other children besides me
We hardly had enough food or room to sleep
It was hard times
Needed something to ease my troubled mind
Listen, my father didn’t know the meaning of work
He disrespected mama, and treated us like dirt
I left home, seekin’ a job that I never did find
Depressed and downhearted I took to cloud nine
I’m doin’ fine, up here on cloud nine
Listen one more time I’m doin’ fine, up here on cloud nine
Folks down there tell me
They say, give yourself a chance son, don’t let life pass you by
But the world of reality is a rat race where only the strongest survive
It’s a dog eat dog world, and that ain’t no lie
Listen, it ain’t even safe no more to walk the streets at night
I’m doin’ fine, on cloud nine
Let me tell you about cloud nine

Cloud nine, you can be what you wanna be
(Cloud nine) you ain’t got no responsibility
And ev’ry man, ev’ry man is free
(Cloud nine) and you’re a million miles from reality
I wanna say I love the life I live
And I’m gonna live the life I love up here on cloud nine
I, I, I, I, I, I I’m riding high
On cloud nine, you’re as free as a bird in flight
(Cloud nine) there’s no diff’rence between day and night
(Cloud nine) it’s a world of love and harmony
(Cloud nine) you’re a million miles from reality

Cloud nine, you can be what you wanna be
Cloud nine you ain’t got no responsibility
Cloud nine, and ev’ry man in this world is free
(Cloud nine) and you’re a million miles from reality
(Cloud nine) you can be what you wanna be

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

11 thoughts on “Temptations – Cloud Nine”

  1. LOVE this song! The Real Don Steele used to host a syndicated show – Live from the Sixties I think was the name of it – we played it on WKSG in Detroit. Listen back to the guitar intro of this song. Don “talked up” the song by singing “Whackem Well, Whackem Well, Whackem Well” along with that guitar thing and yelled “Say woo!” and the Temps sing … I don’t know why but I will always remember that talk up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a nice transition they did between the eras…songs like Wish It Would Rain and a little later this and Papa Was A Rolling Stone.


  2. As great and important as David Ruffin was to the Temptations (and Motown) firing him and hiring Dennis Edwards was the best possible change for the group. Cloud Nine and Psychedelic Shack are absolutely the best albums the Tempts ever recorded. They definitely had more hit singles earlier in their career with Ruffin, but these 2 albums are as good as any albums by any artist released in 69 & 70. They are innovative and contemporary while maintaining the group’s outstanding signature sound. And honestly, Edwards was a much stronger singer than Ruffin.
    Love the Ruffin era, but the late 60s early 70s Temptations with Edwards is rich and strong and excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. I love Ruffin but they were transitioning into another era. They could have easily sounded old fashion if they would not have progressed quickly enough.

      I’m not sure but didn’t this also coincide with their move to LA?


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: