Thursday, August 19, 2010

Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Song)

I came across this ABC music book in a downtown record store in the summer of 1970, shortly after the ABC LP had been released. It contained the music and lyrics for all but two songs on the LP, plus a few from Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5. For kids like me, who used to struggle to understand the lyrics to J5 songs (I could have sworn they were singing "2-4-6-8 / Who do you appreciate / This thing annoys me"), it was a Godsend.

Inside there was a short bio and a few black-and-white photos, like the one you see below.

I was disappointed, however, that the individual blurb about each brother was accompanied by a charcoal drawing that would make Frenchy look like a skilled artist. Here's Jackie's, for example:

I suspect that these were similar to the charcoal drawings by "famed Hollywood artists" advertised on the first product sleeve (and, boy, am I glad I didn't spend my money on them.) This doesn't even look like Jackie. But the worst of the bunch is the one of Michael, which makes him look like the comic strip character Dondi.

But I digress.

The truly interesting thing about the ABC music book is the mysterious inclusion of "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)."
Even the most casual Motown fan will recognize this as Diana Ross's first solo single, which had been released a few months earlier in April 1970. How did it end up in the Jackson 5's first music book? Had it originally been intended as a Jackson 5 release? It was, frankly, much more like the kinds of songs the Jackson 5 were recording in 1970 (e.g. "I'll Be There," and "Give Love on Christmas Day") than what Diana Ross was known for.

Or did the Jackson 5 record a cover version, like the Supremes & Four Tops did that same year for their first joint album, Magnificent Seven? If that's the case, why would it have been scrapped, in favor of the much weaker selections on ABC, "True Love Can Be Beautiful" and "LaLa Means I Love You?" (Just guessing these two cuts since neither was included in the ABC music book.) Could it be that Diana didn't want the competition from Michael, who may have sung it better?

To add a further bit of intrigue, this is the song Diana and Michael sang together in The Jacksons: An American Dream. As the young Michael Jackson, actor Jason Weaver gives us a taste of what the song might have sounded like, sung by Michael in 1970. Watch Michael and Diana (played by Holly Robinson) fight for control of the microphone in this scene. An inside joke, perhaps?

Or was was the inclusion of the song just a simple error?


  1. I always hoped The Jackson 5 did record "Reach out and touch (somebody's hand)" ever since seeing that scene in The Jacksons An American Dream. Great to see Holly Robinson in that film too :) The charcoal drawings are pretty bad lol!

  2. It would be great to hear the J5 singing it -- and image how great it would have been live!

  3. By the way, what did Jason became? I suppose he must be in the show business right?
    I thought that he was quite a good michael in these series.

  4. Question for anyone who may know:

    I watched and recorded "American Dream" live when it aired in 1992. I bought the VHS home video version years later, but it doesn't have the scene above (plus a few others) that aired on TV. Does the DVD contain this and other scenes (I can think of a "Rockin Robin" studio session, a Tito/Joe encounter in a dark alley, maybe one other scene)? Thanks in advance!

  5. I noticed that with the VHS set, too, Kyle. I think the DVD restored those scenes (I don't have the DVD, but someone who does told me they had put them back in).

  6. Jason had a little success as a solo artist and was a featured artist couple times.

    He's mostly into acting now though and has been in a few movies.. the last one being ATL with T.I. and co-starred in a tv show a few years before that. Not sure what he's doing at the moment though.

    Buuttt that was one of my favorite scenes as a kid and I remember wondering if they ever recorded it even then.

  7. The DVD restored the audio scenes. I purchased my copies a couple years ago and it was on there.