Category Archives: motown

R. Dean Taylor – Motown’s Blue Eyed King of Misery

During the Motown flourish of the 60’s and early 70’s, one writer / composer / singer perhaps remains under the radar more than most, and undeservedly so. His name is R Dean Taylor, and he is probably best known in the US for ‘Indiana Wants Me’, and in the UK for the fuzz / baroque classic ‘There’s a Ghost in my House’.

His biggest hit, ‘Indiana Wants Me’ is a heartbreaking, widescreen classic, depicting a murder fugitive writing his last letter to his wife and child, as he prepares for a ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ showdown with the law enforcement agents that surround his hideout. Despite a morally ambiguous premise – we are invited to side with a protagonist who has killed a man for insulting his wife – there is a palpable sense of fatalism as the killer prepares to face the consequences of his actions, and his regrets;

‘It hurts to see the man that I’ve become
To know I’ll never see the morning sunshine on the land
I’ll never see your smiling face or touch your hand
If just once more I could see
You, our home and our little baby’

The cinematic feel of the song is enhanced by the sound of police sirens bookending the composition, and at the climax of the song, you hear the sound of a shoot-out, that leaves you in no doubt how the stand-off ends. Click on the link below to hear the song on youtube;

‘There’s A Ghost In My House’ is, I believe, the best of the late Sixties Motown output – a real  fuzz / baroque masterpiece, thrilling, with a driving beat that ensured it got embraced by the UK Northern Soul scene (and which gave it a second lease of life in the UK Charts, reaching no.3 in May 1974). Despite the insistent rhythm, the lyrics, as the title suggest, are haunted by loss and regret;

‘Where our love used to be
Only shadows from the past I see
Time can’t seem to erase
The vision of your smiling face
Though you found someone new
I can’t get over you
There’s a ghost in my house
I can’t hide (ghost in my house)
From the ghost of your love that’s inside (ghost in my house)
It keeps on haunting me (ghost in my house)
Just keeps on remiding me (ghost in my house)’

In one of his other hits, ‘Gotta See Jane’ (reached no.17 in the UK charts of June 1968)  – another strident tune tells the story of a man who rejected a love to find his way in the world, only to realise that the promise of the material world left him a hollow man, and now he is rejecting the rat race for love, but no guarantees he can win back Jane. His urgency borders on mania, another man haunted by love, although this time he is the one who abandons his lover, regret driving him back to try and recapture what he once had;

‘I left her arms to find my way
To find a place for me in the world outside
I wasn’t alive, I could not survive
The frantic pace, the constant chase
To win the race, turned my heart cold inside
I’ve gotta find what I left behind

A town of steel that isn’t real
It could not feel what’s in the heart of me
I was so alone in a world of stone
I missed her arms, that once held me
That made me see, I was the lonely one
But now and then I was runnin’ scared
And I could feel the touch of time
Turnin’ the wheel of life to yesterday
When love and happiness were mine
I gotta find that world of Jane and me
Like it used to be’

Check it out on youtube;
Gotta See Jane

There are others worthy of mention, like ‘Ain’t it a sad thing’ – an environmentalist plea set to another driving, jaunty soul stomper singalong. It’s great, but again seeped in sadness and regret;

R Dean Taylor ‘Aint It A Sad Thing’

and also ‘Back Street Girl’ – where a good girl gone bad, ends up dead – but R Dean struggles with his conscience, asking – could his love have saved her?

It is also worth mentioning that he wrote the classic Diana Ross & The Supremes cautionary tale ‘Love Child’ (and here is a fantastic performance of it);


R Dean Taylor – a man with a gift of serving up haunting heartbreak and misery in Sixties Soul Stompers, a gifted writer with a blue-eyed soul voice. His songs tend to have a little more edge than most of the Motown output of the time, standing slightly apart from the mainstream, while still managing to score big hits.


R Dean Taylor – Wikipedia entry

‘Indiana Wants Me’ song facts