303. ‘I’m Still Waiting’, by Diana Ross

For the second time this year, a former member of one of the sixties biggest groups scores a solo #1 single. From George Harrison, to Diana Ross. From The Supremes, to Diana Ross & The Supremes, to Diana. Just Diana.

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I’m Still Waiting, by Diana Ross (her 1st of two #1s)

4 weeks, from 15th August – 12th September 1971

The first word that comes to mind when this record intros is ‘polished’: polished strings, glossy production, not a dollar spared. Ross’s vocals, when they come in, are breathy and crystal clear. I remember when, I was five and you were ten, boy… Diana Ross, as always, has a voice you could swim in.

She’s loved this lad since they were kids, thought they were destined to be together, only to one day be told: Little girl, Please don’t wait for me, Wait patiently for love, Someday it will surely come… But Diana can’t take this advice, can’t give up on her first love. She’s still waiting.

It’s a record that I’m struggling to get into. I can see that it’s good – well-structured and beautifully recorded. It’s pop, but for grown-ups. Sophisticated soul. By the seventies, the people who had grown up buying pop music were getting older, and that starts to show in the number of AOR/MOR (not sure if these terms existed in 1971, but still) tracks that will become huge hits in this decade. Pop was no longer just for teenagers.

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And as I play it again, ‘I’m Still Waiting’ is slowly growing on me. I don’t love it, yet, but it’s gradually imprinting on my brain. It’s not short of hooks – the Little girl chorus is catchy, as is the And I’m still waiting… that hangs at the end of each of chorus. And there’s the I’m just a fool…! from the backing singers. And then, Diana speaks. Love has never shown his face, Since the day you walked out that door… Come back, Can’t you see it’s you I’m waiting for…

Will he ever come back? We’ll never know. The song shimmers to a fade-out. I can’t say I knew much about this record before writing this: it’s not one of Ms. Ross’s many hits that I could have named, that didn’t top the charts. Apparently it was one Tony Blackburn who plugged this album track so much on his radio show that Motown gave permission for it to be released in the UK. And it’s a sign of Ross’s longevity and sheer star quality that this #1 comes seven years after her first chart-topper with The Supremes (‘Baby Love’) and fifteen (!) years before her next chart-topper. She was a huge musical presence for the best part of five decades, and it’s been nice to discover this forgotten gem.

Listen to every number one single so far, here.

11 thoughts on “303. ‘I’m Still Waiting’, by Diana Ross

  1. badfinger20 (Max)

    I don’t remember this one either. I thought I knew around all she did early on.
    It’s good though…I can’t believe it only hit 63 over here.

  2. Still one of her signature tunes in the UK, a hit over again in 1976, and a remixed dance version in the 90’s. When I saw my first Top Of The Pops show after being cruelly denied for 2 years, this was topping the chart, and I asked my parents for the single for Christmas along with 7 others, including the next one to top the charts. Totally worth it!

    1. I had genuinely never heard it before, I don’t think. When I think Diana Ross I think Supremes, the early 80s disco stuff and ‘Chain Reaction’… Maybe that just my age, but ‘I’m Still Waiting’ never registered.

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  4. Along with Love Hangover, Diana’s finest moment as a solo artist for me. Strangely, I much prefer her early 70s solo stuff – this one, Remember Me, Shoobedoobndoobie etc, to her much of her output with the Supremes; and I prefer the post-Ross Supremes singles (Nathan Jones, Stoned Love, Floy Joy) to the ones with Diana, as great as those sixties Supremes singles were.

    As for being for grown-ups – I was 13 when this came out, and I remember every girl of my age loving this at the time. A classic pop single. Well spotted Mr. B!

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