What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" is a hit single recorded by Jimmy Ruffin and released on Motown Records' Soul label in the summer of 1966. It is a ballad, with lead singer Jimmy Ruffin recalling the pain that befalls the brokenhearted, who had love that's now departed. The song essentially deals with the struggle to overcome sadness while seeking a new relationship after a breakup.

"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
Single by Jimmy Ruffin
from the album Jimmy Ruffin Sings Top Ten
B-side"Baby, I've Got It"
ReleasedJune 3, 1966
Format7" single
RecordedHitsville USA (Studio A); 1966
S 35022
Jimmy Ruffin singles chronology
"As Long As There Is L-O-V-E"
"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
"I've Passed This Way Before"

The tune was written by William Weatherspoon, Paul Riser, and James Dean, and the recording was produced by Weatherspoon and William "Mickey" Stevenson. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" remains one of the most-revived of Motown's hits.

Composers Weatherspoon and Riser and lyricist Dean had originally written "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" with the intention of having The Spinners, then an act on Motown's V.I.P. label, record the tune. Jimmy Ruffin, older brother of Temptations lead singer David Ruffin, persuaded Dean to let him record the song, as its anguished lyric about a man lost in the misery of heartbreak resonated with the singer.

Ruffin's lead vocal on the recording is augmented by the instrumentation of Motown's in-house studio band, The Funk Brothers, and the joint backing vocals of Motown session singers The Originals and The Andantes. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, and at number six on the Billboard R&B Singles chart, as well as No. 8 on the UK Chart. Eight years later, the song was reissued (with a B-Side of Ruffin's minor US hit "Don't You Miss Me a Little Bit Baby"), and surpassed its original chart position, reaching No. 4, and thus making it his highest-placed chart single in the UK.

The song originally featured a spoken introduction by Ruffin, similar in style to many of Lou Rawls' performances at the time. The spoken verse was removed from the final mix, hence the unusually long instrumental intro on the released version. The spoken verse is present on the alternate mix from the UK 2003 release Jimmy Ruffin - The Ultimate Motown Collection, and as a new stereo extended mix on the 2005 anthology, The Motown Box:

A world filled with love is a wonderful sight.
Being in love is one's heart's delight.
But that look of love isn't on my face.
That enchanted feeling has been replaced.

Chart performance


Paul Young cover

"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
Single by Paul Young
from the album Fried Green Tomatoes Soundtrack
B-side"Ghost Train (Main Title)"
ReleasedJanuary 1992 (1992-01)
FormatCD Single
GenrePop, blue-eyed soul
Songwriter(s)William Weatherspoon
Paul Riser
James Dean
Paul Young singles chronology
"Oh Girl"
"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
"Now I Know What Made Otis Blue"

A 1991 cover by Paul Young was featured in the film Fried Green Tomatoes. During the winter of 1992, his version reached No. 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 8 Cash Box,[5] becoming Young's third No. 1 song on the US adult contemporary chart (following "Everytime You Go Away" and "Oh Girl").[6] It was a bigger hit in Canada, reaching No. 6 pop[7] and No. 1 Adult Contemporary.[8]

Chart history

Other covers

"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"
Single by Robson & Jerome
from the album Take Two
Released28 October 1996 (1996-10-28)
FormatCD single
GenrePop, blue-eyed soul
Songwriter(s)William Weatherspoon
Paul Riser
James Dean
Robson & Jerome singles chronology
"I Believe/Up on the Roof"
"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"


  1. Tsort. "Songs from the Year 1966". tsort.info. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  2. "The Irish Charts – Search Results – What Becomes of the Brokenhearted". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  3. "Top 100 Hits of 1966/Top 100 Songs of 1966". musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  4. "Top 100 1974 - UK Music Charts". top-source.info. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  5. U.S. Cash Box Chart Entries - 1990 - 1996
  6. Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 264.
  7. "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1992-03-28. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  8. "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1992-03-07. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  9. Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  10. https://musiccanada.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/top-100-singles-of-1992-in-canada/
  11. Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.
  12. Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-1993. Record Research. p. 111.
  13. Ruby Turner - The Motown Song Book at Discogs
  14. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 599–600. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  • Ritz, David (1992). "Jimmy Ruffin". Liner notes from Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection: 1959 - 1971. Motown Record Company, L.P./PolyGram.
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