In 1969, Johnny Bristol was preparing a cover version of “Someday We’ll Be Together,” to be recorded by Motown act Jr. Walker & the All-Stars. Bristol had already recorded the instrumental track and the background vocals by Maxine Waters and Julia Waters when Berry Gordy happened upon the tracks and heard them. Gordy thought that “Someday” would be a perfect first solo single for Diana Ross, who was making her long-expected exit from the Supremes at the time, and had Bristol sequester Ross into the studio to record the song. Unable at first to get the vocal performance he desired from Diana Ross, Johnny Bristol decided to try something different: he would harmonize with Ross, helping her to get into the mood needed for the record. On the first take, the engineer accidentally recorded both Ross’s vocal and Bristol’s ad-libs. Bristol and arranger Wade Marcus liked the results, and Bristol had his vocal recorded alongside Ross’ for the final version of the song. Bristol’s ad-libs and words of encouragement to Ross can be heard in the background throughout the song. When Berry Gordy heard the completed song, he decided to release it as the final Diana Ross & the Supremes song. Ross’ first solo single instead, released early 1970, became “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand).” While the explicit subject of the song was that of Ross comforting a long-distance lover, “Someday We’ll Be Together” allowed for a number of other implications such that Ross and bandmates Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong would one day “be together.” Further, in concert, Ross would suggest that “someday, we’ll be together” in regard to contemporary troubles like civil rights and the ongoing demonstrations and protests against the Vietnam War.
[Dedicated to Bob Thorhauge and Stine Lyndgaard who are getting married today]