Night Music: James and Bobby Purify, “I’m Your Puppet”

Songs like this seem so effortless, but it was written by Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn and produced by Penn at FAME Studios at Muscle Shoals. Pros all around! Or should I say, pros can make it all seem effortless?

I’m Your Puppet reached No. 6 in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966. James and Bobby were cousins, by the way. Bobby Lee Dickey took his cousin’s surname for the stage. Later, Bobby retired for health reasons, and James joined up with a singer named Ben Moore, who adopted the Bobby Purify part and name. They rerecorded I’m Your Puppet in 1976 and had a hit in the UK.

It’s a very good song. I should also note that I got here because I was listening to the Box Tops first album today, which was kind of hurriedly put together after The Letter (have I mentioned that it is one of my favorite songs?) became such a big hit. The Box Tops other big hit, Cry Like a Baby, was written by Oldham and Penn, and the Box Tops cover I’m Your Puppet on that first album. But the Purify version rules.

2 thoughts on “Night Music: James and Bobby Purify, “I’m Your Puppet”

  1. Great selection, and Yo La Tengo did a wonderful cover a decade or so back. I think it might have been on their album of covers, but I just bought a straight download (or do I have a 45? cannot remember).

    I searched YouTube and could only find this rather funky iPhone copy. Picture bad, sound ok, and it is just a splice, but you get the idea.

    • This version is pretty awesome, too, because Marvin and Tammi were just about perfect always. (Though I learned that much if not all of the singing here is Valerie Simpson, because Tammi Terrell was sick and soon after died.)

      Which got me thinking about Motown groups singing non-Motown written songs. This is one? Were there other significant ones? I’m going to look it up.

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