Music Friday: ‘Third Finger, Left Hand,’ That’s Where He Placed the Wedding Band

September 20, 2019

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Martha and the Vandellas sing about the thrill of receiving a wedding band in the 1967 release, “Third Finger, Left Hand.”

They sing, “At last my dreams come true / Today he said “I do” / Friends said it couldn’t be done / But all his love I know I’ve won / ‘Cause third finger, left hand / That’s where he placed the wedding band.”

Written by Motown’s main creative team of Lamont Dozier and the brothers Brian and Eddie Holland, “Third Finger, Left Hand” is the memorable hook of a song that’s best known for being the “B” side of “Jimmy Mack,” which soared to #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart and #10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In the years before CDs and digital downloads, young people cherished their vinyl 45 singles. While the purchase was sparked by the popular “A” side, sometimes the “B” side would reveal a hidden gem.

“Against the Vandellas’ ‘shoop-shoops,’ Martha recalls the sweet moments leading up to that wonderful walk to the altar,” writes Ed Hogan of allmusic.com. “It’s a good bet that ‘Third Finger Left Hand’ got almost as much turntable play as its hit A-side.”

Trivia: While one’s thumb is a digit, it is generally not considered a “finger.” So the third finger of one’s left hand is, indeed, the ring finger.

Formed in Detroit in 1957, Martha and the Vandellas, became one of Motown’s greatest acts. Featuring the powerful lead vocals of Martha Reeves, the group charted more than 26 hits, including their signature single, “Dancing in the Street.” The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Reeves continues to tour at the age of 78.

The songwriting and production team known as Holland–Dozier–Holland was behind the Motown sound of the 1960s. They not only wrote for Martha and the Vandellas, but also for the Supremes, the Four Tops and Freda Payne, who sang one of our H-D-H favorites, “Band of Gold.” The trio was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Please check out the audio track of Martha and the Vandellas singing “Third Finger, Left Hand.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Third Finger, Left Hand”
Written by Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland. Performed by Martha and the Vandellas.

At last my dreams come true
Today he said “I do”
Friends said it couldn’t be done
But all his love I know I’ve won
‘Cause third finger, left hand
That’s where he placed the wedding band

He walked right up to me
And pledged his love for me
I longed to hear him say
The sweet words he spoke that day
Made me feel so good inside
The tears came to my eyes
I love him above the rest
‘Cause in my book he’s the best

‘Cause he did something that no one else did
Friends said it couldn’t be done
But all his love I know I’ve won
‘Cause third finger, left hand
That’s where he placed the wedding band

His words were precious few
But all along my heart knew
That no other boys in line
Could ever change my mind
Other boys, I sent away
I locked my heart till our wedding day
I love him above the rest
‘Cause in my book he’s the best

‘Cause he did something that no one else did
Friends said it couldn’t be done
But all his love I know I’ve won
‘Cause third finger, left hand
That’s where he placed the wedding band
Third finger, left hand
That’s where he placed the wedding band
Third finger, left hand
That’s where he placed the wedding band
Third finger, left hand
That’s where he placed the wedding band
Third finger, left hand
That’s where he placed the wedding band

Credit: Image by Aug856 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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