What Becomes of the Brokenhearted
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"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 (see 1966 in music). It is a quintessential bitter sweet ballad, with lead singer Jimmy Ruffin recalling the pain that befalls the broken hearted, and their struggle to overcome their sadness so that they can find happiness in the future of their lives. In 1996, Robson and Jerome covered the song and topped the UK singles chart with it.
The song 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" was Jimmy Ruffin's only Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and 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 on-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.
The song originally featured a spoken introduction by Ruffin, similar in style to many Lou Rawls's performances of the same 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.
- Lead vocals by Jimmy Ruffin
- Background vocals by The Originals (Freddie Gorman, Walter Gaines, Hank Dixon, Joe Stubbs) and The Andantes (Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, Louvain Demps)
- Instrumentation by The Funk Brothers
- A 1969 cover by Diana Ross & The Supremes.
- A 1981 cover by Dave Stewart on synth and vocals by Zombies singer Colin Blunstone on Stiff reached UK #13.
- A 1988 cover by Russell Hitchcock in his self-titled album .
- A 1988 cover by Ruby Turner featured original performer Jimmy Ruffin. The accompanying album, The Motown Song Book, has been long out of print.  
- A 1991 cover by Paul Young featured in the film Fried Green Tomatoes; this version reached #22 on the US pop chart and became Young's third #1 song on the US adult contemporary chart (following "Everytime You Go Away" and "Oh Girl").
- It was also planned to be covered by Whitney Houston for the soundtrack to the 1992 film The Bodyguard, starring Houston and Kevin Costner. However, after Young's cover surfaced in Fried Green Tomatoes, the Dolly Parton song "I Will Always Love You" was selected in its place, becoming a record-breaking hit for Houston.
- Two 1996 covers by Robson & Jerome, both a traditional version and one called soul version, on a UK#1 single.
- A 1998 cover by Joe Cocker.
- In 1999, a cover was released by Vonda Shepard on the Heart and Soul: More Songs From Ally McBeal CD.
- A 2000 cover by Irish group Westlife
- A 2002 cover by The Funk Brothers and Joan Osbourne for the Funk Brothers documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown.
- A 2005 cover by The dB's which was made downloadable for Hurricane Katrina relief
- A 2007 cover by German Euro-pop band Blue Lagoon on their album Sentimental Fools.
- A remix was released on YouTube by the artist DJ Boonie.
- Also covered by Boy George in 1988, as well as a radio jingle in the early '90s.
- The newest cover is from Ph.D., as frontman Jim Diamond cites Motown as an influence on his music.
- The Gaslight Anthem worked the song in to their end of their set with their song "Angry Johnny And The Radio" on March 31, 2009 at The Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, OH
- Ritz, David (1992). "Jimmy Ruffin". Liner notes from Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection: 1959 - 1971. Motown Record Company, L.P./PolyGram.