First Hit #1: October 15, 1966
There have been a few different songs that are slightly dark lately, and Reach Out I’ll Be There isn’t really an exception. The verses basically are describing a worst case scenario, describing anything bad that could happen mentally and setting up a worst case scenario. It’s an interesting way to set up a love song, but that’s because it’s leading to one of the all time great choruses. I’ll Be There only sets up the darkness to reveal the light, and the devotion and sincere love of the chorus is something that wipes out anything negative that might happen in the verses. That’s the point, everything bad is washed away by the positive, and the light doesn’t work without having some dark to chase away.
It is a song that would not work without passion, since you need to be devoted to the message in order to hammer it through. This is not a song that can function with half-hearted singing, you need the bombast that the Four Tops provide. You believe in them because they’re putting it all out there, so it feels as though the promise to love, cherish, comfort and so on means something. They give it their all in the declaration, so it’s believable their devotion will translate to real life. It’s the performer and song, working together in harmony.