Let’s Take A Moment Day 450

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

June 2021 blog

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Jack “Jackie” Leroy Wilson Jr. was born 87 years ago on June 9, 1934 in Detroit, Michigan. His first solo single,1957’s “Reet Petite”, was co-written by Motown founder Berry Gordy. Today’s song was released six years later & was co-written by Wilson himself. He sang, he danced, he wrote songs & performed with everything he had. “Mr. Excitement”, as he was called, was the whole package.

‘Round and ’round we go
Where we stop nobody knows
Yeah the band is swinging on the stand
We’re moving in we’re moving out
“.

J Wilson

Jackie Wilson circa 1989. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Jackie Wilson: “Baby Workout” (Live performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” broadcast March 31, 1963. Written by Alonzo Tucker and Jackie Wilson).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 431

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

May blog 2021

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Fifty years ago today-May 21, 1971-Marvin Gaye released his masterpiece, What’s Going On. This album was an expression of the angst he was feeling between 1969 & 1970 due to the state of the world-the Vietnam War, the effect of pollution on the environment, racial injustice, poverty-and what was happening in his own world: the break-up of his first marriage, the death of his friend, Tammi Terrell, the trials his brother, Frankie, faced in service to our country & as a veteran returning home from the war to little support in how to rejoin society; Gaye’s inability to break free of the confines of his Motown contract to make the music he wanted to make, his strained relationship with label owner Berry Gordy and Gaye’s money troubles with the IRS due in part to his cocaine addiction.

He co-wrote all nine songs on the album & produced it as well, his first time in that role. Motown’s house band, The Funk Brothers, helped Gaye find the perfect sound for each song. Upon its release, it was hailed as a landmark album not only for the singer but for music as well. It was critically acclaimed as a concept record, a first for Motown, and was considered an important statement for black music, too. The album had three Top Ten hits: “What’s Going On” (Day 76) hit #2 on the main chart, #1 on the R&B chart, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” (Day 380) hit #4 on the main chart, #1 on the R&B chart and today’s song, which was the third single. It hit #9 on the main chart & was another #1 song on the R&B chart.

If Marvin Gaye only gave us his recording of “Grapevine” what a contribution that would have been all by itself. But the legacy of What’s Going On defines not only his talent but his heart, soul, intellect, empathy, strength & compassion for the world around him as well. His was one of the first voices I remember hearing and I have absolutely adored it ever since. The soulfulness, the passion, the intensity & the four octave range of his deep rich baritone to tenor voice, it is a truly beautiful & remarkable instrument. I miss him every single day. Happy anniversary to one of the greatest records ever made by one of the greatest artists who ever lived.

Hang-ups, let downs
Bad breaks, set backs
Natural fact is
Oh honey that I can’t pay my taxes
“.

Marvin 1971

Marvin Gaye circa 1970. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” (1971, written by Marvin Gaye and James Nyx Jr.).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 426

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

May blog 2021

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Today’s song hit the #1 spot on the chart today in 1964 where it would stay for two consecutive weeks. It is by the beautiful elegant Queen Of Motown, Mary Wells. She was born May 13, 1943 in Michigan and started singing in her church choir. She auditioned for Berry Gordy in 1960 when he was 17 years old.

He had her work with Smokey Robinson who wrote many of her hits, including her first three released in 1962: “The One Who Really Loves You”, “You Beat Me To The Punch” & “Two Lovers”. But 1964 was the biggest year of her career thanks to today’s song, her duet album with Marvin Gaye entitled Together & her role as the first Motown performer to play in the United Kingdom when she was invited to open for The Beatles on that leg of their tour.

But Wells became displeased with the way Motown operated and despite alleged attempts by Gordy to renegotiate the deal she signed when she was 17, Wells was released from her contract per her request. However, that arrangement meant she could not receive any royalties from her former label.

She had some minor success after leaving Motown but decided to retire in 1974 to raise her four children. But she suffered from many afflictions including depression. a suicide attempt and drug use. In 1990 she was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer which led to her death at age 49 in 1992. Her old collaborator Smokey Robinson delivered the eulogy for the woman most fans remember as The First Lady Of Motown.

As a matter of opinion I think he’s tops
My opinion is he’s the cream of the crop
As a matter of taste to be exact
He’s my ideal as a matter of fact
“.

Mary_Wells_1965

Mary Wells circa 1965. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Mary Wells: “My Guy” (1964, written by William “Smokey” Robinson Jr.).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 342

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Feb 2021 Blog

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Today’s song is a bonus Motown break in celebration of Smokey Robinson’s 81st birthday. Born February 19, 1940 in Detroit, MI, where he would become as important to the label as founder Berry Gordy was. Robinson did it all: sang, wrote songs, produced records, discovered talent & was part of The Miracles until he was singled out as the headliner. He had a successful solo career after he left the group in the early 1970’s because Robinson was a force all on his own. However, I do not think he ever sounded better than when he was with The Miracles. Happy birthday, Smokey & to fellow Miracle Robert Edward “Bobby” Rogers who shared the same birthday (February 19, 1940*March 3, 2013).

Just like Pagliacci did
I try to keep my sadness hid
Smiling in the crowd I try
But in my lonely room I cry
“.

Miracles

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles circa 1967 (L-R): Smokey Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Claudette Robinson, Ronnie White and Warren “Pete” Moore. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: “The Tears Of A Clown” (1967, written by Hank Cosby, William “Smokey” Robinson Jr, and Stevie Wonder).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 303

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Time for another mid-week Motown break. This one is extra special because it is the anniversary of the label’s launch. On January 12, 1959 Berry Gordy founded the Tamla Record Company which became Motown Records a year later. Gordy may have let his ego get the best of him at times, and perhaps he fought against his artists growing out of the mold of success he set up and he may have even over-supported some acts while ignoring others. But there is no denying the enormity of what he created by hiring some of the best songwriters, musicians & artists to bring his vision to the reality it became. This groundbreaking genre of soul music was introduced to the world through some of the greatest voices I ever heard & one of my favorite quartets of all time.

In and out my life
You come and you go
Leaving just your picture behind
And I kissed it a thousand times
“.

4 tops

The Four Tops circa 1964 (L-R): Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Lawrence Payton, Levi Stubbs and Renaldo Benson. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Four Tops: “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” (1965, written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 296

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Time for the first mid-week Motown break of the year. That means it needs to be extra special. Queue Marvin Gaye. In 1972 he was getting ready to release the follow-up to his enormously successful album, What’s Going On. The new record was poised to contain socially relevant material like its predecessor. The first single & title track, “You’re The Man“, was released first but between its less than stellar performance on the pop charts (it was a top 10 hit on the R&B one) & the continued clashes with label owner Berry Gordy over the politically charged material, Gaye cancelled the new album’s release.

Many of the songs were eventually introduced decades after they were recorded, including today’s song which was part of his 1995 posthumous boxed set, “The Master, 1961-1984”. Then in March 2019 Motown & Universal Music released the lost album in its entirety to coincide with Gaye’s 80th birth anniversary on April 2.

Today’s track is both beautiful & heartbreaking and not just because it was lost for nearly 25 years. The song begins with a message from the singer to parents. When addressing the mother, he mentions children in the plural sense. But when speaking to the father, the word is singular as if Gaye was speaking directly to his own parent and we all know the tragic nature of that relationship. I cannot verify if Gaye changed the lyrics for himself or merely followed the original text. The song was written by two women so perhaps they made the distinction, but there is not a lot of information online for me to be sure. Performing artist Carleen Anderson (who happens to be James Brown’s goddaughter) released her own version of the tune in 1998 and followed Gaye’s lyrics. Whatever the truth is behind the song, it is one of his most stirring vocals.

The song opens with an intense guitar solo and its message, delivered in Gaye’s pleading vocal, is crystal clear: Everyone needs to be accepted for who they are & not be molded into someone’s idea of who they should be. A timeless message that holds true for every generation from a man who moved from his gospel roots to secular songs to become one of the most important voices for soul music & social conscience in history.

Father stop
Criticizing your son
Mother please
Leave your daughters alone
Don’t you see that’s what wrong
With the world today oh
Everybody wants somebody
To be their own piece of clay”.

Marvin

Marvin Gaye’s lost 1972 album, “You’re The Man”, was released in 2019. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “Piece Of Clay” (1995, written by Gloria Jones and Pamela Sawyer).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 247

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

kurt v

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Time for another mid-week Motown break. The most well known songwriting team to come out of the Motor City was undoubtedly Holland-Dozier-Holland. Just behind them, however, was the prolific duo of Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield. They wrote some of my favorite Marvin Gaye songs (“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (Day 17), “That’s The Way Love Is” (Day 102), “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”), a few of my favorite Temptations’ songs (“I Wish It would Rain”, “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You) (Day 44)”, “I Can’t Get Next to You”), Edwin Starr’s “War” and many others.

Strong was one of the first singers signed to Motown (when it was originally known as Tamla Records) and was the voice behind its first hit, 1959’s “Money (That’s What I Want)”. He was originally credited as a writer as well (along with label founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford) but Gordy claimed that was an error and eventually removed Strong’s name. But he clearly displayed a talent for songwriting as his & Whitfield’s catalog clearly proves, including today’s song. It may not be as well known as Gaye’s hits and the group behind it may not be as famous as The Temptations (who recorded this tune first) but it is still one fabulous track. And it offers some of the best advice I think anyone has ever received from a song.

Smiling faces show no traces
Of the evil that lurks within (can you dig it?)
Smiling faces, smiling faces, sometimes
They don’t tell the truth”.

Strong vWhitfield

undisputed truth

Top: Barrett Strong (seated) and Norman Whitfield circa 1972. Bottom: The Undisputed Truth (L-R): Billie Rae Calvin, Joe “Pep” Harris ( lead singer) and Brenda Joyce Evans circa 1971. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

The Undisputed Truth: “Smiling Faces Sometimes” (1971, written by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 170

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Bruce quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Time for another mid-week Motown break.  I adore Martha & The Vandellas.  Lead singer Martha Reeves met Vandella Rosalind Ashford in the late 1950’s when she joined her and another singer, Annette Beard, in a group called The Del-Phis.  By 1962 they were known as The Vels backing up Marvin Gaye on his song, “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow”.  Then the female singers recorded a demo for Motown in singer Mary Wells absence and were offered a recording contract by label president Berry Gordy.  At that point they christened themselves by the group name they would become famous with.  In 1964 Beard left the group to have her first child so she was replaced by Betty Kelley, who joined just in time to record the trio’s signature hit, “Dancing In The Street”.  Kelley was fired from the group during the summer of 1967 allegedly for arguments with Reeves and for missing performances.  But a lot of the tension in the group came from declining record sales & their loss of Gordy’s support of them and many other Motown artists while he took over Diana Ross’ career to turn her into the first lady of the label.  By 1972 the group broke up when Reeves pursued a solo career.  That was the end of my favorite female group from the Motor City.   But in their prime, Martha & The Vandellas made some great music.

Each night as I sleep, into my heart you creep
I wake up feelin’ sorry I met you, hoping soon that I’ll forget you
When I look in the mirror to comb my hair
I see your face just a smiling there“.

Vandellas

Martha and the Vandellas in 1965. (L-to-R) Rosalind Ashford, Martha Reeves, and Betty Kelley.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Martha & The Vandellas:  “Nowhere To Run” (1965, written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 58

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Peanuts music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Berry Gordy may have started Motown, but William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr. was its heart and soul.  He co-wrote many hits for other artists on the label as well as the ones for his group, The Miracles.  This is my favorite song from them.

Smokey

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles:  “The Tracks Of My Tears” (1965, written by William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr., Warren Moore and Marvin Tarpin).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

25 Days Of Christmas Songs: Day 21

Hello, Vixens!!!  Welcome back to the countdown.

durango-co-christmas

(Original source unknown)

My love for Motown is immense.  I have adored it since I was a kid, thanks to my parents.  They bought one of those K-Tel compilations which consisted of four albums of the Motor City’s greatest hits and the rest is history.

So many great songs and singers came out of that era, and to this day four of them are still on my list of favorite voices of all time:  Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, David Ruffin (lead singer of the Temptations) & Levi Stubbs (lead singer of the Four Tops.

Despite the fact that Motown gave us some of the greatest music ever made, so many of the holiday music recorded by those artists is hardly ever heard during the Christmas season.  With radio stations starting earlier and earlier every year to play holiday songs, I do not know how this era of music gets overlooked.  I listen to these four Christmas songs year round, and maybe after hearing them you will understand why.

marvin gaye     Temptations

Marvin Gaye (R) – The Temptations (L) (original sources unknown)

Stevie Wonderthe-four-tops-abdul-duke-fakir-levi-everett

Stevie Wonder (R) – The Four Tops (L) (original sources unknown)

Marvin Gaye:  “I Want To Come Home For Christmas

Stevie Wonder:  “What Christmas Means to Me

The Four Tops:  “Away In A Manger

The Temptations:  “Silent Night

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you   🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!