Let’s Take A Moment Day 520

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?

Aug 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.

Time for another mid-week Motown break. Label founder Berry Gordy borrowed $800 from his family in 1958 to start his record company. Tamla Records began operating on January 12, 1959 and led to a few sister labels including Motown Records. A year later that merged with Tamla to form Motown Record Corporation.

After an incredibly successful nearly 30 year run Gordy sold his company to MCA Records and the investment firm Boston Ventures (BV) in 1988 for $61 million dollars. Not a bad return on an $800 loan. But five years later, on August 3, 1993, BV sold the label to Polygram for a whopping $325 million dollars. What a difference five years made.

Your love is fading I can feel your love fading
Girl, it’s fading away from me
‘Cause your touch your touch has grown cold
As if someone else controls your very soul
“.

The-Temptations_(1964_publicity_photo_by_Kriegsmann)

The Temptations circa 1964 (clockwise from top): David Ruffin, Melvin Franklin, Otis Williams, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Temptations: “(I Know) I’m Losing You” (1966, written by Cornelius Grant, Edward Holland Jr 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 482

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?

Tom Petty music quote

(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.

In 1969 a series of concerts took place in New York City. Dubbed “The Harlem Cultural Festival” and held at what is now Marcus Garvey Park, it featured so many of my favorite performers from the Motown soul & gospel genres. These concerts were held over a six week period & most of the shows were recorded. But at the time there was no interest in buying them for a film Those involved did not know if that was because another music festival-Woodstock-was taking place that August or because black music was still considered secondary in the summer of 1969.

Whatever the reason, the tapes of the Harlem shows were left in a basement for 50 years until 2019. At that time they came to the attention of a producer who purchased them & turned them into a film that was released this year. Unbelievable, right? Another shocking aspect to this story? I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THE CONCERTS OR THE MOVIE UNTIL LAST WEEK!!!

I uncovered the film about seven days ago when I went to Hulu for my weekly “Lost” re-watch. Instead I saw the ad for the movie, aptly titled “Summer Of Soul”. It premiered at The Sundance Film Festival in January and in theatres & on Hulu in June. My jaw dropped as I read the info about the film. It spotlights the performances of the incredible artists who were there interwoven with present day interviews with them and others involved in the festival itself.

How could something so incredible like a concert series of this magnitude get shelved for five decades? I am a native New Yorker, not to mention a profound fan of music, yet I lived all these years without even knowing this festival took place??? I cannot help but hang my head in extreme shame.

The film marks the directorial debut of Questlove, the co-frontman & drummer of Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” band, The Roots. In addition to being a musician and songwriter, Questlove has also made a name for himself as a producer, music journalist, author, disc jockey and now film director.

Discovering that an event like this took place but was never a matter of record matches my shock & amazement from the first time I saw “Hidden Figures”. To discover how important women-black women, especially-were assisting the U.S. Space Program & that was left out of the history books we read as kids is astounding. How many young girls might have had different dreams if they knew intelligent groundbreaking women were busting through glass ceilings half a century before? And how many aspiring musicians would have been inspired by this concert series?

But there is so much more to enjoy about this movie than the music. It is a time capsule to revisit the past. A look back at what are now vintage images of the culture at that time, the fashion, the style, the city store fronts and the people is simply hypnotic. The same goes for the clips of archived vintage footage from national news programs regarding the current events of the day like the Vietnam War & the Apollo landing which occurred the same summer. Those were interspersed with local stories about the heroin epidemic, the poverty level & the downward spiral of Harlem in general.

We also get a look at the city’s mayor at the time-John V. Lindsay-as well as a 27 year old minister, Reverend Jesse Jackson, who lead the crowd in a spiritual moment while he gave them his first hand account of watching Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King get shot. Undeniably powerful stuff.

My favorite moments include a newly solo David Ruffin singing “My Girl” sans The Temptations & hitting those high notes in such a remarkable effortless way; Stevie Wonder exhibiting his numerous talents from behind a microphone, a keyboard and a drum set; Sly Stone, the original poster boy for diversity not only as a black performer with white band members but with female ones as well. And they were not just back-up singers, either. They both sang & played instruments like the keyboards & the trumpet. The Family Stone performed three songs “Sing A Simple Song”, “Everyday People” & “Higher” which played as the credits began to roll.

Then there was Nina Simone captivating the audience with her powerful voice as she slammed the piano keys throughout her fierce performance. Gladys Knight & The Pips were on fire as were the gospel numbers, especially The Edwin Hawkins Singers rousing performance of “Oh Happy Day”. One of the women interviewed in the present who attended the show as a teenager summed it up best when she said: “Those artists crossed genres. They were trying to reunite people with music”. I have never been without music but I am just thrilled to be united with this movie. It is that good.

Another group that performed on what was called the festival’s “gospel day” was The Staple Singers. They were a family group comprised of Roebuck “Pops” Staples & his children: son Pervis & daughters Cleotha, Yvonne & Mavis, who turned 82 years young yesterday In addition to singing with her family, Mavis also sang a gospel song with Mahalia Jackson on “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” after Jackson’s stirring speech about and in honor of Rev. King’s favorite church song. It was nothing short of sublime.

In the present interview as the clip of the two women played, Mavis revealed that she still considers that moment her biggest honor and the experience “the time of my life”. She was born July 10, 1939 in Illinois. She & her family moved from gospel to secular music in the mid 1960’s. In 1968 they were signed to Stax Records. By June 1972, they had the #1 song in the country for one week with today’s track. It may be her birthday but it is her audience that receives a gift every time she sings.

Happy birthday, Mavis & here’s to 100 more. And a ginormous thank you to everyone who put this festival together, all the artists who performed there & the people who gave us the movie showcasing it all. It is an astounding treasure.

I know a place
Ain’t nobody cryin’
Ain’t nobody worried
Ain’t no smilin’ faces
“.

Soul picture

Mavis and Mahalia

Top: The movie poster for 2021’s “Summer Of Soul”. Bottom: Mavis Staples (L) and Mahalia Jackson (R) in a still from the film. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

The Staples Singers: “I’ll Take You There” (1972, written by Al Bell).

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 417

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.

If you love Motown and hear the name Ruffin, you probably think of David from The Temptations. But he had an older brother, Jimmy, who was also on the label. He was born on May 7, 1936 in Mississippi and was originally chosen to join the group in 1964. But then they heard David sing and chose him instead. Two years later, Jimmy had a Top Ten hit with today’s song. It is his best known record and has always been one of my favorites.

:I walk in shadows searching for light
Cold and alone no comfort in sight
Hoping and praying for someone to care
Always moving and going nowhere
“.

Ruffin

Jimmy Ruffin (L) and younger brother, David circa 1972. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Jimmy Ruffin: “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted” (1966, written by James Anthony Dean, Paul Riser and William Weatherspoon).

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 310

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. I love so many of the singers from the Motown era, but there are two voices that literally stop me dead in my tracks from the very first note they sing. One is Marvin Gaye & the other is David Ruffin, who had one of the most powerful, angst-filled & remarkable baritone voices of any decade of music. Monday marked the 80th birth anniversary of the most identifiable lead singer behind The Temptations, one of the label’s most successful acts. Ruffin, who was born January 18, 1941 in Mississippi, brought some of the group’s biggest hits to life including “My Girl”, “I Could Never Love Another” (Day 44), “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” (Day 114), “(I Know) I’m Losing You” “Since I Lost My Baby” (Day 226). He influenced singers like Rod Stewart and Daryl Hall to his own Motown contemporaries like Martha Reeves, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.

Today’s song was his debut as a solo artist. It was originally intended for The Temptations to sing, but once Ruffin was dismissed from the group in 1968 he was able to take the song with him. This was because he was signed to the label as a solo performer as he joined the group after they were already signed to the label. The track showcases Ruffin’s range, intensity, torment and rawness all at once. It is a fabulous vocal and a great song which features something not common in most Motown songs-a superb piccolo flute arrangement.

I guess I loved you much too much.
How can I face tomorrow,
When yesterday is all I see?
I just don’t wanna face tomorrow, if you’re not sharing it with me.

David Ruffin

David Ruffin circa 1969. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

David Ruffin: “My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)” (1969, written by Johnny Bristol, Harvey Fuqua, James Roach and Pam 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 259

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.

I have written on several occasions how 1978 was a monumental year in music for me & the industry in general. Well, when the universe gives you something it takes something else away. And the thing it took away from me was my peaceful relationship with my grandmother-for a while, anyway.

For two years she enjoyed listening to my records with me. She may have not remembered the artists names correctly (she called Bad Company “the not so nice visitors”) but I knew what she meant so we were good. Until the first time I played “Slowhand” by my great love Eric Clapton, that is. It started with side one track one, “Cocaine”, and went downhill from there. She asked me what kind of person would write a song about drugs. I thought I was helping by telling her that he was only singing about them, that he did not write the tune. That led her to wonder out loud, “Was he too high to write it, perhaps?” I moved the needle to track two which was “Wonderful Tonight” so that stopped her scolding. But when track three came on, she became irritated again. She ordered me to turn the album off because she thought “Lay Down Sally” was too suggestive for a girl my age. Then she asked where Bruce was (as in Springsteen) and told me to put his music on so she could eat dinner in peace.

A few weeks later I was listening to a Neil Young album I borrowed. All I can tell you is that when “Down By The River” came on, my grandmother decided I must have started taking drugs because how else could I listen to a man brag about shooting someone. My punishment was twofold-I was banned from bringing any new records home for the foreseeable future AND I had to sit through her music shows. That way, she told me, I would hear songs that did not resort to questionable subject matter for shock value. Since she liked country music that meant episodes of “Hee-Haw” & “The Barbara Mandrell Show”. The first one was tough-not because of the music as much as what passed for humor. Mandrell’s music, while not really a favorite of mine, was tolerable. So imagine my grandmother’s horror & dismay when Mandrell premiered her new song, a tale of a woman unapologetic about her love for a married man. Music had beat my grandmother at her censorship game. And I must say, it was not a bad song. But the original was so much better.

It was a big record for singer Luther Ingram in 1972, hitting the #3 spot on the Hot 100 chart & the #1 spot on the R&B chart that year. He was born on this day in 1937 in Jackson, TN and thanks to his deep soulful voice, he had a record deal by the time he was 18. However, he did not see any success until he was signed to a small independent label, Koko Records, in the late 1960’s. They were associated with Stax Records at that time and by 1971, Ingram had co-written the hit song, “Respect Yourself” for that label’s group, The Staple Singers. Three songwriters from Stax wrote the song that Ingram became best known for and despite covers by Mandrell, Rod Stewart, Isaac Hayes David Ruffin and others, it is Ingram’s version that I find most inspired & soulful.

And am I wrong to hunger
for the gentleness of your touch
knowing I got somebody else at home
who needs me just as much
“.

Luther Ingram

Luther Ingram circa 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Luther Ingram: “(If Loving You Is Wrong) ] I Don’t Want to Be Right” (1972, written by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson).

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 226

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?

Thoreau quote 2

(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 a long overdue mid-week Motown break. Today’s song has been covered as a gorgeous ballad by both Luther Vandross (in 1982) and Michael McDonald (in 2003). The uptempo 1965 original by The Temptations features music not only by The Funk Brothers but by The Detroit Symphony Orchestra as well. It was co-written by Smokey Robinson, features the incomparable David Ruffin on lead vocal with an assist from bass singer Melvin Franklin & those luscious backing harmonies. It’s another of The Temps exquisite lost love songs that only Ruffin could tell. The addition of the orchestra only amplifies the power and heartbreak of each note he sings. I think if the heart made noise when it was crying, it would sound exactly like Ruffin’s trademark pleading vocal.

Oh, determination is fading fast
Inspiration is a thing of the past
Can’t see how my hope’s gonna last
Good things are bad and what’s happy is sad
“.

Temps 2

The Temptations circa 1965. Standing (L-R): Paul Williams. Eddie Kendricks and Melvin Franklin, Seated (L-R): Otis Williams & David Ruffin. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Temptations: “Since I Lost My Baby” (1965, written by Warren (Pete) Moore and 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 135

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?

Thoreau music 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.  The Four Tops had tremendous success whether they were singing their own Motown originals or covers like “Walk Away Renee” (first recorded by The Left Banke in 1966), “If I Were A Carpenter” (written & recorded by Tim Hardin in 1967) or “River Deep Mountain High” (originally recorded by Ike & Tina Turner in 1966).  The reason they never missed was because Levi Stubbs was as close to perfection as a vocalist could be.  He had a smooth polished vocal as opposed to the impassioned raw emotion of his Temptations counterpoint, David Ruffin.  I often thought of Stubbs singing to be close in style to Sam Cooke’s while Ruffin’s was more like Otis Redding’s.  All four men had incredible iconic voices, just different styles.

Added to Stubbs’ vocals were the harmonious backing sounds by his group members- Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton-along with the music of The Funk Brothers and the historic magical sound of The Four Tops was complete.  All four members stayed together for 44 years, a record unmatched by any other act on the label.  To this day they remain one of Motown’s most beloved and renowned groups and one of my great loves from that era.

All you left is our favorite song
The one we danced to all night long
It used to bring sweet memories
Of a tender love that used to be.” 

Four Tops

The Four Tops circa 1965 (L-to-R) Renaldo “Obie” Benson, Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, and Lawrence Payton.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Four Tops:  “It’s The Same Old Song” ( 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 114

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?

Thoreau music 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 the first mid week Motown break for July.  And no better place to start than at the top.  Ladies & Gentlemen, The Temptations.

The Temps

The Temptations (L-R):  David Ruffin, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin & Eddie Kendricks.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Temptations:  “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” ( 1966, written by Norman Whitfield and Edward Holland 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 44

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?

music heart

(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 a mid-week Motown break.  Today’s song is by arguably the greatest group of singers (and dancers) to come out of the Motor City .  The Temptations, during the “Classic Five” era with original members Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, and David Ruffin, were enormously successful from January 1964 until June 1968.  At that time, Ruffin was fired from the group due to what was reported to be drug use, unprofessional behavior and ego clashes.  The latter included wanting the group’s name changed to David Ruffin & The Temptations after most of the songs he sang lead on were hits (“My Girl”, “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”, “(I Know) I’m Losing You”, to name a few) and because Motown had just renamed Diana Ross & The Supremes for the same reason.

Ultimately it was Ruffin’s drug use that cut short his singing career despite several chances at reviving it with a solo career in the 1970’s, collaborations with Hall & Oates (including 1985’s “Live At The Apollo”) and The Temptations induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.  But two years later at the age of 50, Ruffin died of an overdose.  He had one of the greatest voices to ever grace a record with a range, intensity and power of someone who had lived a thousand lifetimes.  He and his four other group members made history together, going from “The Hitless Temptations” to the top of the charts, creating some of the best loved records of all time.  There were several other lead singers for the group over the last 50 years, but none could compare to Ruffin.

the temptations
The Temptations circa 1964:  David Ruffin, Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin & Eddie Kendricks
(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Temptations:  “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)” (1968, written by Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong and Rodger Penzabene).

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

Stay well.

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #12…..And A Sad Anniversary

Before we get to today’s countdown song, let’s take a minute to observe the 56th anniversary of the day the music died. On February 3 1959, a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa claimed the lives of musicians Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson a/k/a the Big Bopper and Richie Valens.  Holly was 22, Richardson was 28 and Valens was just 17 years old.  They were all part of a three week long American city tour called the Winter Dance Party.

What a lot of people do not know is that country music legend Waylon Jennings, who was a member of Holly’s new band after he parted ways with the Crickets, was supposed to be on the flight but gave up his seat to Richardson because he had the flu.

If you saw the movie based on Valens’ life story, “La Bamba”, you know that Valens won his seat in a coin toss from another of Holly’s band members.  One more member of the tour, Dion Dimucci (of Dion & the Belmonts), decided he could not afford the ticket for the flight so he passed on a seat.

The crash was so devastating to the music industry and fans alike it was dubbed “the day the music died” then and in Don McClean’s song “American Pie” which was released over a decade after the crash.  Ironically, the song was number one in 1972 on the anniversary of the crash.

The musical influence of Holly and Valens never waned, and both were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and 2001, respectively.  As of 2015, J.P. Richardson has not been elected to the HOF.

For countdown song #12, we visit one of my favorite periods of music ever-the Motown era.  So many of my favorite singers have come from the Motown years:  Marvin Gaye, David Ruffin, Stevie Wonder and Levi Stubbs.  In fact, it is Mr. Stubbs’ group-the  Four Tops-that sang my #12 favorite love song.  “I Believe in You & Me“, written by David Wolfert and Sandy Linzer, was released in 1982.

It is unequivocally one of the highlights of Stubbs’ career, showcasing not only the range of his voice but its passion as well.  His delivery is clear, smooth and so heartfelt it saves the borderline syrupy sentiment of some of the lyrics to ones that are just moving and hopeful.  Even the esteemed Whitney Houston could not deliver her 1996 cover of this song any where close to the beauty of Stubbs’ original.  We lost his voice in 2008, and music in general has never quite sounded the same to me since.

The lyrics refer to love as a miracle, and the older I get and the more I realize how hard true love is to find, I believe romantic love may really be a wonder after all.

Enjoy!!!