Music Monday: May 16, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

This week is a Motown Music Monday because we have three powerhouses from that genre with birthdays this month. I discovered this polarizing style of singing as a young child thanks to my parents. They bought a K-Tel compilation of this remarkable sound and that four album set changed me in a profound way. The voices from the Motor City became my first great musical love.

Songwriter & producer Norman Whitfield was born in Harlem, NY on May 12, 1940. He co-wrote & produced my favorite Motown song of all time, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” along with other tracks recorded by Marvin Gaye including “That’s The Way Love Is” and “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”. Whitfield was also one of the writers behind Edwin Starr’s “War” and several hits by The Temptations including “I Wish It would Rain”, “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)”, “I Can’t Get Next to You”, “I Know) I’m Losing You” as well as one of today’s featured songs.

After Whitfield left Motown in 1970 when the label relocated to California, he started his own eponymous recording company. His success as a songwriter continued with hits like “Smiling Faces Sometimes” for The Undisputed Truth and the theme song from the 1976 movie, “Car Wash” by Rose Royce. The mark Whitfield left on music, Motown & the industry is indelible. We lost this prolific artist in 2008.

Whitfield

Norman Whitfield circa 1975. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.).

What is left to say about “The Eighth Wonder Of The World”, Stevie Wonder, who turned 72 last week? The child prodigy born Stevland Hardaway Morris on May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, MI began his career in The Motor City at age 11 as Little Stevie Wonder. His career grew even bigger as an adult in the 1970’s with three Album Of The Year Grammy awards for Innervisions (1973), FulfillingnessFirst Finale (1974) and Songs in the Key of Life (1976). His career grew from there and today, with over six decades of musical brilliance under his belt, Wonder continues to show us all how talent is defined.

Stevie wonder

Stevie Wonder circa 1974. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

“The Empress Of Soul” Gladys Knight will celebrate birthday number 78 on May 28. She was born that day in 1944 in Atlanta, GA & began singing in the church by age five. Three years later, she won an amateur hour contest on a local TV show, then joined her brother (future Pip Merald “Bubba” Knight, Jr.) and a few other relatives to form a group, By the late 1950’s, they were signed to Brunswick Records and were opening shows for Jackie Wilson & Sam Cooke. In 1966 Knight & her revised group, The Pips, signed with Motown. But their real success came with their next label, Buddah Records, in the early 1970’s. Knight became a solo act in the following decade & collaborated with the likes of Elton John, Ray Charles, Patti LaBelle and others. She also became part of the James Bond movie music legacy when she recorded “License To Kill” in 1989. She remains one of the greatest female singers of all time.

Gladys 1

Gladys Knight circa 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.).

NOTE: Both Wonder & Knight appear in the stunning Oscar-winning 2021 documentary, “Summer Of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”. If you have not seen it yet, PLEASE stop reading now (you can come back later) and head over to Hulu NOW to watch it. You cannot go another day without the music & performances from this film in your life. You’re welcome.

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

Stevie Wonder: “I Was Made To Love Her” (1967, written by Stevie Wonder, Lula Mae Hardaway, Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby).

Gladys Knight & The Pips: “Midnight Train To Georgia” (1973, written by Jim Weatherly).

Stay well.

Music Monday: January 17, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Temptations’ David Ruffin was born January 18, 1941 in Mississippi. He had one of the best voices in Motown, right on par with Levi Stubbs and Marvin Gaye who was a huge fan of Ruffin’s as well. His group member Eddie Kendricks did a great job on his falsetto led songs. But to me, the achingly impassioned vocal Ruffin delivered on each of his tracks got me. Every. Single. Time. And the strings on this song elevate it to a level of perfection that just makes me swoon.

Girl, I can’t believe my ears
Are you really telling my goodbye?
See, you’ve taken away my reason for livin’
And you won’t even tell me why
“.

Temps

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

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

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.