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 21

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.

Motown is one of my favorite genres of music.  I cannot even imagine my life without it.  I have always believed that some of the greatest voices in music came out of Detroit and one of them belonged to Levi Stubbs.  He and the other three members of The Four Tops gave us some of the biggest hits to come out of the Motor City, thanks to their collaborations with the label’s premier songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.  The trio wrote many of the group’s biggest hits including “Baby I Need Your Loving”, “Standing In The Shadows Of Love”,  “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” and today’s song.

The Four Tops had the one of the longest runs of any group in any genre of music.  They were together for 44 years before the death of one of the original singers forced them to recruit a new member.  That longevity was due in large part to Stubbs never wanting to strike out on his own once the group became successful.  That was so unlike so many lead singers from groups in all types of music who go on to make solo records during a band’s hiatus or leaving it entirely for a solo career.  Stubbs never never forgot he was part of a group and did not want to outshine the other members of it.  He and his rich powerful baritone voice remained loyal to The Four Tops until his death in 2008.

  Levi Stubbs alone and with The Four Tops circa 1964  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Four Tops:   “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” (1967, 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.

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!!!