Let’s Take A Moment Day 340

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.

I try not to dwell on songs, singers or groups I do not like because even if I am not a fan, someone else is. I may pray for that someone else to acquire better taste in music, but I respect their right to be hopelessly misguided. Also, I realize how much work goes in to making a record from the singer to the songwriter, to the musicians, producers, engineers, record company people who release & market the song to the radio station people who will hopefully decide to play it. It is a long chain with many links. But I am human and sometimes I cannot help myself. For instance, I often write about how fabulous 1978 was for music. And it was. The year before, however, not as much.

It may have had some bright moments with #1 songs like “Got To Give It Up” by Marvin Gaye, “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac (Day 325) and “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder. But the top spot in 1977 also featured irredeemably low moments like “Da Doo Ron Ron” by Shaun Cassidy, “Undercover Angel” by Alan O’Day and “Torn Between Two Lovers” by Mary MacGregor.

So when today’s song hit #1, it was significant for two reasons. The first is it knocked MacGregor’s tune out of the top spot which was the beginning of the end of that song’s central message: please be OK with me cheating on you. Now, I am not stupid, I know some people are unfaithful in relationships. However, I cannot believe it ever happened as that song suggests.

It was co-written by Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul & Mary) and I do not know where he got his intel on women, but I cannot imagine any one of them saying, “Let me hold you close and say these words as gently as I can” when those words were going to reveal she was hitting the sheets with someone else. The woman is going to want to be on the other side of the room while secretly wishing it was the other side of the planet. Not because she is afraid her guy will get physically abusive with her, rather to just give him the space he needs to process the heart shattering & ego destroying news.

And then for her to try to explain herself was just embarrassing. Women hate when men cheat and say “It didn’t mean anything” so how could a woman think a man needed to hear “No one else can have the part of me I gave to you”. All he hears is “There is another part you will never have because the other guy’s got that”. I remember so many older girls & young women I knew found this song empowering. They were happy the woman cheated on the man rather than the other way around. To me cheating on either side is wrong so holding this woman in high esteem was not something I was participating in. But the nerve she had to tell him “I couldn’t really blame you if you turned and walked away, but with everything I feel inside, I’m asking you to stay” Translation: I want to continue seeing you both, so deal with it. How many people of either gender would be okay with that arrangement?

The second reason why today’s song hitting the top spot was significant? It proved to be the only #1 song of Bruce Springsteen’s career to date. He released his original version in February 1973 as the first single from his debut album Greetings From Asbury Park NJ. Sadly, the track failed to chart. Three years later a group from England called Manfred Mann’s Earth Band recorded their cover of the song. On February 19, 1977 it hit #1 for one week in the U.S. So Bruce got a top selling song & MacGregor’s was on its way down. The universe always finds a way to correct itself.

Some silicone sister with her manager’s mister told me I got what it takes
She said I’ll turn you on sonny, to something strong play the song with the funky break,
And go-cart Mozart was checkin’ out the weather chart to see if it was safe outside
And little Early-Pearly came by Annie’s curly-wurly and asked me if I needed a ride
“.

Manfred

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band circa 1977. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band: “Blinded By The Light” (1976, written by Bruce Springsteen).  

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 317

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 & unbelievably our last one for January 2021 already. I tend to see Marvin Gaye’s career with the label in three parts: his early years working with the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland (“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”, “Little Darling (I Need You)”, “You’re A Wonderful One”), the later years featuring the songs written by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield (“I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, “That’s The Way Love Is”, “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”) & his social awareness period (“What’s Going On”, “Mercy Mercy Me”, “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”. Today’s song is my favorite from the early years.

Up early in the morning with her on my mind
Took to find it out all night I been cryin’
But I believe a woman’s a man’s best friend
I’m gonna stick by her till the very end”
.

Marvin

holland_dozier

Top: Marvin Gaye circa 1964. Bottom (L-R): The legendary songwriting team at Hitsville USA circa 1964: Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland and Brian Holland. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “Can I Get A Witness” (1963, 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 312

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.

One of my favorite singers in the 1980’s was Robert Palmer. He might have made pop music but it was so much more sophisticated than the average Top 40 fare thanks to his influences of soul, reggae and rock. He did not look like a typical artist you would see on MTV, either. He was smooth & sophisticated in his custom fitted suits and his debonair persona. Add to that the power & polish of his voice behind hits like “Looking For Clues” “Bad Case Of Loving You”, “Hyperactive”, “Addicted To Love” & “Simply Irresistible”. I really enjoyed his work with The Power Station, especially “Some Like It Hot”. Palmer was one of the few singers who did justice to Marvin Gaye with a cover medley of “Mercy Mercy Me/I Want You” from the 1990 album, Don’t Explain.

I was lucky enough to see Palmer in concert at Radio City Music Hall where he did not disappoint. He made every song sound incredible & look effortless. But I waited all night to hear today’s song from 1978. It was written by Andy Fraser, a songwriter & musician who began his career as the bass player & founding member of the band Free (“All Right Now” Day 182) when he was 15 years old. January 19th marked Palmer’s 72nd birth anniversary and every time I hear today’s song I relive that night at the Music Hall and feel incredibly lucky to have seen this man deliver an unbelievably fabulous show.

Someone’s looking for a lead
In his duty to a king or to a creed
Protecting what he feels is right
Fights against wrong with his life
“.

robert-palmer-front-row-photographs-com

Robert Palmer circa 1986. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Robert Palmer: “Every Kinda People” (1978, written by Andy Fraser).

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 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 273

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?

Dec 14

(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.

On this day 52 years ago-December 14, 1968-Marvin Gaye hit the #1 spot in the country with one of his career defining tracks (and one of my favorite songs of all time), “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. That record was featured on Day 17 so I will use another song from Gaye’s catalog to celebrate this milestone. Today’s pick was recorded live at New York’s acclaimed Apollo Theater in 1963 and remained unreleased for nearly four decades until it was part of the 2001 compilation, “A Motown Christmas, Volume 2”. It is a smooth soulful slightly jazz infused track sung in a way only Gaye could. It is a song that defines the season and until I hear the most famous version of it by Nat King Cole each year, it does not feel like Christmas at all. But now Gaye’s is a must for me as well because one, it is Marvin Gaye and two, it is fabulous. But also, to have something new from a man who died nearly 20 years before this version was released is a gift in and of itself. And for that endowment to be one from the beginning of his career before life, loss & a decade of turmoil took its toll on him is just too momentous for words.

Holiday music contains a core amount of songs, but you can listen to one of them a dozen different ways from the plethora of covers that are out there and it is like hearing a different tune each time. Today’s song has been covered hundreds of times and many artists did it justice. But Gaye’s version is right up there with Cole’s for me and that speaks volume.

And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you
“.

Marvin-Gaye

Marvin Gaye circa 1978. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “The Christmas Song” (Live performance at The Apollo Theatre in 1963. Written by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells).

 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 156

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?

Charlie Brown No Music No Life

(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.  In 1963 Stevie Wonder scored his first #1 song with “Fingertips”.  He was 13 years old.  But for the next two years he could not get a record into the top 20.  When he turned 15 his voice changed and the songwriters he was working with modified their process to adapt to Wonder’s new tenor voice.  He wanted something with a fast tempo to match the pace of The Rolling Stones song, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” which was a huge hit at the time.  The result is today’s song which went to #3 on the charts and began a streak of hit songs that would follow Wonder into the 1970’s.

No football hero or smooth Don Juan
Got empty pockets, you see I’m a poor man’s son
Can’t give her the things that money can’t buy
But I’ll never, never make my baby cry“.

Stevie Marvin

Stevie Wonder (L) and Marvin Gaye (R) in the Motown studios circa 1965.  Gaye played drums for Wonder and several other Motown artists before his own successful recording career.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Stevie Wonder:  “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” (1965, written by Henry Cosby, Sylvia Moy 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 149

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?

Charlie Brown No Music No Life

(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.  As much as Marvin Gaye gained popularity on his own, he also found it as part of a duo.  He recorded one album of duets with Mary Wells (1964’s “Together”) and another with Kim Weston (1966’s “Take Two” which included the top 20 hit, “It Takes Two”).  But when both women left the label after the release of these albums due to business reasons, Gaye found his most successful pairing with Tammi Terrell.  She was 20 years old when she signed with Motown in 1965, after two years as a member of James Brown’s Revue.  Her pairing with Gaye was magic right from the start.  They had three hits in 1967:  “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Your Precious Love” and today’s song.

But it was also in October of the same year that Terrell would collapse onstage in Gaye’s arms due to the discovery of a malignant brain tumor shortly thereafter.  She fought the illness through eight unsuccessful surgeries over the next two and a half years but sadly lost her fight to it on March 16, 1970 at age 24.  According to many friends and several Motown history biographers, Gaye never recovered from losing her.  Shortly after her death his fight with depression and addiction began.  He also entered the studio to write and record a more introspective album.  It became his career defining “What’s Going On” album released May 21, 1971.

In 1983 I was lucky enough to see Gaye in concert at Radio City Music Hall in NYC.  He performed today’s song by himself in a slower tempo while pictures of him & Terrell flashed on a giant screen behind him.  It was one of the most poignant moments I have ever witnessed at a concert.  A year later, almost 14 years exactly after he lost his dear friend, Gaye died, too.  It is no secret that too many of the performers at Motown had such sad endings to their stories.  It breaks my heart that today’s two singers, the ones I adore most of all from that label, had their stories end the same way.  I believe people who bring the world so much happiness with their music should find it themselves.  My heart tells me they have it together now.

If I could build my whole world around you
I’d make your eyes the morning sun
I’d put so much love where there is sorrow
I’d put joy where there’s never been none“.

tammi_terrell_marvin_gaye

Tammi Terrell & Marvin Gaye circa 1967.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell:  “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” (1967, written by Harvey Fuqua, Johnny Bristol and Vernon Bullock).

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

Stay well.