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.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 138

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.

I WANT MY MTV!!!

It was 39 years ago today that this channel premiered and music was never the same again.  A station dedicated to letting the world see the music (and the people behind it) as well as hear it was revolutionary.  The rotation began with maybe 10 videos but that did not prevent me from watching it non-stop for hours at a time.  Music videos changed the game for fans and the industry alike.  But unlike streaming that has caused artists to lose control of their own copyrighted material in addition to their earnings, MTV was a money mother lode for anyone willing to climb on board the novel concept.

At first it was newer artists that appeared frequently on the channel, but eventually everyone jumped on the bandwagon.  Some ran with the concept-Hall & Oates, Huey Lewis & The News, Billy Squier, Michael Jackson-to name a few.  Soon even my heroes were embracing the genre.  Remember a pre-“Friends” Courtney Cox’s fancy footwork with Bruce Springsteen in the “Dancing In The Dark” video?  Or watching Eric Clapton’s beautiful hands play fiery solos on his Strat while singing “Pretending” in the pouring rain?  Or an elegantly dressed Marvin Gaye extolling the benefits of “Sexual Healing”?  Videos from other 1970’s artists followed including Elton John, Rod Stewart, Steve Winwood and a host of others who welcomed and embraced the new MTV audience.

Vintage clips of great musical moments were featured like the Beatles first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”, performances from the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival and the 1969 Woodstock concerts as well as the live broadcast of 1985’s “Live Aid” show from both America & the U.K.  Suddenly our living rooms were front row seats to the best music had to offer.  And thanks to directors from the TV & movie industries getting in on the trend (“Dressed To Kill” director Brian De Palma was the man behind Springsteen’s first clip), by the end of the decade and into the 1990’s videos became an art form.  The “Unplugged” series introduced us to the more intimate side of live performances.  Other music stations including VH1, BET and FUSE followed, but none compared to the original and its level of cool.

If there is one song that defined the early years of the MTV phenomenon, it is today’s.  While the references to homosexuals are outdated & considered offensive in this era of acceptance, and the once ground breaking channel is merely a reality show based venue in these days of YouTube and Instagram stories, this song still has the power to instantly transport those of us who were there at the beginning to the excitement of the new medium.  And to the poor choice some people made to wear sweatbands in their videos.

Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothing and your chicks for free“.

The MTV moon man logo circa 1981 (R) and John Illsley (bass guitarist)  and Mark Knopfler (lead guitarist) of Dire Straits circa 1985.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Dire Straits:  “Money For Nothing” (1985, written by Mark Knopfler and Sting a/k/a Gordon Sumner).

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 111

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?

Kerouac

(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 can never get enough of my favorite version of today’s song.  Not only is it sung by one of my top musical heroes, but he also put so much of himself into his interpretation while being respectful of the fact that he was singing our country’s National Anthem.  The list of people who have performed this song is too numerous to list, but only a handful of people have made it truly memorable.  I think today’s is simply outstanding.  I thought I would share it to close out the holiday weekend on a high soulful note.

marvin NBA game
  Marvin Gaye at the 1983 NBA All Star Game.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye:  “The Star Spangled Banner” (as performed on February 13, 1983 at the NBA All Star Game in California.  Written by Francis Scott Key (lyrics in 1914) and John Stafford Smith (music circa 1773).

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 102

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?

Kerouac

(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.

If you ask most people who the greatest band of all time is. many will tell you The Beatles.  However, the question as to who comes in second would spark a debate by fans and music scholars alike since there are so many to consider.  But not for me.  Only one answer is clear.  It is The Funk Brothers.

They were a group of blues and jazz musicians who became the house band at the Motown label for 14 years, from 1959 until 1972.  Look at those dates again carefully because what they reveal is every song recorded for the label in the 1960’s had The Funk Brothers on it.  That is every song by Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Marvelettes, The Supremes, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Martha & The Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Junior Walker & The All Stars and every other act on the label during that time.  That is an absolutely staggering accomplishment.

The Funk Brothers story was told in the 2002 documentary, “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown”.  During the opening credits it is revealed they played on more number one hit records than Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys combined.   Even the word genius does not seem to adequately describe that achievement.  And the only reason why their streak ended is because Berry Gordy moved the label’s base of operation from Detroit to Los Angeles without including the band in the relocation.  And prior to that they were never given the proper recognition they deserved during Motown’s heyday.

The film identified 13 men as Funk Brothers.  Remember the Apostles were 13 when they were with Jesus.  Coincidence or the second coming?  You decide.  Outside of the Motown label they played on The Contours “Do You Love Me”, Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” and on the song “Boom Boom” by one of the greatest blues singers to ever pick up a guitar, John Lee Hooker.

Of course, the songwriters and performers were needed to deliver the sound created by The Funk Brothers, but without their incredibly talented and intense consistent playing the songs would have never soared like they did.  For example, today’s song was written by the same two men who wrote Gaye’s smash “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and I find it nothing short of hypnotic.  There is a lead guitar riff played quickly and sporadically throughout the song that just reaches inside me and leaves me gasping for air despite it being all around me.  It is just that intense.

A couple of my musical heroes list Motown/Funk Brothers songs as ones they cannot live without.  For Eric Clapton it is “I Was Made To Love Her” by Stevie Wonder.  For Bruce Springsteen it is two (because he is just that cool):  “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye & “Baby I Need Your Lovin'” by The Four Tops.  Covers of Motor City songs were made by The Beatles (“You Really Got A Hold On Me”) Rod Stewart (“I Know I’m Losing You”), The Rolling Stones (“Going To A Go-Go”) and countless others.  Motown’s influence, lead by the music of The Funk Brothers, is so far reaching it would be nearly impossible to comprehend.  But without it, the landscape of music would be devoid of soul.  I may bow at other altars of music, but I am brought to my knees in the church of the Brothers Funk.  Can I get an amen?

Stevie Wonder in the Motown studio with some of The Funk Brothers circa 1967 and the movie poster for 2002’s “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown” (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Marvin Gaye featuring the music of The Funk Brothers:  “That’s The Way Love Is” ( 1969, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong).

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 89

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?

Kerouac

(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.

As my rock heroes get older, I have noticed a growing and somewhat disturbing trend for them to tell their stories in a documentary.  My guess is if they do it while they are alive they will be able to control the narrative.  I get that.  Does the movie reveal things you never knew?  Yes.  For example, in “Eric Clapton:  Life In 12 Bars”, I learned that when he and his band, Cream, came to America in 1967 to record it was in the hallowed halls of Atlantic Records.  He saw people like Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin coming and going.  In fact, he sat in on a rehearsal session with her and her band.  I never knew that (and, oh my God, wow!!!  Just imagining the three of them in the same building at once…swoon!).  I enjoyed discovering that.  And the audio and pictures of Clapton with Duane Allman & Jimi Hendrix are gold. 

I did not need to see, however, all the clips of him drinking so excessively and taking drugs.  His battles with addiction are well documented (his 2007 book, “Clapton: The Autobiography” came out the same year his ex-wife Pattie Boyd released hers).  Message received.  He was an addict.  But he has been sober 33 years which is basically a footnote at the end of the movie.  Watching a man I worship, love & admire in such a painful self-destructive place that he snorted cocaine from a switch blade was not only unnecessary, it seemed purely exploitive.  The director, a friend of Clapton’s, already included a number of clips of him using the drug without the knife.  She made no mention of the movies he’s been in (“Tommy”, “Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll”, “Blues Brothers 2000”) & basically skipped over his career in the 1980’s, too.  I was hoping to see behind the scenes clips of him making videos (he was a staple on MTV & VH1), or at the Live Aid show or anything else from such a prolific decade of his.  I still recommend it if you have not seen it since this is Clapton, after all.  But just know it is a very hard watch which Clapton himself has stated in several interviews about the film.

To cheer myself up (and to stop from shaking), I went back to watch a doc I missed, 2013’s “History of The Eagles”.  I loved this band growing up and Don Henley’s solo records in the 1980’s.  I knew all about the friction between him and bandmate Glenn Frey so I was prepared for that but otherwise I looked forward to the band’s story.  Or maybe not.  Working under the philosophy that a band is not a democracy but rather an entity requiring leadership, Henley & Frey ran the show.  Period.  And when they were not fighting.  I realize both men had successful solo careers so perhaps maybe that lead to their decision, but those careers sprang from years with a hugely successful band of more than two members.  And both men require co-writers with a lot, if not all of their songs, so they are not doing it all alone.  I know egos go hand in hand with many rock stars, but seeing how arrogant Henley & Frey were towards their bandmates or just in general, particularly Henley, this film neither cheered nor soothed me.  It just made me mad.

I think I need to stop watching documentaries on musicians.

Today’s song is still my favorite solo number from Henley, but true to form I could not find the studio version on YouTube.  It is 2020, we are in the throes of a pandemic where so many of the elite are offering free streaming services or virtual tours, and Henley still refuses to post his videos.  It goes back to a grudge he (and many in the industry) had against the free uploads not paying artists their royalties.  I completely agree that any artist should be paid for their copyright.  But in the last decade, many artists started their own official YT channels to counteract the illegal uploads including Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, the estate of Marvin Gaye and so many others.  Henley has a channel, too, but mostly of live performances.  I do not believe their are any legal issues with his video copyrights, but perhaps there are which is why they cannot be uploaded.  But I am only speculating.  As a fan I find it frustrating, especially because there is such a pretty video for it which I hate not being able to see.  But this live version is the best I could do.

henley

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Don Henley:  “The Heart Of The Matter” (1989, written by Mike Campbell, Don Henley & J.D. Souther).

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 76

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.

Prayers for peace & safety for us all, both here and in space, on this last Sunday of May 2020.

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today 

Father, father
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today.”

Marvin

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye:  “What’s Going On” (1971, written by Al Cleveland, Renaldo Benson & Marvin Gaye).

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.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 17

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.

Today’s marks what would have been Marvin Gaye’s 81st birthday.  He sang some of the greatest songs to come out of the Motor City including today’s pick.  It was his first career number one record, and for a while it was the best selling hit on the Motown label, spending seven weeks in the top spot.

I can still remember the first time I heard this song.  I was sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car and from the second it came on the radio, I felt something inside of me tremble.  Like a part of me I did not even know I had suddenly woke up and made its presence known.  It was strong, and steady and felt so familiar yet so new at the same time.  It was as if I suddenly had an internal voice that was singing all on its own without any help from my real voice. Years later I would hear the phrase “soul music” and I realized that is why they call it that-because it is music that hits you in the deepest place.  And that is what I felt in the car that day.

Gaye had one of the greatest voices ever, not just in the soul genre.  He was also a talented musician playing piano, synthesizers and drums.  Despite being a solo artist he performed several duets during his career, most notably with Tammi Terrell.  He also wrote and/or co-wrote several hits for other artists including Martha & the Vandellas (“Dancing In The Street”), the Marvelettes (“Beechwood 4-5789″) and the Originals (“Baby, I’m For Real”).  He wrote many of his own songs as well, and as the turbulence of the 1960’s became too hard for him to ignore, he channeled his feelings into songs about the war (“What’s Going On”), social injustice (“Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”) and the state of the environment (“Mercy Mercy Me”), amongst others.  

Gaye took some time off in the late 1970’s for personal reasons including his exit from the Motown label.  He signed with CBS Records and came back stronger than ever in 1982 with his album “Midnight Love” which included another number one hit, “Sexual Healing”.  That song earned him his first two Grammy Awards after over 20 years as a recording artist.  Also in 1983, he sang an incredibly soulful rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the NBA All Star Game.  While he was in the middle of his enormous comeback tour, I was lucky enough to see him give a magnetic performance at Radio City Music Hall.  It was one of the greatest nights of my life.

So many singers have died tragically young either by drugs, plane crashes, car accidents or suicide.  But Gaye was the third of my musical heroes to be shot to death-first Sam Cooke (one of Gaye’s idols) in 1964 and then John Lennon in 1980.  In those two tragedies both men died by a stranger’s hand.  Gaye was killed by his own father 36 years ago yesterday.  I have never fully recovered from the senselessness of that act.  I wonder almost daily what else this unbelievably talented man would have accomplished in his career.

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye circa 1977 (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye:  “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (1968, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong).

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

Stay well.