Let’s Take A Moment Day 431

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.

Fifty years ago today-May 21, 1971-Marvin Gaye released his masterpiece, What’s Going On. This album was an expression of the angst he was feeling between 1969 & 1970 due to the state of the world-the Vietnam War, the effect of pollution on the environment, racial injustice, poverty-and what was happening in his own world: the break-up of his first marriage, the death of his friend, Tammi Terrell, the trials his brother, Frankie, faced in service to our country & as a veteran returning home from the war to little support in how to rejoin society; Gaye’s inability to break free of the confines of his Motown contract to make the music he wanted to make, his strained relationship with label owner Berry Gordy and Gaye’s money troubles with the IRS due in part to his cocaine addiction.

He co-wrote all nine songs on the album & produced it as well, his first time in that role. Motown’s house band, The Funk Brothers, helped Gaye find the perfect sound for each song. Upon its release, it was hailed as a landmark album not only for the singer but for music as well. It was critically acclaimed as a concept record, a first for Motown, and was considered an important statement for black music, too. The album had three Top Ten hits: “What’s Going On” (Day 76) hit #2 on the main chart, #1 on the R&B chart, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” (Day 380) hit #4 on the main chart, #1 on the R&B chart and today’s song, which was the third single. It hit #9 on the main chart & was another #1 song on the R&B chart.

If Marvin Gaye only gave us his recording of “Grapevine” what a contribution that would have been all by itself. But the legacy of What’s Going On defines not only his talent but his heart, soul, intellect, empathy, strength & compassion for the world around him as well. His was one of the first voices I remember hearing and I have absolutely adored it ever since. The soulfulness, the passion, the intensity & the four octave range of his deep rich baritone to tenor voice, it is a truly beautiful & remarkable instrument. I miss him every single day. Happy anniversary to one of the greatest records ever made by one of the greatest artists who ever lived.

Hang-ups, let downs
Bad breaks, set backs
Natural fact is
Oh honey that I can’t pay my taxes
“.

Marvin 1971

Marvin Gaye circa 1970. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” (1971, written by Marvin Gaye and James Nyx 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 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 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.