Let’s Take A Moment Day 387

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 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.

Time for another mid-week Motown break. In July 1964 The Four Tops released today’s song which became their first Top 20 hit. It featured the quartet’s signature sound & harmonies enhanced by the label’s female session singers, The Andantes-Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps. Of course the track also featured the music of The Funk Brothers with a nice assist from The Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Twenty-one years later in July 1985, The Tops performed at Live Aid in Philadelphia, followed by Eric Clapton. In his autobiography he admitted he was nervous to perform after them because they were legends. That is some serious & well deserved respect.

“Some say it’s a sign of weakness
For a man to beg
Then weak I’d rather be
If it means having you to keep”.

Four-Tops

The Four Tops circa 1967 (L-R): Renaldo Benson, Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir and Lawrence Payton. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Four Tops: “Baby I Need Your Loving” (1964, 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 380

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?

March 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.

Time for a mid-week Motown break. April 2 will mark the 82nd birth anniversary for the man behind one of the first voices I fell in love with, Marvin Gaye. I still ache from his loss nearly 40 years ago but I continue to be amazed at how vital & progressive his music & lyrics remain. His 1971 seminal album, What’s Going On, touched on the issues we are still struggling with today yet continue to provide so much comfort to those of us who get lost in music to find hope that humanity will someday find a way to peacefully co-exist in the world we all inhabit.

I love all the songs on the album and each track hits a nerve, but today’s pick has hit closest to home for me since I was a kid. At that time I did not understand or was even aware of war, the struggle faced by those who serve & racial inequality. But I was very aware of pollution. I remember hearing so much about it on TV, especially about what aerosol sprays were doing to the ozone layer and how littering was ruining our air & water quality.

One of the most profound memories I have is the commercial of the Native American shedding a tear as he stood near a street where some horrible soul threw garbage right at his feet. And then the ominous voice delivering the stern message: “Some people have a deep abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country. And some people don’t. People start pollution. People can stop it”

Isn’t it funny how certain images from our childhood never leave us? And isn’t it a relief to have songs that continue to deliver the messages we still need to hear, especially the music by the magnificent Marvin Gaye?

Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain’t what they used to be no, no
Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas
Fish full of mercury
“.

Marvin gaye

Marvin Gaye’s 1971 groundbreaking album. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” (1971, written by 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 352

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?

March 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.

Time for our first mid-week Motown break for March. Today’s song was a #4 hit in 1963 for Martha & The Vandellas and then a #5 hit in 1975 for Linda Ronstadt. But like most Holland-Dozier-Holland composed gems, it shines in any decade.

Sometimes I stare in space
Tears all over my face
I can’t explain it, don’t understand it
I’ain’t never felt like this before
“.

Martha R

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Martha & The Vandellas: “Heatwave” (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 342

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.

Today’s song is a bonus Motown break in celebration of Smokey Robinson’s 81st birthday. Born February 19, 1940 in Detroit, MI, where he would become as important to the label as founder Berry Gordy was. Robinson did it all: sang, wrote songs, produced records, discovered talent & was part of The Miracles until he was singled out as the headliner. He had a successful solo career after he left the group in the early 1970’s because Robinson was a force all on his own. However, I do not think he ever sounded better than when he was with The Miracles. Happy birthday, Smokey & to fellow Miracle Robert Edward “Bobby” Rogers who shared the same birthday (February 19, 1940*March 3, 2013).

Just like Pagliacci did
I try to keep my sadness hid
Smiling in the crowd I try
But in my lonely room I cry
“.

Miracles

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles circa 1967 (L-R): Smokey Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Claudette Robinson, Ronnie White and Warren “Pete” Moore. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: “The Tears Of A Clown” (1967, written by Hank Cosby, William “Smokey” Robinson Jr, 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 338

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.

Time for another mid-week Motown break. Not every artist on the label became a household name, but that does not mean their impact was not substantial. One of the best examples of that was a group led by saxophonist and vocalist Autry DeWalt Mixon Jr. who was known professionally as Junior Walker. He & his band, The All Stars, had hits like “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)”, “(I’m A) Road Runner” & today’s song which Walker also wrote.

It is an absolute powerhouse of a song, combining the soul of The Funk Brothers with a touch of jazz and rhythm & blues to give it even more of a kick. Walker’s intense vocal & interpretation of the lyrics, not to mention his fiery sax solos elevate the tune from a song to a three minute block party. It was a top ten hit on the singles chart & a #1 hit on the R&B charts for four non-consecutive weeks in 1965.

By 1979 the group disbanded but reformed a year later. When they were not touring, Walker did some session work for other artists. When I discovered the band Foreigner I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he played saxophone for them, most notably on their 1981 hit “Urgent”.

Put on your high heel shoes
I said we’re goin’ down here to listen to ’em play the blues
We’re gonna dig potatoes
We’re gonna pick tomatoes
“.

jrwalker

Autry DeWalt Mixon Jr., known professionally as Junior Walker circa 1964. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Junior Walker & The All Stars: “Shotgun” (1965, written by Autry DeWalt Mixon Jr. a/k/a Junior Walker).  

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 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 303

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. This one is extra special because it is the anniversary of the label’s launch. On January 12, 1959 Berry Gordy founded the Tamla Record Company which became Motown Records a year later. Gordy may have let his ego get the best of him at times, and perhaps he fought against his artists growing out of the mold of success he set up and he may have even over-supported some acts while ignoring others. But there is no denying the enormity of what he created by hiring some of the best songwriters, musicians & artists to bring his vision to the reality it became. This groundbreaking genre of soul music was introduced to the world through some of the greatest voices I ever heard & one of my favorite quartets of all time.

In and out my life
You come and you go
Leaving just your picture behind
And I kissed it a thousand times
“.

4 tops

The Four Tops circa 1964 (L-R): Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Lawrence Payton, Levi Stubbs and Renaldo Benson. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Four Tops: “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” (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 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 289

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 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 our last mid-week Motown break of 2020. On December 6, 1965 Smokey Robinson & The Miracles released today’s song from the album of the same name. It was the first record after the group changed their name to signify Robinson as the headliner. The Rolling Stones released their own version in 1982, and because it is by The Stones it is a fabulous rendition with a smoking sax arrangement. But I truly love the original because a Motown record always means greatness times two-from the artist & The Funk Brothers.

It doesn’t matter where you are
A go-go can’t be far
You’ll see the people from your block
And don’t be shocked
If you see your favorite star
“.

Miraclesgoingtoagogo

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: “Going To A Go-Go” (1965, written by Pete Moore, William “Smokey” Robinson, Bobby Rogers and Marvin Tarplin).

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

Stay well.