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.

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 226

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Thoreau quote 2

(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 long overdue mid-week Motown break. Today’s song has been covered as a gorgeous ballad by both Luther Vandross (in 1982) and Michael McDonald (in 2003). The uptempo 1965 original by The Temptations features music not only by The Funk Brothers but by The Detroit Symphony Orchestra as well. It was co-written by Smokey Robinson, features the incomparable David Ruffin on lead vocal with an assist from bass singer Melvin Franklin & those luscious backing harmonies. It’s another of The Temps exquisite lost love songs that only Ruffin could tell. The addition of the orchestra only amplifies the power and heartbreak of each note he sings. I think if the heart made noise when it was crying, it would sound exactly like Ruffin’s trademark pleading vocal.

Oh, determination is fading fast
Inspiration is a thing of the past
Can’t see how my hope’s gonna last
Good things are bad and what’s happy is sad
“.

Temps 2

The Temptations circa 1965. Standing (L-R): Paul Williams. Eddie Kendricks and Melvin Franklin, Seated (L-R): Otis Williams & David Ruffin. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Temptations: “Since I Lost My Baby” (1965, written by Warren (Pete) Moore and William “Smokey” Robinson 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 213

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Thoreau quote 2

(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 in 1958 Jackie Wilson recorded one of his signature songs. It was another tune co-written by future Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr who also co-wrote “Reet Petite”, “To Be Loved” & “We Have Love” for Wilson the year before. The proceeds earned from these songs helped Gordy start Tamla Records in 1959 which became the iconic Motown label in April 1960. The success of today’s tune also helped establish Wilson as one of the premier R&B singers not only the 1950’s & 1960’s but of all time.

He was born Jack Leroy Wilson Jr. in Detroit, Michigan in 1934. He began singing in church when he was a child which led to him joining a gospel group in his teens. He learned to box during a couple of stints in detention for bad behavior and competed in the local boxing circuit before he quit to marry at 17 because he was going to become a father. He joined several groups (including one with his cousin, future Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs) until Wilson signed a solo record deal with Decca Records subsidiary label, Brunswick, in 1957. “Reet Petite” was his first release which helped launch his career through its moderate success. Between his four octave tenor range and his dynamic dance moves on stage, Wilson earned the nickname “Mr. Excitement” and enjoyed over a decade of success throughout his career.

Unfortunately the rest of his story is not as happy. Wilson was besieged with problems in his personal life including getting shot by a girlfriend, several arrests and legal issues, financial losses & IRS liens due to an embezzling manager as well as multiple children from in & out of his two marriages. He also lost a son, Jackie Jr in 1970 when the 16 year old was shot to death. That sent Wilson into a depressive state which included drug use. In 1975 he suffered a heart attack onstage which left him in a semi-comatose state. He remained in a nursing home until his death from pneumonia in 1984. Wilson left a legacy on music, fans and the performers he influenced especially Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, and Michael Jackson among many others. My mother was a big fan of his & she and my dad were lucky enough to see Wilson perform around 1960 at the acclaimed Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Swoon.

Just give me another chance for our romance
Come on and tell me that one day you’ll return
‘Cause, every day that you’ve been gone away
You know my heart does nothing but burn, crying
“.

Wilson and Elvis

Elvis Presley (L) with Jackie Wilson (R) circa 1959. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Jackie Wilson: “Lonely Teardrops” (As performed on “American Bandstand” in March 1959. Originally released in 1958, written by Berry Gordy Jr, Gwen Gordy & Roquel “Billy” Davis as “Tyran Carlo”).

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 203

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?

Jane Austen Music Quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Forty seven years ago today-October 5, 1973-Elton John released “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. It contained the original version of “Candle In The Wind”, “Bennie & the Jets” (see Day 51), “Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting”, the title track and today’s song. This was the second album I ever bought by John & his sent-from-heaven collaborator, Bernie Taupin (the first was their “Greatest Hits” record from 1974) and I love every track. I spent nearly two years listening to nothing but their albums & my Motown collection before I discovered my other great musical loves (Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, The Beatles), so John & Taupin’s music holds a very special place in my heart. I adore the entire “Brick Road” record, but I was enchanted by today’s track from the first time I heard it, and all these years later that has not changed.

Harmony and me
We’re pretty good company
Looking for an island
In our boat upon the sea
“.

EJ

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elton John: “Harmony” (1973, written by Elton John & Bernie Taupin).

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 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.