Music Monday: June 13, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Before The Motor City had Motown it had Mr. Excitement. Jack Leroy Wilson Jr. a/k/a Jackie Wilson was born June 9, 1934 in Detroit, MI. He started singing in his church as a child, then as a member of a few singing groups before releasing his first solo single, “Reet Petite”, in 1957. That was the first in a string of hits he would have throughout the rest of that decade & the next.

My mother was a big fan of Wilson’s and she & my dad went to see this incredible talent at The Apollo Theatre in the early 1960’s. By 1967 Wilson had another hit record with today’s song. Outside of his music career he had a tumultuous and sometimes tragic life. I wish his story had a better ending than it did. But one listen to anything from his catalog proves this man had an opportunity to live his dream. That is no small feat.

I’m so glad, I’ve finally found you
Yes that one in a million girl
And with my loving arms around you, honey
I can stand up and face the world
“.

Jackie Wilson

Jackie Wilson circa 1961. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Jackie Wilson: “(You’re Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher” (1967, written by Gary Jackson, Raynard Miner, and Carl Smith).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: May 16, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

This week is a Motown Music Monday because we have three powerhouses from that genre with birthdays this month. I discovered this polarizing style of singing as a young child thanks to my parents. They bought a K-Tel compilation of this remarkable sound and that four album set changed me in a profound way. The voices from the Motor City became my first great musical love.

Songwriter & producer Norman Whitfield was born in Harlem, NY on May 12, 1940. He co-wrote & produced my favorite Motown song of all time, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” along with other tracks recorded by Marvin Gaye including “That’s The Way Love Is” and “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”. Whitfield was also one of the writers behind Edwin Starr’s “War” and several hits by The Temptations including “I Wish It would Rain”, “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)”, “I Can’t Get Next to You”, “I Know) I’m Losing You” as well as one of today’s featured songs.

After Whitfield left Motown in 1970 when the label relocated to California, he started his own eponymous recording company. His success as a songwriter continued with hits like “Smiling Faces Sometimes” for The Undisputed Truth and the theme song from the 1976 movie, “Car Wash” by Rose Royce. The mark Whitfield left on music, Motown & the industry is indelible. We lost this prolific artist in 2008.

Whitfield

Norman Whitfield circa 1975. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.).

What is left to say about “The Eighth Wonder Of The World”, Stevie Wonder, who turned 72 last week? The child prodigy born Stevland Hardaway Morris on May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, MI began his career in The Motor City at age 11 as Little Stevie Wonder. His career grew even bigger as an adult in the 1970’s with three Album Of The Year Grammy awards for Innervisions (1973), FulfillingnessFirst Finale (1974) and Songs in the Key of Life (1976). His career grew from there and today, with over six decades of musical brilliance under his belt, Wonder continues to show us all how talent is defined.

Stevie wonder

Stevie Wonder circa 1974. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

“The Empress Of Soul” Gladys Knight will celebrate birthday number 78 on May 28. She was born that day in 1944 in Atlanta, GA & began singing in the church by age five. Three years later, she won an amateur hour contest on a local TV show, then joined her brother (future Pip Merald “Bubba” Knight, Jr.) and a few other relatives to form a group, By the late 1950’s, they were signed to Brunswick Records and were opening shows for Jackie Wilson & Sam Cooke. In 1966 Knight & her revised group, The Pips, signed with Motown. But their real success came with their next label, Buddah Records, in the early 1970’s. Knight became a solo act in the following decade & collaborated with the likes of Elton John, Ray Charles, Patti LaBelle and others. She also became part of the James Bond movie music legacy when she recorded “License To Kill” in 1989. She remains one of the greatest female singers of all time.

Gladys 1

Gladys Knight circa 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.).

NOTE: Both Wonder & Knight appear in the stunning Oscar-winning 2021 documentary, “Summer Of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”. If you have not seen it yet, PLEASE stop reading now (you can come back later) and head over to Hulu NOW to watch it. You cannot go another day without the music & performances from this film in your life. You’re welcome.

The Temptations: “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” (1966, written by Norman Whitfield and Edward Holland Jr.).

Stevie Wonder: “I Was Made To Love Her” (1967, written by Stevie Wonder, Lula Mae Hardaway, Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby).

Gladys Knight & The Pips: “Midnight Train To Georgia” (1973, written by Jim Weatherly).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: April 4, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Saturday marked the 83rd birth anniversary for one of the great musical loves of my life. Marvin Gaye was born April 2, 1939 in Washington, D.C. and became one of the most definitive soul voices in music history. Below is the tribute post I wrote for him on my blog from April 2, 2020.

Today’s marks what would have been Marvin Gaye’s 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.

marvin-gaye-1964

Marvin Gaye circa 1964. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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 on April 1, 1984. 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.

People say believe half of what you see, son
And none of what you hear
But I can’t help bein’ confused
If it’s true please tell me dear
“.

Marvin

Gaye circa 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: January 17, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Temptations’ David Ruffin was born January 18, 1941 in Mississippi. He had one of the best voices in Motown, right on par with Levi Stubbs and Marvin Gaye who was a huge fan of Ruffin’s as well. His group member Eddie Kendricks did a great job on his falsetto led songs. But to me, the achingly impassioned vocal Ruffin delivered on each of his tracks got me. Every. Single. Time. And the strings on this song elevate it to a level of perfection that just makes me swoon.

Girl, I can’t believe my ears
Are you really telling my goodbye?
See, you’ve taken away my reason for livin’
And you won’t even tell me why
“.

Temps

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

The Temptations: “I Could Never Love Another (After Lovin’ You)” (1968, written by Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong and Rodger Penzabene).

Stay well.

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2021: Day 11

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the countdown.

day 11

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sam Cooke is considered to be one of the preeminent soul artists in music history. During his career as a singer, songwriter, arranger & business man, Cooke was successful in nearly everything he did. He started performing as a gospel singer with The Soul Stirrers, then embraced secular music as the original soul crooner before playing a significant role in the civil rights movement. His influence was worldwide and inspired many artists, including Motown legend Marvin Gaye.

He was devastated by Cooke’s untimely death in 1964 but Gaye continued Cooke’s legacy of making stunning music with a social conscience. That extended to today’s holiday song which Gaye co-wrote in 1972 to express what his brother & others in service to our country in Vietnam were longing for every day, especially during the Christmas season.

I’d give anything to see
A little Christmas tree
And to hear the laughter
Of children playing in the snow
To kiss my baby under the mistletoe
“.

Sam

Marvin

Top: Sam Cooke circa 1960. Bottom: Marvin Gaye circa 1971. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “I Want To Come Home For Christmas” (1990, written in 1972 by Marvin Gaye and Forest Hairston).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

Music Monday: September 27, 2021

Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the blog for this week’s Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

September 29 will mark my mother’s 82nd birth anniversary. Both of my parents loved music, but since I spent more time with my mother during my early years while my dad was at work it was her influence that molded how I would listen to music for the rest of my life.

For one thing, I definitely share her high tolerance for repetition. If she liked a song, she would listen to it over and over again until she switched it out for the next 45 in her collection. There were about a dozen singles she was crazy about, and until this day I can still recall every single word of each one, no matter how much times passes in between hearing them. I still consider most of them some my favorites as well. Their hold on me is eternal.

I remember being in the car with her when one of those songs came on the radio. Even though we had arrived home & had that record there, my mother purposely drove around the block a couple of times so we could hear the entire song. Then the deejay announced he wanted to listen to the tune one more time so he played it again. My mother was thrilled & drove us around the block a few more times while we sang along with the track a second time. It is one of my most treasured memories.

Screenshot July 2011

My mother, Theresa, December 1968.

Second, she had great taste in music for the most part (we will just ignore her dark period as a fan of The Fifth Dimension. At least I discovered Burt Bacharach & Hal David through them). She loved Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson & Motown, to name a few. If not for her buying a four album K-Tel compilation set of The Motor City’s greatest hits I cannot even imagine if I would have known who The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Miracles or Stevie Wonder were.

Every year as we got close to Halloween she would pull out her “Monster Mash” single and we would dance around while I tried on my costume to make sure it was perfect for the big day. Then we would put the decorations up to bring a more festive vibe to our home. Only Christmas had more preparation to it with tons of holiday music to match. I ache for those days.

It is always so hard for me to choose one song in her memory because there were just so many she loved. But I am able to narrow the list down with the help of Bruce Springsteen. As a fan of Elvis & Wilson himself, I have been at several of The Boss’s shows where he covered their songs as encores. Each time I could not help but think how perfect it was that my great musical love was singings songs by my mother’s great musical loves. And even though she was not there with me physically, I just knew she was loving those moments as much as I was. Music is very much a part of the circle of life.

Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
“.

elvis-presley

Elvis Presley circa 1959. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elvis Presley: “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (1961, written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss).

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

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 549

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?

blog Sept 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.

Several musical variety shows debuted in the 1960’s. One of the best was also one of the most short-lived. Shindig! premiered on September 16, 1964 on the ABC Network in America. It was cancelled 18 months later but during its short run the show featured an impressive array of artists including Aretha Franklin, Jackie Wilson, James Brown, several Motown artists and The Beatles (in an installment filmed in England), to name a few.

The first episode that aired 57 years ago featured soul and R&B master Sam Cooke. He sang three songs that night, two by himself & one with The Everly Brothers who were also guests. One of the songs Cooke sang was written by Bob Dylan. Cooke also performed it at his Copacabana show in June 1964 & it became part of the album, Sam Cooke at the Copa, released a month after his appearance on this show.

This year marked Cooke’s 90th birth anniversary. To watch his vibrancy & utter joy in performing in this clip can only be described as bittersweet. The fact that he would be gone less than three months later is so heartbreaking I cannot even find the words to express it properly. The video may not be the best quality but who cares? It is Sam Cooke & he was too beautiful for words.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky
And how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry
“.

Sam

Sam Cooke circa 1964. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sam Cooke: “Blowin’ In The Wind” (Live performance from ABC’s Shindig! which was broadcast on September 16, 1964. Written by Bob Dylan).

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 513

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?

Aug 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. James Taylor had a Top 5 hit with today’s song in 1975. As much as I love him, in my heart, there is only one version of this song and it is by the beautiful unbelievably talented man that is my soul.

I close my eyes at night
And wonder what would I be without you in my life
Everything was just a bore
All the things I did seems I’d done them before
“.

mm_Marvin-Gaye-1024x725

Marvin Gaye circa 1965. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” (1966, 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 485

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?

Tom Petty music quote

(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. Today’s song was released on July 9, 1968. It was written by the husband & wife songwriting team of Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson. They started writing for the label two years earlier and wrote several other songs recorded by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell including “Ain’t’ No Mountain High Enough”, “Your Precious Love” and “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”. Today’s pick was a Top Ten hit on the main chart & #1 on the R&B chart in 1968. It was also the last song the beautiful Terrell ever sang in public due to her illness & subsequent death in 1970.

Darling in you I found
Strength where I was torn down
Don’t know what’s in store but
Together we can open any door
“.

marvin-gaye-tammi-terrell

Tammi Terrell (L) and Marvin Gaye (R) circa 1967. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: “You’re All I Need To Get By” (1968, written by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson).

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 471

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?

June 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. Last month marked the 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s landmark album What’s Going On (Day 431), which showcased his intelligent socially conscious mind. Two years later, he released another record that revealed an additional side of this brilliant multi-dimensional artist: his romantic sensual side. Today’s song, the album’s title track, was released June 15, 1973. By September of that year, it was a #1 song for two non-consecutive weeks. It became his most successful record with the Motown label.

It turned Gaye into a sex symbol, as did another track from the album, “Distant Lover”. He continued in that role nine years later on his 1982 release, Midnight Love. That record’s first single, “Sexual Healing” was a massive hit & earned him the only two Grammy Awards of his career. It was also the last studio album he ever made.

His life was short and his death was a Shakespearean tragedy. But his years in music were epic as he defined the sound of Motown for an entire generation. Many great singers came out of The Motor City, but to me Marvin Gaye was The Monarch of that label. Nobody grabbed my soul the way he did & continues to do. My heart aches every day over his loss.

We’re all sensitive people
With so much to give
Understand me, sugar
Since we’ve got to be here
Let’s live I love you
“.

the-rake-marvin-gaye-04

Marvin Gaye circa 1973. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “Let’s Get It On” (1973, written by Marvin Gaye and Ed Townsend).

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

Stay well.