Let’s Take A Moment Day 114

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 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.

Time for the first mid week Motown break for July.  And no better place to start than at the top.  Ladies & Gentleman, The Temptations.

The Temps

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

The Temptations:  “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” ( 1966, written by Norman Whitfield and Edward Holland 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 105

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.

Blue eyed soul is a weakness of mine, but given my love for all things Motown that is certainly not surprising.  There are several singers who do it exceedingly well and today’s song showcases one of the best.  Daryl Hall & John Oates have had a phenomenal run as one of the most successful duos in music history, and part of that success is due to Hall’s soulful voice.  There are so many of their songs that showcase his incredible gift, but my favorite is the song that first introduced them to audiences back in 1975.

Hall and Oates

Daryl Hall (L) and John Oates (R) at the 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Brooklyn, NY.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Hall & Oates:  “Sara Smile” ( 1975, written by Daryl Hall & John Oates).

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 93

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.

In many interviews given over the past five decades, Gladys Knight has stated she and her group, the Pips, were basically treated like the step-children of Motown, only recording songs left over after groups like The Temptations & The Supremes passed on them.  By 1972, she & the Pips decided to record their last album for the label and make a fresh start.  It worked because their first record at their new home-“Midnight Train To Georgia”- was a smash.  Today’s song was their penultimate hit for Motown.  Knight can sing anything but to me she never sounds better than when she sings a ballad.

Neither_one_of_us_album

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Gladys Knight & the Pips:  “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)” (1972, written by Jim Weatherly).

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 85

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.

Although Moton’s premier songwriting team, Holland–Dozier–Holland, left the label in 1967, it did not stop them from writing and producing great songs.  They just had to do it under an alias since there was a lawsuit pending.  They also were still in contact with the label’s house band, The Funk Brothers, who played on today’s song recreating the winning combination achieved on so many of the Motor City hits.  All that was needed was a singer.  The songwriters offered the song to Freda Payne and she took it to number 3 in 1970.  The string interlude arrangement @ 1:37 is one of my all time favorites ever.  It just kicked this song to the next level from great to absolutely glorious.  I have reveled in the beauty of this song from the first time I heard it, and fall more in love with each listen.

Freda Payne
 (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Freda Payne:  “Band Of Gold” (1970, written by Edythe Wayne and Ron Dunbar).

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 58

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.

Berry Gordy may have started Motown, but William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr. was its heart and soul.  He co-wrote many hits for other artists on the label as well as the ones for his group, The Miracles.  This is my favorite song from them.

Smokey

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles:  “The Tracks Of My Tears” (1965, written by William “Smokey” Robinson, Jr., Warren Moore and Marvin Tarpin).

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 31

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.

The early 1960’s introduced us to the Motown sound out of Detroit.  In the late 1960’s-early 1970’s we were presented with Philly Soul from-where else- Philadelphia.  Motown enthroned us with power groups like The Temptations, The Four Tops & The Miracles.  Philly Soul blessed us with the likes of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, The O’Jays and the group I am most grateful for from that genre-The Stylistics.  And the reason is today’s song.

Where the other groups were lead by singers with booming mostly baritone voices, the Stylistics were lead by the falsetto of Russell Thompkins Jr.  That unique sound combined with the Philly Soul staple of gorgeous string & horn arrangements set this group apart from the others.  It also gave them a dozen consecutive top ten hits in the 1970’s.  I really like almost every one of them, but I think today’s song is an absolute masterpiece.

Stylistics

The Stylistics circa 1972 (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Stylistics:  “You Are Everything” (1971, written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed).

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 21

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.

Motown is one of my favorite genres of music.  I cannot even imagine my life without it.  I have always believed that some of the greatest voices in music came out of Detroit and one of them belonged to Levi Stubbs.  He and the other three members of The Four Tops gave us some of the biggest hits to come out of the Motor City, thanks to their collaborations with the label’s premier songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.  The trio wrote many of the group’s biggest hits including “Baby I Need Your Loving”, “Standing In The Shadows Of Love”,  “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” and today’s song.

The Four Tops had the one of the longest runs of any group in any genre of music.  They were together for 44 years before the death of one of the original singers forced them to recruit a new member.  That longevity was due in large part to Stubbs never wanting to strike out on his own once the group became successful.  That was so unlike so many lead singers from groups in all types of music who go on to make solo records during a band’s hiatus or leaving it entirely for a solo career.  Stubbs never never forgot he was part of a group and did not want to outshine the other members of it.  He and his rich powerful baritone voice remained loyal to The Four Tops until his death in 2008.

  Levi Stubbs alone and with The Four Tops circa 1964  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Four Tops:   “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” (1967, 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 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.

 

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 2

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

I love vintage Christmas card images.  I found this one online and could not resist sharing it with you.  Outdoor Christmas trees covered in snow are magical to me.

day 2

Original source unknown.  

Today’s song was written in 1962 and became a hit the following year for Bing Crosby.  His version is a traditional  take on this tune and holds up well, but the song was never really a favorite of mine.  Maybe that’s why despite the dozens of versions that have been introduced to the world in the past 56 years I never really took notice.  Then I heard this group’s soulful cover and all that changed.

The lead singer has one of the best voices to come out of Motown, where she and her group first found success.  She began singing in church at age four and by age 7 she won her first award on a TV amateur hour.  Her unbelievably powerful vocal range gave their recordings equal doses of grace and grit which were framed by the luscious harmonies of her back-up group.  And their dance moves and choreography only added to the experience of watching them perform.  They had many hits of their own but their take on songs like “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and “The Way We Were” made them as popular as the originals.  And just what would the landscape of music (or life, for that matter) look like without that “Midnight Train To Georgia“???

gladys and the pips.jpg

Gladys Knight & the Pips:  “Do You Hear What I Hear?” (1975, written by Noel Regney & Gloria Shayne in 1962).

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!!!