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.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 135

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 another mid-week Motown break.  The Four Tops had tremendous success whether they were singing their own Motown originals or covers like “Walk Away Renee” (first recorded by The Left Banke in 1966), “If I Were A Carpenter” (written & recorded by Tim Hardin in 1967) or “River Deep Mountain High” (originally recorded by Ike & Tina Turner in 1966).  The reason they never missed was because Levi Stubbs was as close to perfection as a vocalist could be.  He had a smooth polished vocal as opposed to the impassioned raw emotion of his Temptations counterpoint, David Ruffin.  I often thought of Stubbs singing to be close in style to Sam Cooke’s while Ruffin’s was more like Otis Redding’s.  All four men had incredible iconic voices, just different styles.

Added to Stubbs’ vocals were the harmonious backing sounds by his group members- Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton-along with the music of The Funk Brothers and the historic magical sound of The Four Tops was complete.  All four members stayed together for 44 years, a record unmatched by any other act on the label.  To this day they remain one of Motown’s most beloved and renowned groups and one of my great loves from that era.

All you left is our favorite song
The one we danced to all night long
It used to bring sweet memories
Of a tender love that used to be.” 

Four Tops

The Four Tops circa 1965 (L-to-R) Renaldo “Obie” Benson, Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, and Lawrence Payton.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Four Tops:  “It’s The Same Old Song” ( 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 130

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.

If I had to pick a secondary soundtrack to my teenage years, Steely Dan would be at the top of that list.  I enjoyed their music a lot, but they always seemed to be in my peripheral view rather than my focus.  I am not sure why, perhaps because I was in sensory overload with my primary focus on Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Elton & Bernie, Motown/soul music and The Beatles.  But there was no mistaking Steely Dan’s musical talent and knack for songwriting.

The band was founded in 1972 by Walter Becker (backing vocals & guitars) and Donald Fagen (lead vocals & keyboards).  Their 1972 debut album, “Can’t Buy A Thrill”, produced three of their most well known songs, “Do It Again”, “Reelin’ In The Years” and today’s song, which unlike most of the band’s tunes, did not feature Fagen on lead vocal but rather David Palmer who was in the group from 1972-1973.  Other hits from the group include “My Old School”, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” (their highest charting song which hit #4 in 1974), “Aja”, “Peg”, “Deacon Blues”, “Josie” and “Hey Nineteen”.  By 1974 after the release of their third album, “Pretzel Logic” Fagen & Becker decided to stop touring and continue exclusively as a studio band until 1981 when they took a 20 year hiatus from recording.

Over the years a few well known musicians were in the band including two future Doobie Brothers, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter & Michael McDonald.  Guest musicians included Marc Knopfler of Dire Straits, Steve Porcaro of Toto, Larry Carlton & Rick Derringer on guitar, David Sanborn on saxophone and Jim Gordon on drums.  Becker passed away in 2017, leaving Fagen as the sole surviving core member.  But what a legacy of music both men gave us.

Steely Dan’s 1972 debut album and core members Walter Becker (L) and Donald Fagen (R).  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Steely Dan:  “Dirty Work” (1972, written by Donald Fagan and Walter Becker).

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 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.