Monday, February 21, 2011

Story of Detroit: Motown ~ "What's Goin' On?"

Original Motown Records site on West Grand Ave in Detroit

In the junior department at Sears, buying school clothes for my sophomore year of high school with my stylist (my sister Nancy) and Mom, I heard strings and French horns out of the store’s music speaker of a song by then so familiar and adored that my eyes closed involuntarily and my head fell back in a feigned swoon fifteen-year-olds do so well, resulting in a look of disdain on the face of my mother. The song was “Just My Imagination” by the Temptations, one of the many musical groups with countless hits that burst out of this little homemade studio called Motown.

My high school years spanned some of the most thrilling, volatile and frustrating times of my country’s history: 1970-74. We learned about the Watergate scandal and listened to impeccably dressed men testify in hearings on TV (and watched that one wife). Daily on our living room couch we listened to Walter Cronkite behind his TV news desk announce the number of American soldiers killed that day in Vietnam. My brother Bennett wore a black armband in his 1970 college commencement in protest of the war. That year The Temptations of Motown practically spit out the lyrics of their song “War”: War . . . huh . . . what is it good for . . . absolutely nothin’!

War was at a distance. I had no brothers or personal friends fighting in Vietnam. I lived in a small Michigan town far from peace protests in big cities, although Kent State was awfully close in the next state of Ohio, and there were campus protests at our local university. It was through the music collected by my brothers that I felt the war, and it was how my worldview and politics were shaped. I never saved enough money from babysitting to buy my own record albums, so I listened to the radio and played my brothers' albums on the turntable in the bay window while I ironed pillowcases, t-shirts, handkerchiefs and boxer shorts in the dining room. Besides Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon and Blue albums, I also listened to folk songs of peace by Joan Baez and Pete Seeger, Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” and “Imagine,” Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train,” “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, my favorite band in those days, had a protest song following the Kent State massacre called "Ohio." There was even a band named "War" with a song "Why Can't We Be Friends." Along the way were sprinkled funkadelic love songs and war songs out of Motown, like The Temptations’ “War.” 

The Temptations' song "War" was so popular that fans wanted a single (remember those?). Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong decided to release a new more blatant version by Edwin Starr, a different artist, so as not to upset conservative Temptations fans. It's awfully hard to sit still when you listen to music out of Motown, something has to move. I can feel myself wanting to get out on the street in protest when I listen to this song. "War can't give life, it can only take it away!" Someone said Music is the language of lovers. I'll talk more about that, in relation to Motown in another post, but truly, music was one of the healthiest and most powerful ways my generation responded to the travesties being orchestrated in the world.

I was almost oblivious to the fact that some of the music I loved best was being produced down the road in Detroit at Hitsville, U.S.A.: Motown Records, founded by Berry Gordy Jr with an $800 loan from someone in his family. It was the first record label owned by an African American. I just took this music as it came, loving it, but not claiming it as part of my local geography. My older sisters and brothers had heard little Stevie Wonder sing in Lansing when he introduced himself at a Youth for Christ rally: I’m Stevie Wonder, and I sing for Jesus. He signed on with Motown at age 11. Stevie Wonder is now the only remaining artist from the early days on the Motown label that included Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Jackson 5, Gladys Knight & the Pips, among many, many more.

The Chrysler ad that recently inspired me to turn my attention to Detroit got me out to visit the Motown Historical Museum Saturday, which just happened to be Smokey Robinson’s 71st birthday (February 19). The museum duplex was the original site of Motown Records 1959-1972, after which Berry Gordy moved it to Los Angeles. Smokey and his musical group The Miracles provided the foundation for Motown’s artistic success, and Motown’s founder, Berry Gordy Jr was Smokey’s mentor. Berry made Smokey Vice President of Motown, which he remained until Berry sold the company in 1988 (for $61 million, not including music rights sold later). I'll tell you more about my two hours in this beautifully preserved, humble space that produced some of the most electrifying and long lasting music ever, in future posts.

This Thursday the Obamas will host Smokey Robinson and other Motown singers in another of their  "In Performance at the White House" concerts, this time honoring Motown’s music. They have already honored other American music genres with concerts and workshops for students: classical, Broadway, Latin, country, jazz, and music from the Civil Rights movement. It will be aired on PBS March 1. I don't know if anyone will sing what Rolling Stone ranked as the fourth greatest song of all time, but the man who co-wrote and recorded it won't be there to sing, sadly. The song was written and released under Tamla, the original Motown label, and one of the multiple subsidiary labels Motown eventually created. It was a turbulent time of war and race tensions. You can see some of that history in the photograph montage in the version I've chosen, below. Marvin Gaye himself had a troubled life, and it ended in a terrible episode of domestic violence on April Fool's Day in 1984 when he tried to intervene in a fight between his parents. His dad had a loaded gun. It went off, killing Marvin the day before his 45th birthday, making this song an incessant question that never seems to live into an answer.

I'll post more about Motown, and Detroit, in the days ahead.

What's Goin' On

Mother, mother
There's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There's far too many of you dying
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today - Yeah

Father, father
We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what's going on
What's going on
Yeah, what's going on
Ah, what's going on

In the mean time
Right on, baby
Right on
Right on

Father, father, everybody thinks we're wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply because our hair is long
Oh, you know we've got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me
So you can see
What's going on
Yeah, what's going on
Tell me what's going on
I'll tell you what's going on - Uh
Right on baby
Right on baby

~ Written by Renaldo "Obie" Benson, Al Cleveland, and Marvin Gaye


kenju said...

Excellent post.

Cusp said...

Grew up like you engulfed by Motown: loved it then and love it still. I'd love to go to that Museum...if only I could.

Here in UK, Motown wasn't so popular at first but a Ready Steady Go special (bit like Shindig) introduced it to UK audiences after a pretty disastrous Motown UK tour. That Special was hosted by my favourite singer Dusty Springfield. She had visited the USA many times and sung with Martha and the Vandellas at The Apollo. After the Special, more people in UK heard 'that sound' and then Motown really took off here.

Look forward to hearing more about your trip

The Solitary Walker said...

Oh, wow, Ruth, what a fabulous post! I was back to my teens in an instant. The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, the amazing Marvin Gaye. 'Heard It Through The Grapevine' and 'Sexual Healing' two of the best pop singles ever. I identify with it all: Joni, Baez, Seeger, Lennon, Cat Stevens, CSN&Y ...

Like the way you bring the politics into this.

War. What is it good for?

California Girl said...

You know how they say you remember exactly where you were when something momentous to you occurs? I vividly recall hearing of the death of Marvin Gaye that day as I ws driving to Norfolk VA from Richmond. I had a business appointments and was either driving to or back from there when the radio broke the news. I couldn't believe it; killed by his father. What a terrible tragedy and loss to the music world.

WhenI'm asked what my favorite musical genre is, I always say "soul" or "Motown". My husband and I had our first date in 1968 at a concert headlined by The Supremes, "Little" Stevie Wonder, Shorty Long ("Here Comes Da Judge") etc. I still have the tickets.

Stevie Wonder is still my favorite solo artist. An increidble songwriter, performer and humanitarian. Thanks for the memories.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Oh, my, this wonderful post. All of the tunes you mention are forever burned into my inner music library, so much a part of my coming of age, social, sexual and political awakening. They seem like the soundtrack to those formative years from 1970 to 1974, when I went from 14 to 18 years of age. The bookends for me were the Kent State killings of 1970 (“four dead in Ohio” the news and CSN&Y pounded into my gathering social consciousness) and Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Quite fittingly, on the day Nixon resigned in August 1974, two months after I had graduated from high school, I was gathered with tens of thousands of other young fans at a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ. When the band came out on stage, they were triumphantly waving the afternoon paper emblazoned with the longed for headline: “NIXON RESIGNS”. I will never forget the jubilation that broke out and the concert that followed. Just two years later (though it seemed like ages), in 1976, when I had dropped out of college and gone off to work at UPS loading and unloading trucks, while in the midst of a bitter nationwide strike that shut down the company for 13 weeks, I attended the founding convention of the rank-and-file reform movement Teamsters for a Democratic Union at Kent State, and visited the site as if an ancient shrine or battlefield. So many of these memories now seem sepia tinged, and the ideals that fired those protests and optimism have not fared as well as we were convinced they would, but this music does live on so vibrantly.

One song I would add to your fantastic medley is “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, especially in Marvin Gaye’s stirring rendition. I often think of the blog world as a magical grapevine of sorts … Today’s tendril goes right to the root.

The Bug said...

I've got a Joan Osborne CD with "War" on it - it's sad how it's still relevant today. Last night Dr. M & I were watching some show about ancient fortifications. There ever was war & ever will be, I guess.

Bonnie said...

I know it has little to do with Motown or Detroit, but as I read this nostalgic post I could hear Simon & Garfunkel singing the haunting music and words to their "Bookends Theme":

"Time it was
And what a time it was
It was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago ... it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They're all that's left of you"

~ Simon & Garfunkel

Maureen said...

Great post, Ruth. What a walk down memory lane for me. One of my brothers served in Vietnam and I was in college during the time you write about. The songs were our anthems for a period I'll never forget.

Eric 'Bubba' Alder said...

It's nice to see people remembering Motown's glory days like this. I grew up listening to the "Motown sound" and it influenced my musical tastes just as much as did the British Invasion or any other style.

Great post! Keep 'em coming!

M.L. Gallagher said...

I am learning so much from you!

Thank you.

all ways 11 o'clock said...

This post brought tears out of me this morning. And then when i played 'What's Goin' On' i just sat here and wept openly. Those times so turbulent reached Canada with Kent State and Viet Nam, those glorious poets and musicians the people in the streets.

This is a wonderful post of yesterday, today and i dare say tomorrow. One day i hope it is just nostalgia.


Dan Gurney said...

I was there, too! I was personally involved, inhaled more than my share of tear gas protesting Vietnam. The summer I graduated from high school, 1969, Woodstock happened. I went to Berkeley, stood on the wrong side of the National Guards rifles.

The photo montage with "What's Goin' On? playing in the background brought tears to my eyes.

What's different today? Why no protests? First, there is no draft. We have, let's use words accurately, not a civilian army, and not a volunteer army, but a mercenary army drawn from a "poverty draft." I know kids who see enlistment and jail as their best two alternatives.

Second, we consume, but don't make our own music. That's why the ukuleles. The Civil Rights movement was fueled by song sung by the people.

Apologies for the long comment. You really moved me here, Ruth.

Bruce Barone said...

What a GREAT post!

Thank You.

P.S. I guess we are about the same age :)

Barb said...

Your music past is mine, too. This is terrible, but I don't think I knew Motown Records was in Detroit. Thanks for the history lesson, Ruth.

deb colarossi said...

Where to start?
and I'm as taken with the comments as usual, and will return to read more. I love getting to know more about everyone in your space, Ruth .

I have always felt that music is very much a part of who I am. I am a little younger than you , but there is no doubt that these are different times. My Woodstock triple album set is one of my prized possessions.

Marvin Gaye , Motown, love.

Sandy said...

Enjoyed this post and being of the age I am - it's amazing how that Motown influence - influenced my young life. great post.

Babs-beetle said...

As a (older) teenager, I was heavily influenced by Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton and many more American folk singers. Motown was part of our lives back then too. Who could not love Motown? I still have some in my iTunes library.

Lovely post :)

JeannetteLS said...

I was in college for 70-74. My older brother was in the March on Washington. I remember walking into the Student Union as a freshman and hearing, "WAR! Good GOD y'all! What is it GOOD FOR." It seemed that black or white, when that was on, we'd be in the food line and turn to one another and go "Absolutely NOTHIN." And "What's goin' on" can get to me every single time I hear it. Thank you for a wonderful post here.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Kenju, I'm excited about Motown.

Ruth said...

Cusp, I love hearing that history in UK. I was reading the Billboard data, and I was amazed at how many Motown hits were much longer on the charts in England and Australia than here. Dusty sang with Martha at the Apollo? Can you imagine?? Did you know that Martha Reeves was the Audio tape librarian at Motown and filled in for a singer at the mic for a sound check, and her voice was so great, they decided to sign her! And her group was named the Vandellas because her best friend was Della Reese and she lived on Van Dyke Avenue.


Andrew said...

Thank you Ruth. A comprehensive look at a time in history through the eyes of a young observer.

Ruth said...

Hi, Robert!

I've always thought we had the best music in the late 1960s to the early 1970s ever. I thought I was just partial, but then my kids listened to our music when they were teenagers too.

I had never heard of Marvin Gaye's song "Sexual Healing" before I started reading this week about Motown, and now you've mentioned it. I just listened to it for the first time. I didn't listen to the radio in the 1980s, and I didn't have any Marvin Gaye albums.

Ruth said...

California Girl, your description of where you were when you heard the news about Marvin Gaye's tragic death reminds me of what people say about John Lennon's too.

In 1968 "Little" Stevie Wonder was 18. I wonder when he stopped being marketed as "Little." He is one of my favorites too. Too many favorite songs of his to list, but some are "Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing," "If You Really Love Me," "We Can Work it Out," "Higher Ground," "Superstition," "That's What Friends Are For," . . . more more more.

Ruth said...

Lorenzo, your wonderful comment is a piece of Lorenzo history, showing the tight connection with music even then. I almost mentioned Nixon's resignation in the post. To be at a CSN&Y concert that night, what an event for the ages! The thing is, it is a connection for so many of us, this music. There is no way to separate our music then from the daily happenings that were ripping at our hearts, or infuriating us. It's why those war movies made about Vietnam are so powerfully infused with the anti-war rock-and-roll. It was created by people like us, and it was our expression. We could sing it and feel we had written it ourselves.

Ruth said...

Dana, I keep hoping man is evolving away from war, that it will become an anachronism. Will the day ever come?

rosaria said...

This post brought back all kinds of memories. My children inhereted my albums and are enjoying each and every one of those marvelous songs.

Oliag said...

You certainly released a flood of memories here Ruth! Mine included! I graduated from high school in 68 and college in 72 so all the music you mentioned is "My Music". Although I was more of a folkie when it came to music...when it came to DANCING there was only one way to go....and that was Motown:) I can't listen to it and not start dancing even now:)

J.G. said...

I have been thinking about Kent State lately. It's too bad we still have so many armies, but maybe some of them (some of us?) have learned something. Thank God for the army's restraint in Egypt.

And CSNY is still my favorite band.

Margaret said...

"that one wife"... was she a fashion icon? She was beautiful. I loved this post and it is amazing so much talent was recognized right there in Detroit. Boy, do I hope that city is able to revive itself - so much history. I look forward to your future posts.

I personally like Creedence Clearwater Revival the best (after the fabulous Temptations, of course!) Thanks for the links.

I might have to stop off and see this museum when we are traveling through to Petoskey this summer!

Pat said...

I grew up in the exact same era - high school from '69-73. I wasn't too politically involved, but I DID wear a metal bracelet of a soldier who was MIA/POW. Remember those? I didn't take it off for years. I was thrilled to receive a letter from my soldier - he was rescued and returned home. I wish I kept the bracelet after all these years.

I remember that Marvin Gaye song like it was yesterday. I liked the Temptations, but my twin sister absolutely LOVED them!

freefalling said...

I LOVE Marvin Gaye.
I came to him only in the last 10 years.
I bought one of those $2 greatest hits album from the reject shop.
I loved him instantly and listened to it over and over.
I don't know what it is about him - he's kind of ethereal - his voice hits me right in the heart.
Plus he was an extremely beautiful looking man!

What a wonderful gift to the world is the music of Motown.

freefalling said...

oh yeah - I meant to say: my favourite of his:
Mercy, Mercy Me.

Cusp said...

Motown was and still is adored in UK. I love all the stories about the Charm School where they trained the acts in deportment etc and how to act like 'ladies' under the iron fist of Miss Maxine Powell. Interestingly , once you know that you can really see how the.e.g. Supremes were schooled in how to stand, wlak, conduct themselves and those old standards still work ...for me anyway. Those acts still have more sophistication and posie than all the acts now

Susan said...

So many things to touch on in this post, I hardly know where to begin.

Even though I was influenced early by my sisters' music, early days of rock and roll, Motown was my music. As I told you earlier, The Supremes' (this was before they became "Diana Ross and the Supremes") "You Keep Me Hangin' On" was my very first 45 purchase and I wore the needle through it. I played it over and over and over again, and you know, I don't remember my mother ever telling me to cut it out. Maybe she liked it, too. :)

We would never have had the 80's groups like Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, etc., without The Temptations and The Four Tops. Most of their moves were just variations of their predecessors.

My life wasn't touched greatly by Vietnam. The closest I came to losing anyone was my first cousin Bill, who narrowly escaped being blown to bits in his hut. Several of his bunkmates weren't as lucky. I wasn't into protesting the war...the community I am from was staunchly behind the President and most didn't question any of his decisions regarding it. It was only after I was out of school and newly married that I began to realize what was really going on in the politics of war.

I remember being absolutely glued to the TV during the Watergate hearings and being fascinated by Mo Dean. She was so elegant and pulled together and "standing by her man", one of the few in Nixon's administration with a conscience, even if he was saving his own hide. Have you seen the movie "Dick"? It's an interesting take on all that, seen through the eyes of two teenage girls.

I can't wait to see PBS' "In Performance...". I'm going to set the Tivo right now, in case I forget.

Thank you for this wonderful post of memories, Ruthie.

Ginnie said...

I hate that I was nowhere to be found during those days, Ruth, when you knew all that was happening then. Astrid says she always loved dancing to Motown music. She's closer to your age than to mine. She'll have to lead me, and you, too. This simply was not part of my life. I wonder if Susan and Nelson (and Nancy?) would say the same? You really were from a different family, even if mine! Thank you for teaching me about it.

Char said...

i love motown. love love love. i wonder if we will ever have such genres again with the watered down, cookie cutter pop of today

Astrid said...

Hi, dear sister! a nice cup of coffee please, no sugar, just a little milk.
You will love the link, 100 greatest Motown hits, together with the video's.
WOW talk about 'the old days' Ginnie and I just danced on the music you send her, thank you so much.
I never knew Detroit was where Motown houses.
Thank you for this wonderful post.
It was a delight to google the song and 'sing' along ;)

Peter said...

Wow, what a post!!! Thanks!! I spent quite some time, not only reading, but "deviating"... Listening... Memories! I guess I have a few more years than you, but this is still somehow also my youth, of course seing it from Europe, with a critical eye on US politics, wars.... During the Vientnam war years, a few of our friends (in Sweden) were actually young men who had fled the US to escape war. When I think back on these years, I realise how important music (and the words that go with it) was, is and hopefully will be!

Thanks once more Ruth, I have had a marvelous - long - moment thanks to you!

jeannette said...

During that time I lived in Holland, but it's very interesting to hear how Americans viewed that time. Stevie Wonder, even across the ocean he's a legend!

ds said...

You will laugh at me, I suppose, who finished my freshman year of high school as you graduated, but I knew nothing of that music until college and no idea that Motown home of the Jackson 5 and the Temptations produced anything like protest music, which was Baez and Dylan and Arlo Guthrie. As for Watergate? It was Not Discussed ("that Wife" will forever be Martha Mitchell to me, she who screamed at the microphones beneath her frosted, oversprayed hair) Innocent and ignorant was i. Thanks for opening my eyes (and ears!)

Terresa said...

Loved this trip down memory lane & Motown, your memoirs sing as sweet as Stevie Wonder and the others (did he really say that? "I'm Stevie Wonder, and I sing for Jesus."? Incredible!! Love that!).

Ruth said...

Bonnie, it's always there, isn't it? Music is threaded in our memories of this time. Folk music, out of the tradition of Woodie Guthrie, expressed feelings of the times. Simon & Garfunkel were powerfully there. I think Paul Simon may go down as the most important song lyricist of this American generation, maybe more than Dylan. Thanks, Bonnie.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Maureen. I trust your brother made it home just fine.

Ruth said...

Hi and welcome, Eric 'Bubba' Alder. It's nice to have a fellow Michigander visit this Motown post. I'll be posting more about it in the days ahead. Thank you! Keep those aFrostics coming too.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Louise. I just learned much of this myself.

Ruth said...

Robert, it was such a highly charged time. I didn't realize then that times weren't always like that! It was my time, and it just was. In the decades since then, I've realized how times change. Looking back, I feel as you do, and these songs move me deeply. Thank you for sharing this with me.

I hope war will be an anachronism one day sooner than I expect. Peace to you.

Ruth said...

Dan, I thought you were going to say inhaling something else .... :-)

You were there. Why am I not surprised?

Yeah, what you wrote about the "poverty draft" is a sad reality. I don't know who said it, but I agree with her or him, that the Senators who vote for war should have to send their own children to fight. Do you think it would change war votes?

I am so touched by the likes of Woodie Guthrie, those who sang out of the hearts of the people who didn't have a voice. It's amazing, isn't it, how the music out of this era in the 60s and 70s really changed our culture.

Please don't apologize for a long comment. I love it! Thank you so much.

Ruth said...


Ruth said...

Barb, that's OK. I barely knew it myself! Thank you for visiting and sharing Motown.

Ruth said...

Deb, it sort of feels like a love-in here, for music. The music unites us, we need to remember that. You know Woodstock, it could only be what it was, when it was. It could never happen now. It would be so marketed! Have you seen the movie? That is really a trip back, I loved it.

Thanks for sharing the love here, my friend.

Ruth said...

Sandy, music has a way of seeping into our consciousness, and it stays.

Ruth said...

Babs, I didn't realize the impact Motown had on UK until I started reading about it this week. Well, it's nice to know we mutually shared musicians across the pond.

Ruth said...

JeannetteLS, Edwin Starr's rendition is so powerful! Thank you for sharing this look back on those days, and Motown.

Ruth said...

Andrew, thank you. I'll be even more comprehensive yet. :-)

Ruth said...

rosaria, it's so cool that our kids have turntables and listen to albums. There's just something about that needle hitting the vinyl . . .

Thank you.

Ruth said...

Oliag, these were magnificent music times. I am making up for the dancing I didn't do (the Baptist thing), as you know. I wonder if you had any Motown at your birthday party . . . ? :-)

Ruth said...

J.G., I was thinking about Kent State too, and how really we are relatively protected in our rights to protest here, but that was such a horrible aberration. Watching Libya is terribly frightening and sobering.

Ruth said...

Margaret, yes. Maureen Dean. I waited for her to enter the room every day.

I was a bit disheartened by the vastness of decay in Detroit Saturday. I need to listen to Mayor Dave Bing's recent State of the City address ...

CCR has some great numbers. So sad that John Fogerty lost the rights to his music.

Do stop at the museum for a tour when you're back up here. I learned a lot, and my appetite was whetted for more.

Ruth said...

Pat, I totally remember those POW bracelets, but I had forgotten!

Ruth said...

Letty, Marvin Gaye. Yes he had that special something . . . sulty, sexy, soulful. He had the music.

Ruth said...

And yes! Mercy, Mercy Me! I think that might be my favorite of his too.

Ruth said...

Cusp, you know something about Motown I didn't know until Saturday, about Miss Maxine Powell's charm school. I was impressed with that too. I'll share more about that, and how they were even tutored in finance (though I don't think that "took" for Diana Ross who lived the high life without realizing she was burning up her money!).

Ruth said...


I have no doubt that you know way more about Motown than I ever did. I aim to do something about that. :-)

That Mrs. Dean, she was something. Funny how we needed a pretty face to lighten things up in that room. I have not seen "Dick" (have I heard of it?).

I should "DVR" March first too ....

Thanks for this remembrance, Susie.

Ruth said...

Boots, yes, you had a different world then. But as you see I was oblivious about some things too. Such was our sheltered life. If it weren't for Bennett and John, I would have been less informed about this music, only listening to the radio, which was quite limited in our small community.

I think you have more than made up for your music deficit in the last few years! I think you've been to more concerts than anyone I know. :-) So nice.

Ruth said...

Char, I don't know, but there is some pretty cool music out there now. It's just that there's so much of it, it's hard to find it sometimes. Thanks for your comment.

Ruth said...

Astrid, my dear. Thank you for that link, I have seen it, and I have been using the nutsie one too, which is just great.

I'm glad you enjoyed Al Green. He was not Motown, I believe, but quite wonderful.

Dance on, sweet sister!

Ruth said...

Peter, your reverie into this music was very special to me yesterday. Merci.

Ruth said...

Jeannette, he's a real wonder, that Stevie. His songs are so different from one another, so wonderful!

Ruth said...

ds, I would not laugh at you. I was ignorant of way too much myself to do that. I am guessing there might have been more protest songs out of Motown if they had not "protected" their artists' reputations for the conservative fans.

OK I just found something, thanks to you. I was googling Martha Mitchell to remember what she looked like, and I found this: The Martha Mitchell effect: the process by which a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health clinician mistakes the patient's perception of real events as delusional and misdiagnoses accordingly. . . . When she alleged that White House officials were engaged in illegal activities, her claims were attributed to mental illness. Ultimately, however, the relevant facts of the Watergate scandal vindicated her and hence attracted to her the title of "Cassandra of Watergate". (Wiki)

Ruth said...

Thanks, Terresa. Yep, he really said that.

Marcie said...

So thoughtful. And - having grown up in the same era - I too remember it all as a distant..hazey memory. Will look forward to more about Motown!

margie said...

great post. memory lane.

Loring Wirbel said...

You make a better advocate for Motown than Eminem, have you ever thought about doing duos with Eminem for Detroit? I could almost envision it.

Speaking of which, I was intrigued by a mysterious woman in the darkness singing for Eminem's Grammies performance. Turns out her name is Skyler Gray, she writes both folk music and hip-hop. The rest of the Grammy audience can have all eyes on Rhianna, I pay attention to the peripheries.

Jeanie said...

So much meat here, Ruth. First, I've seen a preview of that special -- it's going to be good.

I attended an inner city high school in Lansing -- my intro to Motown was in those halls. I probably came late to the party -- there were a lot of Motown songs in play when I was focused on the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five (who?). But once you hear it, how can you resist?Great lyrics, wonderful harmonies, and as you said -- you must move!

And yet, in all these years I've never ventured the not-so-far distance to the Motown museum. I am at once embarrassed and ashamed.

Thanks for a wonderful, memorable and informative post. I'm looking forward to more!

Dutchbaby said...

My mind is flooding with so many memories of my time in San Francisco. It brings me back to my junior high school friend Sharon who introduced me to Motown and taught me and my best friend Ana all the latest dance moves. I remember the invasion of the hippies into The City. Ana, our friend Angela, and I rocked and rolled to the music of Janis Joplin, and so many others, at the free concerts in Golden Gate Park. I marched in the Moratorium in 1969, where I saw the word "gay" used in a new context for the first time.

My sister was in UC Santa Barbara when the students bombed the Bank of America and then transferred to Berkeley, just in time for the Free Speech Movement. I came to Berkeley in 1972, after most of the riots had died down. In 1974, my boyfriend and I celebrated Nixon's resignation with champagne.

Those were tumultuous and exciting times.

Thank you for this fantastic post and for featuring Motown's genius music.

rauf said...

yes i was closely following the watergate scandal Ruth and i understood what it was. Perhaps now i would have refused to understand the same. i have no patience nor do i read the news papers. i sincerely believed one was a bad guy rest of them were good guys. Now i believe all are bad guys and there is no point in knowing about them. Then i read bob Woodward Carl Bernstein book twice. Then came the movie which i watched for 12 times. i loved it Ruth. Gordon Liddy, Jeb Mcgruder, Mitchel, Cox, Zeigler, oh i want to forget these names Ruth.

Much before the Temptations Ruth, i think i was introduced to black label Motown by Diana Ross and the Supremes, ( one of them was Cindy Birdsong, what a name) Then i bought the 'Masterpiece' album of the Temptations. The record on the turntable seemed to go faster than the songs. The songs make you sit down and listen. The sound was so arresting. For me this was a landmark in recording technology, perhaps i bought a new amp. Then came 'Songs in the key of life'. i got a free EP with the album. oh that was Stevie Wonder. This was 70's

We need them back now Ruth as things are not going in the right direction.

All lies and jest
Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
-Paul Simon.

i am singing it now Ruth EEEEEEEEE

Stratoz said...

I know these tunes. I know them well. a music post of my own is forming in my head.

Ann said...

used to visit Detroit when I was studying in Windsor.