I've been listening to Motown lately, the classic singles from the golden age of pop music.

These songs are the soundtrack of my early childhood, the life I lived in southwestern Minnesota where commercial FM radio did not exist. There, radio was a tool of talk, a medium of conversation and the exchange of ideas. I'm sure there was some method of rigging a radio to a larger antenna to catch a broadcast out of Minneapolis, or maybe Sioux City. Whatever that method might be, my parents did not indulge it.

My most prized possession from that time was their portable 45 record player. They kept it in the closet in my sisters' bedroom downstairs, along with a big box of 45 singles they'd collected as kids. They came of age at the same time as pop music, so these records are a goldmine of "oldies".

The Supremes. Elvis. The Beatles. The Beach Boys. Green Onions, Chantilly Lace, (All I Have To Do Is) Dream. Kind of a Drag. I know them all by heart, after countless hours spent lying on my stomach on the bright blue carpet of my sisters' room, propping my head up with my elbows and hoisting my feet in the air while listening to Diana Ross sing about love. For all of me, I can't imagine any time in my life more innocent. I fell in love with the chocolate baritone of Elvis, and the sweet falsetto harmonies of The Beach Boys. The soundtrack to The Big Chill may be the single best compilation ever released.

So I'm listening to Smokey Robinson croon an angelic "Ooooh" over a delicious, slow guitar lick. The Miracles, especially, have this sound that takes me back twenty years to the Reagan era, when I was a little kid and the biggest problem I had was the occassional carpet sore from spending too much time listening to records. Marvin Gaye is my godfather and The Four Tops are like old friends.

Whenever something big happens in my life, I like to retreat a little and indulge this nostalgia, mine it for a handful of comfort when the storms blow.

Fellas, make sure you hold your woman tight and let her know you love her. If you've got a best friend, go buy him a beer and let him know that you think he's a helluva guy. We've only got so much time together, and it's so sad to fill the empty times with cheap pop.


At July 5, 2004 at 11:57 PM, Blogger dfgdfgasg said...

Sam- great post. Short and sweet. Seems like everybody I know is going through some kind of emotional upheaval right now.I wish I believed in astrology so I could explain it away as the will of the cosmos, but I have no real clue.
I've been thinking about Motown a lot too, for some reason.It's so pure.
I'm so fucking cynical sometimes.I've come to the conclusion that cynicism is the realm of the pussy- it's a defensive posture..Trying to change.

P.S-There is a good documentary about Motown that came out a while ago that you should Google.I forget the title.

At July 6, 2004 at 11:28 AM, Blogger Sam said...

It's called "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" and it's about the studio band the label kept on contract. Arguably the greatest band ever assembled, they laid down the fat horn parts and drum lines, the hopping bass and the lively guitar. Great stuff.


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