♫ Nightshift ♫

This song, released in 1985, is a tribute to singers Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson, who both died in 1984. Gaye was a Motown star known for love songs like Let’s Get It On and Sexual Healing. Wilson was an R&B singer known for his stirring performances and hits like Lonely Teardrops. Wilson was 49 when he died; Gaye was 44. Both are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The songwriter Franne Golde was brought in to help with the lyrics. She had recently seen the 1982 movie Night Shift (starring Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton; directed by Ron Howard), which gave her the idea for the title.  This is the Commodores’ only hit since Lionel Richie left the band in 1982. J.D. Nicholas, a former backup singer for Diana Ross, was brought in to replace Richie.  When this song was performed on Motown Returns to the Apollo in the early ’80s, more verses were added to honor other Motown legends who had passed on.

Nightshift
Commodores

Marvin, he was a friend of mine
And he could sing a song
His heart in every line
Marvin sang of the joy and pain
He opened up our minds
And I still can hear him say
Aw talk to me so you can see
What’s going on
Say you will sing your songs
Forevermore (evermore)

Gonna be some sweet sounds
Coming down on the nightshift
I bet you’re singing proud
Oh I bet you’ll pull a crowd
Gonna be a long night
It’s gonna be all right
On the nightshift
Oh you found another home
I know you’re not alone
On the nightshift

You found another home
I know you’re not alone
On the nightshift

Jackie (Jackie), hey what’you doing now
It seems like yesterday
When we were working out
Jackie (Jackie, oh) you set
The world on fire
You came and gifted us
Your love it lifted us
Higher and higher
Keep it up and
We’ll be there
At your side
Oh say you will sing
Your songs forevermore (evermore)

Gonna be some sweet sounds
Coming down on the nightshift
I bet you’re singing proud
Oh I bet you’ll pull a crowd
Gonna be a long night
It’s gonna be all right
On the nightshift
Oh you found another home
I know you’re not alone
On the nightshift

Gonna be some sweet sounds
Coming down on the nightshift
I bet you’re singing proud
Oh I bet you’ll pull a crowd
Gonna be a long night
It’s gonna be all right
On the nightshift
Oh you found another home
I know you’re not alone
On the nightshift

Gonna miss your sweet voice
That soulful voice
On the nightshift
We all remember you
Ooh the songs are coming through
At the end of a long day
It’s gonna be okay
On the nightshift
You found another home
I know you’re not alone
On the nightshift

Songwriters: Franne Golde / Dennis Lambert / Walter Orange
Nightshift – Single Version lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Reservoir Media Management Inc, BMG Rights Management

24 thoughts on “♫ Nightshift ♫

  1. I consider myself fortunate to have lived in the earliest days of the Motown Sound. This song was the best of the Commodores post Lionel. Marvin Gaye’s sad death is well known. Jackie Wilson though, had become nearly forotten after his massive heart attack whilst performing the very song you mentioned “Lonely Teardrops”. If memory serves me correctly, though resuscitated at the time Wilson never fully recovered from the severe effects. I believe that it was Michael Jackson’s mention of Wilson in his winning Grammy speech for “Thriller” that brought attention back to this legend. Mayhaps, that is really how this song came to be written. The movie that had prompted the name was silly fluff, but had a cast that contained many later stars and it was mindless entertainment too. Thank-you!

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    • I did not know that about Jackie Wilson having a heart attack in the middle of that song! I looked it up on Wikipedia, and it said he collapsed as he sang the words “My heart is crying …”, and that the audience initially applauded, thinking it was part of the act! As always, your memory serves you correctly. His heart attack was in September 1975, and he soon lapsed into a coma, but briefly appeared to recover in 1976, even taking a few steps, but then lapsed back into a coma. What is surprising to me, though, is that he didn’t officially die for another 8 years, in 1984! I say officially, for to me, being in that state would not be living. So very sad. Even sadder is this: “In 1987, a fundraiser by a Detroit radio station collected enough money to purchase a headstone.”

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  2. As far back as I can remember there were songs about musicians who had died. Hillbilly Heaven is the earliest one I remember, but I doubt it was the first. Then came Feb, 3, 1959: Three Stars by Tommy Dee. Later Rock and Roll Heaven by the Righteous Brothers. There are others. Memories all. Fine memories. There are so very few left from my coming-of-age days.

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