♫ I Second That Emotion ♫

Just one more Motown and then I’ll switch to something else, I promise!  This one was sort of a request after I played My Girl on Saturday night, and since after hearing it mentioned it has been bouncing about in my head, I figured I needed to exorcise it from my mind, and at the same time, give our friend David something to tap his toes to!

As Robinson recalls in his 1989 autobiography, he and Motown producer Al Cleveland went to a Detroit department store called Hudson’s to do Christmas shopping in December 1967. Smokey’s wife, Claudette, had recently given birth to twins that didn’t survive the premature birth, and he was looking to get her a gift.

As Robinson recalls in his 1989 autobiography, he and Cleveland went to a Detroit department store called Hudson’s to do Christmas shopping in December 1967. Smokey’s wife, Claudette, had recently given birth to twins that didn’t survive the premature birth, and he was looking to get her a gift.

This was the first Top 10 hit for the group after their 1967 name change from The Miracles. Robinson and Cleveland teamed up to write several more hits for the group, including Special Occasion (#26 US, 1968), Yester Love (#31 US, 1968), and Baby, Baby Don’t Cry (#8 US, 1969).

I Second That Emotion
The Miracles

Maybe you’ll wanna give me kisses sweet
But only for one night with no repeat.
And maybe you’ll go away and never call,
And a taste of honey is worse that none at all.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.

So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.
Maybe you’ll think that love will tie you down
And you don’t have the time to hang around.
Or maybe you’ll think that love will make us fools,
And so it makes you wise to break the rules.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.

So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.
In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

Songwriters: Alfred Cleveland / William Robinson Jr.
I Second That Emotion lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ What’s Going On ♫

There’s a lot of history to this song … more than I can cover in a brief blurb here.  The inspiration for the song came from Renaldo “Obie” Benson, a member of the Four Tops, after he and the group’s tour bus arrived at Berkeley on May 15, 1969. While there, Benson witnessed police brutality and violence in the city’s People’s Park during a protest held by anti-war activists in what was hailed later as “Bloody Thursday”.

Upset by what he had seen, he discussed what he witnessed to friend and songwriter Al Cleveland, who in turn wrote and composed a song to reflect Benson’s concerns. Benson wanted to give the song to his group but the other Four Tops turned down the request, saying it was a protest song.

“I said ‘no man, it’s a love song, about love and understanding. I’m not protesting, I want to know what’s going on.'”

In 1970, Benson presented the untitled song to Marvin Gaye, who added a new melody and revised the song to his liking, adding in his own lyrics. Benson later said Gaye tweaked and enriched the song, “added some things that were more ghetto, more natural, which made it seem like a story than a song… we measured him for the suit and he tailored the hell out of it.”

Motown founder Berry Gordy was against Gaye doing the song, saying …

“Motown was about music for all people—white and black, blue and green, cops and the robbers. I was reluctant to have our music alienate anyone. This was a big risk for his image.”

By some accounts there was a bitter quarrel between Gaye and Gordy over the song, but Gordy denies it.

Two bits of trivia about Marvin Gaye that I did not know until tonight:

  • He was married to Berry Gordy’s sister, Anna, from 1963 until their divorce in 1977
  • Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his own father on 01 April 1984, after breaking up a fight between his parents.  Gaye was one day shy of his 45th birthday.  His father was given a suspended sentence and probation.

And now … What’s Going On …

What’s Going On
Marvin Gaye

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, eheh

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, oh oh oh

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 brother
Right on babe

Mother, mother, everybody thinks we’re wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply ’cause our hair is long
Oh, you know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today
Oh oh oh

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
C’mon 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, ooh ooo ooo ooo
Right on baby
Right on baby

Songwriters: Alfred W Cleveland / Marvin P Gaye / Renaldo Benson
What’s Going On lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC