♫ True ♫ (Redux)

As I was working on my ‘good people’ post late last night, this song kept going through my head.  Needless to say, I couldn’t remember the lyrics, but remembered a snippet … “I bought a ticket to the world …”, so Google helped me come up with the title and group.  AHA!  I thought.  One I haven’t featured here before!  But just to be sure, I checked the archives and … DAMN!  I played this one a couple of years ago.  But, as I listened to it, I found it does something to me … it brings a smile and a nice, happy feeling.  So, you get to hear it again!


True was composed by group leader Gary Kemp, who wrote the song at his parents’ house while living there. It is a song that in part pays tribute to the Motown artist Marvin Gaye, who is mentioned in the lyrics, and the sound he helped to establish. According to Kemp …

“I think I wanted to write a song that was a bit like a Marvin Gaye, Al Green song, a blue-eyed soul song. It was at a time when it was me concentrating on melody first rather than the sort of riff and the groove. ‘True’ became a song about writing a love song. Why ‘Why do I find it hard to write the next line? I want the truth to be said?’ Because I didn’t want to write it down—because there’s nothing more embarrassing.”

The song was partly about Kemp’s platonic relationship (and unrequited love) with Altered Images singer Clare Grogan …

“I was infatuated with Clare Grogan. I met her on Top of the Pops and, at one point, travelled up to Scotland to have tea with her and her mum and dad. Although my feelings were unrequited and the relationship was platonic, it was enough to trigger a song.”

Some phrases in the lyrics were adapted from the novel Lolita, a copy of which Clare Grogan had given Gary Kemp.

“The lyrics are full of coded messages to Clare.  I’m still berated for the line ‘Take your seaside arms’ but it’s straight out of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which she had given me as a present – although in the book, it’s ‘seaside limbs.’ The line ‘With a thrill in my head and a pill on my tongue’ is also a bastardisation of Nabokov.”

Kemp did an interview with The Guardian back in 2014 that you might find interesting:  Spandau Ballet: We wanted to design the next decade’s pop culture

Released in 1983, this is the only song by the British group to make the top ten in the U.S.  It hit #1 in Canada, Ireland and the UK, and #4 in the U.S.

True
Spandau Ballet

So true, funny how it seems
Always in time, but never in line for dreams
Head over heels when toe to toe
This is the sound of my soul
This is the sound

I bought a ticket to the world
But now I’ve come back again
Why do I find it hard to write the next line?
I want the truth to be said

I, I-I-I, I
I know this much is true
I, I-I-I, I
I know this much is true

With a thrill in my head and a pill on my tongue
Dissolve the nerves that have just begun
Listening to Marvin (all night long)
This is the sound of my soul
This is the sound

Always slipping from my hands
Sand’s a time of its own
Take your seaside arms and write the next line
I want the truth to be known

I, I-I-I, I
I know this much is true
I, I-I-I, I
Ooh, I know this much is true, I know this much is true

I bought a ticket to the world
But now I’ve come back again
Why do I find it hard to write the next line?
I want the truth to be, I want the truth to be said

I, I-I-I, I
I know this much is true
I, I-I-I, I
Ooh, I know this much is true, I know this much is true

This much is true

This much is true
This much is true
This much is true
This much is true
This much is true
This much is true

I, I-I-I, I, I
Know this much is true
I, I-I-I, I, I
Know this much is true
This much is true
This much is true
I know, I know, I know this much is true

This much is true
This much is true
This much is true (I, I-I-I, I, I)
This much is true
I know this much is true

This much is true (I, I-I-I, I, I)
This much is true
Know this much is true
This much is true (I, I-I-I, I, I)
This much is true
Know this much is true
I know, I know, I know this much is true

This much is true (I, I-I-I, I, I)
This much is true
I know this much is true
This much is true

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Gary Kemp
True lyrics © Reformation Publishing Co Ltd

♫ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ♫ (Redux)

Since today is Juneteenth,  I thought it only appropriate to play some Motown — in my book some of the best music produced in the U.S.!  Of course, since I feature Motown songs and artists pretty often in these posts, I’ve already played most of my favourites at one point or another … some of them twice.  This one I’ve played only once twice before, so it will be new to many of you.   And Happy Juneteenth!


Ain’t No Mountain High Enough is an R&B/soul song written by the husband/wife songwriting team of Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson in 1966 for the Tamla label, a division of Motown.  Nick Ashford was inspired by an experience when he first moved to New York. He was walking down a Manhattan thoroughfare, determined that New York City would not get the best of him; the words “Ain’t no mountain high enough” popped into his head.

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell recorded the original version, which peaked at #19 US in 1967. Uriel Jones of The Funk Brothers, who played the drums on Gaye and Terrell’s original version, recalled …

“Ashford and Simpson had written the song and they always came to the studio with charts. This time was no exception; they came with the song fully written out. The lyrics were written out too. They were one of the few producers and writers who had full charts and made us work from them. They knew 95 percent what they wanted to hear. Johnny Bristol and Harvey Fuqua were the actual producers in charge of the recording. We did the rhythm track first, then they put the horns on second. Then they recorded Tammi Terrell’s vocal, then they did Marvin Gaye’s next. Each vocal was done separately, the singer in the studio with the producer on their own, and they put it all together at the end. You know, I never heard the finished song until I switched on the radio and it was playing.”

British soul singer Dusty Springfield wanted to record the song but Ashford & Simpson declined, hoping it would give them access to the Detroit-based label. As Valerie Simpson later recalled, “We played that song for her (Springfield) but wouldn’t give it to her, because we wanted to hold that back. We felt like that could be our entry to Motown.”

Diana Ross & The Supremes recorded a version of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough which was more faithful to the Terrell-Gaye original version as a duet with The Temptations. That song was an album cut from a joint LP released by Motown Records in 1968 on the two superstar groups, titled Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations.

In spring 1970, after the Top 20 success of her first solo single, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand), Ashford and Simpson had Ross re-record Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

Motown chief Berry Gordy did not like the record upon first hearing it. He hated the spoken-word passages and wanted the song to begin with the climactic chorus/bridge. It was not until radio stations nationwide were editing their own versions and adding it to their playlists that Ashford and Simpson were able to convince Gordy to release an edited three-minute version as a single. Ross’ version of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough rose up to number one on both the pop and R&B singles charts. Ross received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

I prefer the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell version, but the Diana Ross version is good, as well, so I proffer both!

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell

Listen baby, ain’t no mountain high
Ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough baby
If you need me call me no matter where you are
No matter how far don’t worry baby
Just call my name I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry

‘Cause baby there ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Remember the day I set you free
I told you you could always count on me darling
From that day on, I made a vow
I’ll be there when you want me
Some way, some how

‘Cause baby there ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Oh no darling
No wind, no rain
Or winters cold can stop me baby, na na baby
‘Cause you are my goal
If you’re ever in trouble
I’ll be there on the double
Just send for me, oh baby, ha

My love is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are miles apart
If you ever need a helping hand
I’ll be there on the double
Just as fast as I can
Don’t you know that there

Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Don’tcha know that there
Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
Ain’t mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough

Songwriters: Valerie Simpson / Nickolas Ashford
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)♫

I can’t believe I haven’t already played this one, but I’m thankful that I haven’t.  It came to me this morning while performing morning chores like brushing teeth, taking meds, making the bed … and before it could scramble away as my ideas for music posts often do, I made a note in my phone so I could remember it 12 hours later when sitting down to find just that right song!

Many years before global warming became a hot topic, Marvin Gaye wrote this song about the environment and how we have an obligation to care for the Earth. For his What’s Going On album (1971), Gaye got away from love ballads and explored deeper social themes, which at first didn’t sit well with Motown boss Berry Gordy (to whose daughter Gaye was married at the time!), who thought these songs wouldn’t be marketable. The success of the title track proved otherwise, and Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) became a #1 R&B hit and soared to #4 on the Hot 100.

Gaye elaborated on this song and his spiritual quest in a 1976 interview …

“I am a student of Don Juan and Carlos Castaneda. I’ve read many books by many authors. My idea of living is, I would love to become an impeccable warrior, one who has no need for earthly things such as the wine, the women, the clothes and the diamonds, and the fine things to wear. I’d love to develop a distaste for those things and become only interested in knowledge and power that this earth will give us, if we’re only willing to put in the time and effort.

I would love to quit show-business and go after that knowledge and that power that the truly gifted sorcerer has. The power’s here, it’s in the rocks, it’s in the air, it’s in the animals. There are men of knowledge who could take these forces and elements and cause mysterious things to happen to the body, transform themselves and do many, many marvelous things. I would like to become a man of power, and I would like to use it in a good fashion.

The knowledge that we have is enough to catapult ourselves over the hurdle into super-knowledge, where we become super-beings. But at that point we always destroy ourselves. That will always happen because super-knowledge is only for the chosen few. But the few can be of a greater number, that’s why I talk about it. If only we would adhere to certain laws that Mother Nature… THAT’S THE KEY!

We appear to have reached the bottom line. And, just like Bunny says (here he’s referring to the Jamaican musician Bunny Wailer), it’s in obeying the laws of nature that this wisdom and freedom lies. Those songs aren’t written for nothing. A lot of the time, they don’t even know it as writers, but they’re just forced to put Mother Nature into the picture, like in ‘You Are The Sunshine Of My Life.'”

Marvin Gaye was shot to death by his own father while trying to break up an argument between his parents in 1984, at the age of only 44, one day short of his 45th birthday.

This song, written solely by Gaye, became regarded as one of popular music’s most poignant anthems of sorrow regarding the environment.  The song rose to #4 in the U.S. but I cannot find whether it charted in Canada or the UK.

Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)
Marvin Gaye

Here we have something for you folks, we hope
You enjoy it as we enter our social section, thank you

Woah, ah, mercy, mercy me
Ah, things ain’t what they used to be (ain’t what they used to be)
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows
From the north and south and east

Woah mercy, mercy me, yeah
Ah, things ain’t what they used to be (ain’t what they used to be)
Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our seas
Fish full of mercury

Oh Jesus, yeah, mercy, mercy me, ah
Ah, things ain’t what they used to be (ain’t what they used to be)
Radiation underground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying

Hey, mercy, mercy me, oh
Hey, things ain’t what they used to be
What about this overcrowded land?
How much more abuse from man can she stand?

Oh, na, na, na
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Hey, ooh, woo

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Gaye Marvin P

♫ You’re All I Need To Get By ♫

There are days … nights … when only Motown will do.  Those nights seem more and more frequent for me of late.

Released in 1968, this was one of the last songs Marvin Gaye recorded with his ailing duet partner Tammi Terrell, (who would die of a brain tumor in 1970).  Like most of their collaborations, it was written by the songwriting team Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson.  Marvin and Tammi recorded the song at Hitsville. Ashford & Simpson later stated how the session was hard as Terrell was recovering from surgery on the malignant brain tumor that ultimately caused her death.

During moments in the recording, Gaye can be heard encouraging Terrell to sing her verses, ad-libbing come on Tammi several times. A year later, Gaye was performing this song with Stax vocalist Carla Thomas at the Apollo Theater, when Terrell, who was seated in the front row in her wheelchair, began singing along, prompting Gaye to leave the stage and sing the song with Terrell, who was offered a microphone. It was Terrell’s final performance before her death in March 1970. The song was played during Terrell’s funeral while Gaye gave a brief, tearful eulogy.  Awwww shoot … speaking of tears …

This song hit #7 in the U.S. and #19 in the UK where it stayed for 19 weeks.

You’re All I Need to Get By
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

You’re all I need to get by.
Like the sweet morning dew, I took one look at you,
And it was plain to see,
You were my destiny.
With my arms open wide,
I threw away my pride
I’ll sacrifice for you
Dedicate my life for you

I will go where you lead
Always there in time of need
And when I lose my will
You’ll be there to push me up the hill

There’s no, no looking back for us
We got love sure ‘nough, that’s enough
You’re all, You’re All I need to get by.
I all, you’re all I want to strive for and do a little more
All, all the joys under the sun wrapped up into one
You’re all, You’re all I need to get by.

You’re all I need to get by.
Like an eagle protects his nest, for you I’ll do my best,
Stand by you like a tree, dare anybody to try and move me
Darling in you I found
Strength where I was torn down
Don’t know what’s in store but together we can open any door

Just to do what’s good for you and inspire you a little higher
I know you can make a man out of a soul that didn’t have a goal
Cause we, we got the right foundation and with love and determination
You’re all, You’re All I need to get by.

I all, you’re all I want to strive for and do a little more
All, all the joys under the sun wrapped up into one
You’re all, You’re all I need to get by.

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Ashford Nickolas / Simpson Valerie
You’re All I Need to Get By lyrics © Universal Music – Careers, Ramecca Publishing, Inc., Wu Tang Publishing, Inc.

♫ You’re So Vain ♫

I last played this one in April 2019 and had a lot of fun with it back then.  So, tonight being one of those nights when there isn’t a song in my heart and I’m too tired to try to put one there, I’m replaying it! 


An old friend sent me a text message yesterday:

Got a song that you may want to delve in. “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon. A good investigating song. Try and figure out who the three men are that it’s about.

Well, me being me … half deaf and never paying much attention to music trivia until recently … I had no idea that the song was actually ‘about’ anybody, but his challenge piqued my curiosity.

The song, written by Carly Simon herself in 1971, was released the following year, and apparently each of the three verses is about a different ‘vain’ man.  In 2015, she admitted that one of the men was Warren Beatty, but other than that she has only given clues, such as that one of the men’s name contains ‘A’, ‘E’, and ‘R’.  She has also said it is not about Mick Jagger, who contributed uncredited backing vocals to the song, or her ex-husband James Taylor.  Wait … what???  I never knew that James Taylor was married to Carly Simon!  And here I thought James Taylor was saving himself for me!  Where have I been all my life?

In 2015, Simon published her memoir titled “Boys in the Trees”, but she gave away no answers to the puzzle there, either, and the book is largely about her often tumultuous relationship with Taylor.

In short, I don’t know the answer.  Howard Stern does, for she reportedly told him, but swore him to secrecy.  But here are some of the possibilities:

  • Sean Connery
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Terrence Malick  (who???)
  • Bob Rafelson (again, who???)
  • Jack Nicholson
  • Kris Kristofferson
  • Cat Stevens

It is said that during each of the verses, you can hear a whisper of the name that verse is about.  Now, since I do well to even hear the words that are sung, I’ll leave it up to you guys to listen for the whisper.  And thank you, J.R., for issuing the challenge … it was fun!

You’re So Vain
Carly Simon

You walked into the party
Like you were walking on a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf, it was apricot
You had one eye on the mirror
And watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner
They’d be your partner, and

You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain,
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you?
Don’t you?

Oh, you had me several years ago
When I was still naive
Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved
And one of them was me
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and

You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, you’re so vain
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you?
Don’t you?

Well I hear you went to Saratoga
And your horse, naturally, won
Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
Well, you’re where you should be all the time
And when you’re not, you’re with some underworld spy
Or the wife of a close friend,
Wife of a close friend, and

You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, you’re so vain
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you?
Don’t you?

Songwriters: Carly E. Simon
You’re So Vain lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ I Heard It Through The Grapevine ♫

Marvin Gaye.  Motown.  Sigh … they just don’t make it like that anymore, my friends.  In some ways, this is a redux, for I did play it here three years ago, but I have added some trivia and two additional versions (Glady’s Knight and the Pips, and Smokey Robinson) to the post.

This song was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966.  Strong first came up with the idea and asked the famous Motown songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland to work on it with them, but the team refused to credit another writer (egos, egos everywhere), so Whitfield and Strong it was.

The first recording of the song to be released was produced by Whitfield for Gladys Knight & the Pips and released as a single in September 1967 when it went to number two in the Billboard chart.  Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were the first to record the song, but theirs wouldn’t be released until years later on an album called Special Occasion. The Isley Brothers then took a crack at it, but their version wasn’t released. Whitfield and Strong then had Marvin Gaye record the song but still no luck: Motown head Berry Gordy chose Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Your Unchanging Love over Grapevine as his next single. Finally, a new Motown act Gladys Knight and the Pips recorded the song as a gospel rocker. Their version was a hit, entering the Top 40 in November 1967 and going to #2 in the U.S.

The Marvin Gaye version was placed on his 1968 album In the Groove, where it gained the attention of radio disc jockeys, and Motown founder Berry Gordy finally agreed to its release as a single in October 1968, when it went to the top of the Billboard Pop Singles chart for seven weeks from December 1968 to January 1969 and became for a time the biggest hit single on the Motown label.

Mavin Gaye’s version is, and will likely always be, my favourite, but Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson certainly deserve honourable mention, so I have included them here.

I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Marvin Gaye

Ooh, I bet you’re wonderin’ how I knew
‘Bout your plans to make me blue
With some other guy you knew before
Between the two of us guys you know I love you more
It took me by surprise I must say
When I found out yesterday
Don’tcha know that I

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Oh I heard it through the grapevine
Oh I’m just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah
(Heard it through the grapevine)
(Not much longer would you be my baby, ooh, ooh, ooh)

I know a man ain’t supposed to cry
But these tears I can’t hold inside
Losin’ you would end my life you see
‘Cause you mean that much to me
You could have told me yourself
That you love someone else
Instead I

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Oh I heard it through the grapevine
And I’m just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah
(Heard it through the grapevine)
(Not much longer would you be my baby, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh)

People say believe half of what you see, son
And none of what you hear
But I can’t help bein’ confused
If it’s true please tell me dear
Do you plan to let me go
For the other guy you loved before?
Don’tcha know I

Heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Baby I heard it through the grapevine
Ooh I’m just about to lose my mind
Honey, honey yeah
(Heard it through the grapevine)
(Not much longer would you be my baby, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)

Honey, honey, I know
That you’re lettin’ me go
Said, I heard it through the grapevine
Heard it through the grapevine

Songwriters: Barrett Strong / Norman Whitfield
I Heard It Through the Grapevine (American Tour Live) lyrics © Stone Agate Music, Emi Music Publishing France, Jobete Music Co Inc, Stone Agate Music Corp

♫ It Takes Two ♫

After the events of the evening (the aforementioned cat fight), I was pretty sure there could be no music post tonight, but then … dear David mentioned this song by the wonderful Marvin Gaye, and I knew I had my song for the night!  Thank you, David!

It Takes Two is a hit single recorded in late 1965 by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston for Motown’s Tamla label.

Produced by Weston’s then-husband, longtime Gaye collaborator William “Mickey” Stevenson, and co-written by Stevenson and Sylvia Moy, It Takes Two centered on a romantic lyric that depicted many things in life (dreams, love, wishes, etc.) being better with two people instead of one. The single became Gaye’s most successful duet single to date, later outperformed by Gaye’s duets with Tammi Terrell.

According to Kim Weston …

“Marvin and I went into the studio together to record the album Take Two. We didn’t pick the tracks, they were picked by Mickey Stevenson, my then-husband, and our producer, but ‘It Takes Two’ had been written by him and Sylvia Moy especially for us and it really worked. Being in the studio with Marvin, I saw a new side to him. I’d traveled and shared bills with him so we knew how each other worked. In the studio he was really encouraging. He added little ad libs, intonations here and there and suggested things for the arrangements. I saw the genius shine out of him but also the frustration. You could hear it in his voice. He wanted more control.  It was a shock when they released the song as a single. I’d already left Motown and gone to MGM. I don’t think Motown knew I was going to leave and I was upset that this came out after I’d gone. I regret never having the chance to sing it live with Marvin. I felt my duets with Marvin really paved the way for what he did with Tammi Terrell next. Our songs influenced theirs, and if I’d stayed at the label I think I’d have been singing those songs with him instead.”

Though Gaye had already racked up a number of hits in the US, this was his first Top 40 hit in the UK. The song reached #14 in the U.S. and #16 in the UK … the Canadians apparently didn’t like it, for it didn’t chart there.  

In 1990, the song was covered by Rod Steward and Tina Turner, where it was a Top Ten throughout Europe.

It Takes Two
Kim Weston and Marvin Gaye

One can have a dream, baby
Two can make a dream so real
One can talk about being in love
Two can see how it really feels

One can wish upon a star
Two can make a wish come true, yeah
One can stand alone in the dark
Two can make a light shine through

It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby,
Me and you
You know it takes two

It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby
Make a dream come true
It just takes two

One can have a broken heart
Living in misery
Two can really ease the pain
Like a perfect remedy
One can be alone in a bar,
Like an island he’s all alone
Two can make just any place
Seem just like bein’ at home

It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby
Me and you
It just takes two
It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby,
To make a dream come true
It just take two

Just takes two
Just takes two

One can go out to a movie
Looking for a special treat
Two can make that single movie
Something really kind of sweet
And one can take a walk in the moonlight
Thinking that’s it’s really nice
But two lovers walking hand in hand
Is like adding just a pinch of spice

It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby
Me and you
Just takes two
It takes two, baby
It takes two, baby
To make a dream come true

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Sylvia Moy / William Stevenson
It Takes Two lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) ♫

I read a mention of Marvin Gaye this evening, and that’s about all it takes to get one or another of Marvin’s fantastic tunes rattling around in my head.  This isn’t actually the one that was rattling around in my head … that was I Heard it Through the Grapevine, but since I’ve already played that one twice here, and once already this year, I searched my brain, such as it is, for another and came up with this one.

As is the case with so many great Motown tunes, this one was written by the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.  It was inspired by the trademark line of Jackie Gleason, “How sweet it is!” as it was said on The Jackie Gleason Show. Gleason was one of the biggest TV stars of the time.

Lamont Dozier said the lyric was “wishful thinking.” He was …

“… sitting at the piano, fantasizing about how good it would be if the woman I had eyes for was madly in love with me. But the truth is she never gave me a second look. So I created this fantasy world where I was the object of all her affections, a bit of fiction that eventually came true due to my persistence and showering her with affection.”

This was the second of Gaye’s 13 Top-10 hits. His first was 1963’s Pride and Joy, which peaked at #10.  How Sweet It Is reached #6 in the U.S., but only #49 in the UK, and did not chart in Canada.

Eddie Holland came up with the title and hook for this song. The rest of it took a while to put together, and by the time Gaye recorded it, he had to read from lyric sheets because he had not had time to memorize them.  In 2001, ESPN took some heat in the press when they used this song as background music in a Father’s Day tribute featuring athletes and their fathers or kids. Gaye had been shot by his father in 1984.

James Taylor released his version of How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) as the lead single from his album Gorilla (1975). Taylor’s 1975 single has been the most successful remake of the song to date, hitting number one on the Easy Listening chart and number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.  Now, while I am a huge fan of James Taylor, sorry but this song belongs to Marvin Gaye in my book.

How Sweet It Is
Marvin Gaye

How sweet it is to be loved by you
How sweet it is to be loved by you

I needed the shelter of someone’s arms
There you were
I needed someone to understand my ups and downs
There you were
With sweet love and devotion
Deeply touching my emotion
I want to stop and thank you, baby
I wanna stop and thank you, baby
Yes, I do

How sweet it is to be loved by you
Feels so fine
How sweet it is to be loved by you

I close my eyes at night
Wondering where would I be without you in my life
Everything I did was just a bore
Everywhere I went, seems I’d been there before
But you brighten up for me all of my days
With a love so sweet, so many ways
I wanna stop, thank you, baby
I just wanna stop and thank you, baby
Whoa, yes

How sweet it is to be loved by you
It’s just like sugar sometimes
How sweet it is to be loved by you
Whoa, yeah

You were better to me than I was to myself
For me, there’s you and there ain’t nobody else
I wanna stop and thank you, baby
I just wanna stop and thank you, baby
Oh yes

How sweet it is to be loved by you
How sweet it is to be loved by you
Oh now, how sweet it is to be loved by you
It’s like jelly baby
Oh, yeah
How sweet it is to be loved by you
Just like honey to the bees, baby
Yeah, now

How sweet it is to be loved by you
How sweet it is to be loved by you

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Joey Cooper / Harry Tobias

♫ Dancing In The Street ♫

All evening I have had this song in my head.  I was sure I hadn’t played it here, and made a note of it so that I wouldn’t forget this brilliant idea (me?  forget?  surely I jest!)  Only to discover that yes, I played this one in July 2019.  Well, guess what?  You’re getting a redux, for I am exhausted and when I asked my brain to choose another song, it gave me the finger, grumbled, and went back to sleep.  So, Martha and the Vandellas it is, even if I did already play it!


I hope you’re in the mood for a bit of something upbeat tonight, for I am greatly in need of what I think of as ‘happy music’, which often leads me to Motown, and tonight is no exception.

This song was written by Motown songwriters Marvin Gaye, Ivy Jo Hunter, and William “Mickey” Stevenson. It became the biggest hit and trademark song for Martha & the Vandellas.  According to the song’s co-writer Mickey Stevenson, the idea for dancing came to him while riding with Marvin Gaye through Detroit. During the summer, the city would open up fire hydrants and let the water out in the streets so they could play in the water to cool off. They appeared to be dancing in the water.  I actually remember one city I lived in as a child doing that … opening the fire hydrants on hot summer days!

Martha Reeves was the leader of the group.  Back in the early days, she was trying to get her foot in the door at Motown, but they wouldn’t even give her an audition, so she applied for and got a job as secretary.  Part of her secretarial duties was singing lyrics to new songs onto tapes so backup singers could learn the words. This led to fill-in work as a backup singer, where she impressed Motown executives with her voice.  She convinced them to hire her friends, Annette Sterling and Rosalind Ashford, and thus was born Martha and the Vandellas!  After backing up Marvin Gaye on some of his songs, Motown gave them songs to sing on their own, including the hit Heat Wave.

Martha Reeves told the story behind this song …

“Marvin Gaye had recorded ‘Dancing in the Street” when I first heard it, and he had put a real smooth vocal on there, sort of like (jazzy singing) ‘Calling all around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat baby?’ and for some reason, Marvin said, “let’s try this song on Martha.” I was in the office and they let me hear the song, but I couldn’t quite feel it that way. I had been to Rio De Janeiro, I had travelled to New Orleans during Carnival time, so I just knew it had to be somewhere about dancing in the street. I said, ‘Can I sing it the way that I feel it?’ And they said, ‘Go ahead.’

So, I sang it (singing on the beat) ‘calling all around the world are you ready for a brand-new beat,’ and, they loved it. There was all kinds of congratulatory hand slaps and ‘hey man, we got a hit in that window up there,’ and the engineer, Lawrence Horn, looked and said, ‘I didn’t turn the machine on.’

I had to sing it again. So, the second time I sang it, there’s a little bit of anger there because I had to repeat it. It was a straight performance and that’s why it sounds live. I think that’s the secret of the success of the hit – the fact that I had to do it again, and I did it without a mistake or without any interruption, and the feeling was just right on that song.”

The song took on a different meaning when riots in inner-city America led to many young black demonstrators citing the song as a civil rights anthem to social change which also led to some radio stations taking the song off its play list because certain black advocates such as H. Rap Brown began playing the song while organizing demonstrations.

The British press aggravated Reeves one time when someone put a microphone in her face and asked her if she was a militant leader. The British journalist wanted to know if Reeves agreed, as many people had claimed, that Dancing in the Street was a call to riot. To Reeves, the query was patently absurd. ‘My Lord, it was a party song,’ she remarked.

Like many a Motown hit, this song has been covered by many, including The Mamas and The Papas, Val Halen, Grateful Dead, David Bowie & Mick Jagger as a duet, and many more.  But to me, Martha and the Vandellas own this one.

Dancing in the Street
Martha and the Vandellas

Calling out around the world,
Are you ready for a brand new beat?
Summer’s here and the time is right
For dancing in the street.
They’re dancing in Chicago,
Down in New Orleans,
In New York City.

All we need is music, sweet music.
There’ll be music everywhere.
There’ll be swinging and swaying and records playing,
Dancing in the street.
Oh, it doesn’t matter what you wear,
Just as long as you are there.
So come on, every guy, grab a girl.
Everywhere around the world
They’ll be dancing.
They’re dancing in the street.

It’s an invitation across the nation,
A chance for folks to meet.
There’ll be laughing, singing, and music swinging,
Dancing in the street.
Philadelphia, P.A.
Baltimore and D.C. now.
Can’t forget the Motor City.

All we need is music, sweet music.
There’ll be music everywhere.
There’ll be swinging and swaying and records playing,
Dancing in the street.
Oh, it doesn’t matter what you wear,
Just as long as you are there.
So come on, every guy, grab a girl.
Everywhere around the world
They’re dancing.
They’re dancing in the street.

Way down in L.A. ev’ry day,
They’re dancing in the street.
(Dancing in the street.)
Let’s form a big, strong line, get in time,
We’re dancing in the street.
(Dancing in the street.)
Across the ocean blue, me and you,
We’re dancing in the street.

Songwriters: Marvin Gaye / William Stevenson / Ivy Hunter
Dancing in the Street lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Carlin America Inc

♫ True ♫

Yesterday a friend mentioned the band Spandau Ballet — a group who I haven’t thought of in probably 30 years, but immediately when I saw the name mentioned, this song, True, came pouring into my head.  Until tonight, I didn’t know the lyrics or the backstory, but I always loved the song.

True was composed by group leader Gary Kemp, who wrote the song at his parents’ house while living there. It is a song that in part pays tribute to the Motown artist Marvin Gaye, who is mentioned in the lyrics, and the sound he helped to establish. According to Kemp …

“I think I wanted to write a song that was a bit like a Marvin Gaye, Al Green song, a blue-eyed soul song. It was at a time when it was me concentrating on melody first rather than the sort of riff and the groove. ‘True’ became a song about writing a love song. Why ‘Why do I find it hard to write the next line? I want the truth to be said?’ Because I didn’t want to write it down—because there’s nothing more embarrassing.”

The song was partly about Kemp’s platonic relationship (and unrequited love) with Altered Images singer Clare Grogan …

“I was infatuated with Clare Grogan. I met her on Top of the Pops and, at one point, travelled up to Scotland to have tea with her and her mum and dad. Although my feelings were unrequited and the relationship was platonic, it was enough to trigger a song.”

Some phrases in the lyrics were adapted from the novel Lolita, a copy of which Clare Grogan had given Gary Kemp.

“The lyrics are full of coded messages to Clare.  I’m still berated for the line ‘Take your seaside arms’ but it’s straight out of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which she had given me as a present – although in the book, it’s ‘seaside limbs.’ The line ‘With a thrill in my head and a pill on my tongue’ is also a bastardisation of Nabokov.”

Kemp did an interview with The Guardian back in 2014 that you might find interesting:  Spandau Ballet: We wanted to design the next decade’s pop culture

Released in 1983, this is the only song by the British group to make the top ten in the U.S.  It hit #1 in Canada, Ireland and the UK, and #4 in the U.S.

True
Spandau Ballet

So true, funny how it seems
Always in time, but never in line for dreams
Head over heels when toe to toe
This is the sound of my soul
This is the sound

I bought a ticket to the world
But now I’ve come back again
Why do I find it hard to write the next line?
I want the truth to be said

I, I-I-I, I
I know this much is true
I, I-I-I, I
I know this much is true

With a thrill in my head and a pill on my tongue
Dissolve the nerves that have just begun
Listening to Marvin (all night long)
This is the sound of my soul
This is the sound

Always slipping from my hands
Sand’s a time of its own
Take your seaside arms and write the next line
I want the truth to be known

I, I-I-I, I
I know this much is true
I, I-I-I, I
Ooh, I know this much is true, I know this much is true

I bought a ticket to the world
But now I’ve come back again
Why do I find it hard to write the next line?
I want the truth to be, I want the truth to be said

I, I-I-I, I
I know this much is true
I, I-I-I, I
Ooh, I know this much is true, I know this much is true

This much is true

This much is true
This much is true
This much is true
This much is true
This much is true
This much is true

I, I-I-I, I, I
Know this much is true
I, I-I-I, I, I
Know this much is true
This much is true
This much is true
I know, I know, I know this much is true

This much is true
This much is true
This much is true (I, I-I-I, I, I)
This much is true
I know this much is true

This much is true (I, I-I-I, I, I)
This much is true
Know this much is true
This much is true (I, I-I-I, I, I)
This much is true
Know this much is true
I know, I know, I know this much is true

This much is true (I, I-I-I, I, I)
This much is true
I know this much is true
This much is true

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Gary Kemp
True lyrics © Reformation Publishing Co Ltd