Tunes Du Jour Presents Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye wasn’t just a singer; he was a cultural touchstone. His music transcended genres and generations, leaving an indelible mark on the soundtrack of our lives.

Today’s playlist delves into the multifaceted artistry of this musical giant. We hear the early days of Gaye, the prince of Motown, with classics like “Ain’t That Peculiar” and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You).” These tracks showcase Gaye’s undeniable charisma and his ability to deliver a love song that could melt glaciers.

But Gaye wasn’t content to simply be a love ballad specialist. One can’t ignore the social and political commentary woven into Gaye’s later works, particularly What’s Going On, which topped Rolling Stone’s 2020 survey of the greatest albums of all time. That record tackled war, poverty, and environmental concerns with a raw honesty that resonated deeply. Tracks like “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” tackled environmental degradation, while the title track became an anthem for a generation yearning for peace and a response to society’s ills. This willingness to confront social issues set Gaye apart, making him a voice for the voiceless.

Gaye’s influence on music is undeniable. His use of layered instrumentation paved the way for future generations of artists. More importantly, his vocal prowess – the raspy vulnerability, the effortless power – became a benchmark for countless singers across genres. From R&B to soul to pop, Gaye’s influence can be felt in the music we listen to today.

Beyond the music, Gaye’s personal struggles became part of his narrative. His tempestuous relationships and inner demons fueled the emotional intensity of his music, adding a layer of authenticity that resonated with listeners. But it’s important to remember the man behind the music, not just the turmoil. Gaye’s collaborations with Tammi Terrell, Kim Weston, Mary Wells, and Diana Ross produced some of the most beloved soul duets ever recorded, showcasing a tenderness and vulnerability that balanced his more confrontational moments.

The accompanying playlist offers a glimpse into the vast and multifaceted world of Marvin Gaye. You’ll find heart-wrenching ballads like “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” alongside the dancefloor anthems like “Got to Give It Up.” There are the iconic duets with Tammi Terrell, the socially conscious anthems, and the smooth, seductive grooves that made him a legend.

Marvin Gaye’s legacy extends far beyond the number of records sold or awards won. He was a cultural icon, a voice for a generation, and an artist whose influence continues to be felt today. So put on your headphones, crank up the volume, and let the music of Marvin Gaye wash over you.

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Tunes Du Jour Presents 1964

In 1964, the musical landscape was undergoing a seismic shift. From the electrifying British Invasion to the soulful sounds of Motown, 1964 was a year that truly had something for everyone.

One cannot discuss the music of 1964 without acknowledging the unparalleled influence of The Beatles. With their chart-topping hit “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” the Fab Four ignited a phenomenon that would forever alter the course of popular music. Their harmonious blend of catchy melodies and innovative arrangements captivated audiences worldwide, laying the groundwork for the British Invasion that would dominate the airwaves in the years to come.

The UK also brought us The Animals, whose “House Of The Rising Sun” captivated audiences with its electrifying intensity, while The Kinks offered a more garage-band, raw sound with “You Really Got Me.”

But 1964 was not just about the British Invasion; it was also a time of soulful sounds and Motown magic. Artists like Martha & The Vandellas, The Supremes, and The Four Tops delivered soul-stirring performances on classic hits.

The surf rock craze was in full swing, with The Beach Boys’ “I Get Around” capturing the carefree California lifestyle. And for those who preferred a more melancholic sound, there were ballads like Dionne Warwick’s “Walk On By.”

Beyond the well-known names associated with 1964, this playlist unearths other soundtracks of the year, like “My Boy Lollipop” by Millie Small, a ska track that became a surprise summer hit, and “The Girl From Ipanema” by Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto, a bossa nova masterpiece that brought a touch of Brazilian cool to the airwaves.

This playlist is just a taste of the incredible music that 1964 had to offer, though even a brief exploration of 1964’s music reveals a year brimming with creativity and cultural impact. From the infectious melodies of pop anthems to the raw energy of rock and roll, these songs continue to resonate with listeners today, reminding us of the enduring power of music to capture a moment in time and transport us back. It was a year that changed the landscape of popular music forever, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire and entertain generations of listeners.

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Tunes Du Jour Presents Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson is one of the most influential and beloved figures in the history of American music. He is not only a legendary singer, songwriter, and producer, but also a humanitarian who has used his fame and fortune to support various causes.

William “Smokey” Robinson was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1940. He grew up in a musical environment, listening to the likes of Nolan Strong, Hank Ballard, and Jackie Wilson. He formed his first vocal group, the Five Chimes, while in high school, and later changed their name to the Miracles. He met Berry Gordy Jr., the founder of Motown Records, in 1957, and became one of his first artists and collaborators. He also suggested the name Motown, in honor of the Motor City.

The Miracles gave Motown its first number one hit with “Shop Around” in 1960, and went on to score many more classics, such as “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “The Tracks of My Tears,” “I Second That Emotion,” and “The Tears of a Clown.” Smokey Robinson was the lead singer and the main songwriter of the group, as well as a prolific producer for other Motown acts, such as Mary Wells, the Temptations, the Supremes, and the Marvelettes. He wrote and produced some of the most iconic songs of the Motown era, such as “My Guy,” “My Girl,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” and “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game.”

Smokey Robinson left the Miracles in 1972 to pursue a solo career, and continued to create hits, such as “Quiet Storm,” “Cruisin’”, “Being with You,” and “One Heartbeat.” He also became the vice president of Motown, and helped to nurture the careers of new artists, such as Lionel Richie, Rick James, and Teena Marie. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a solo artist and as a member of the Miracles. He also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, and a Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for his contributions to popular music.

Smokey Robinson has written and sung some of the most romantic songs ever. He has also shown his love for humanity by supporting various charities and causes, such as the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation, the Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation, UNICEF, and the United Negro College Fund. He has also invested in his hometown of Detroit by donating to the Motown Museum and supporting arts and music programs for young people.

Smokey Robinson is a living legend who has enriched our lives with his music and his love. He is a role model for aspiring artists and a source of inspiration for generations of fans. He is a treasure of American culture and a gift to the world. Let us celebrate his legacy by listening to thirty of his best songs as a vocalist, which are featured in the playlist below. Enjoy!

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 2-2-24

The Honey Cone was the first act signed to Hot Wax Records, a label started in 1968 by Eddie and Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier, who previously were staff writers and producers at Motown Records and in that role wrote twelve number one singles between 1962 and 1967, two performed by The Four Tops and the other ten by The Supremes, with lead vocals by Diana Ross, who would soon leave the trio and be replaced by Jean Terrell in 1970, with Terrell being replaced in 1973 by Scherrie Payne, who before then was the singer in a group called Glass House, also signed to Hot Wax Records, who recorded “Want Ads” prior to The Honey Cone, but neither Scherrie nor the track’s producer, Greg Perry, liked their version, leading Scherrie to re-record the song with her sister Freda, who had a number 3 record in 1970 with “Band of Gold,” a song co-penned by Holland-Dozier-Holland under assumed names, but the sisters’ version of “Want Ads” was also discarded, which then led Scherrie to suggest to Perry that he try the song again with Edna Wright singing, Wright being the lead singer for The Honey Cone and the sister of Darlene Wright, the singer for the group The Blossoms, and while you may not recognize the names Darlene Wright or The Blossoms, you may know their music, for producer Phil Spector renamed Darlene Wright Darlene Love (without her knowledge) and released records by The Blossoms under the name The Crystals, who hit number 1 with “He’s a Rebel,” and should not be but will be confused with another group called The Crystals, also produced by Phil Spector at the same time he was working with Wright/Love and The Blossoms, but let’s get back to Edna Wright, who recorded “Want Ads” with backing vocals by the other two members of The Honey Cone, Shellie Clark, who a couple of years earlier was singing backup for Ike and Tina Turner, and Carolyn Willis, who toured as a member of Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, a group whose records were produced by Phil Spector and featured vocals from Darlene Wright/Love. In June of 1971 The Honey Cone took “Want Ads” to number 1. (This paragraph is pulled from my long-awaited (by me, anyway) book, which I’m trying to get out this year.) 

The late Edna Wright of The Honey Cone was born on this date in 1945. A couple of the group’s best-known songs, including “Want Ads,” are on today’s playlist.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist: 6-16-23

Back in 2016, when Donald Trump was a candidate for president of the United States of America without impeachments and indictments on his resume, the classic song “Love Train” was played at the Republican National Convention. The O’Jays were not supportive of this use of their hit. Group member Walter Williams said “Our music, and most especially ‘Love Train,’ is about bringing people together, not building walls. I don’t appreciate being associated with Mr. Trump and his usage of our music without permission.” Added group member Eddie Levert, “I don’t agree, whatsoever, with Trump’s politics to the point where I think he just may be the anti-Christ.”

The O’Jays’ Eddie Levert turns 81 today. A few of his group’s hits are included on today’s playlist.

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Throwback Thursday: 1962

A popular misconception that I sometimes fall into is that the years after The Day The Music Died (early 1959) and before The Beatles hit in America (early 1964) the pop chart was pretty dull. Sure, there was a lot of schmaltz on the Hot 100 – there always is – but there was a lot of exciting stuff, too, as today’s Throwback Thursday playlist will attest. Girl groups, Motown, Ray Charles, James Brown, Frankie Valli, Sam Cooke, The Beach Boys and lots of other good stuff made the top 40. Have a listen to thirty of 1962’s best.

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