I recall a Friday night in the summer of 1964. A friend and I were with our dates at the Michigan State Fair. We were not there for the rides or the food. We didn’t even visit the auto exhibits. The real attraction was the Motown Review. Over the course of two hours we heard The Temptation, Four Tops, Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas and The Supremes. Junior Walker and the All Stars were on stage the entire time, serving as the house band. Somewhere toward the end of that evening I recall remarking to my friend, “It does not get any better than this.”
The memories of summers in Motown came back yesterday as I heard the news of the death of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. While Aretha did not record for Motown Records (she signed with Atlantic Records), she was very much a part of local culture. Aretha Franklin grew up in the same neighborhood as Smokey Robinson and other Motown stars. Two of the more famous artist Levi Stubbs, the lead singer in the Four Tops, and David Ruffin, lead singer for the Temptations, have already gone to join the heavenly choir. I am sure they welcomed Sister Aretha with open arms.
Music is a big part of my life. My favorite radio station is Sixties on Six on XM Radio. I know almost all the words by heart. A favorite game when my grandsons are in the car is the stump grandpa. I name the artist and year for almost every song that is played. That is because there seems to be a memory attached to every song. I can attach them to who I was with and what I was doing.
While it is vital that I share my faith heritage, I want my children and grandchildren to understand the context that I grew up in. God has been good and music is one of the gifts that continues to bring joy to my life.