ILCR Pick: 7 Motown Songs From The ’60s

ILCR Pick: 7 Motown Songs From The ’60s | Society Of Rock Videos

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Soul Classics

Motown changed the music landscape and helped bring together people of all ages and races. Its impact and significance on pop culture and society can never be understated. Founded in 1959 by Detroit songwriter Berry Gordy Jr, the record company had over 150 #1 hit songs and its influence reached far and wide – transcending time, generation, and genres. It wasn’t long before Motown turned unknown musicians into household names.

Motown churned out classics that changed America and the whole world. Picking only seven 1960s songs to represent it is no easy task. But here are the tracks that still sound fresh though they were released over five decades ago.

7. Mary Wells – “My Guy” (1964)

Mary Wells was Motown’s first female star and this became her biggest hit. It topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, Cash Box R&B, and Cash Box Top 100. When she recorded her vocals, she imitated Mae West’s husky voice and said: “I was only joking but the producers said ‘Keep it going, keep it going’.”

6. The Supremes – “Where Did Our Love Go?” (1964)

Interestingly, when this song was given to The Supremes, they didn’t exactly like it and felt that it wouldn’t be as big of a hit as The Marvelette’s “Please Mr. Postman” but they didn’t have much choice so they went ahead and recorded it. As it turned out, it topped the charts and became an instant classic.

5. The Marvelettes – “Please Mr. Postman” (1961)

Their debut single is also the first Motown song to hit #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It has been covered by several artists including The Beatles. William Garrett originally wrote it as a blues track but member Georgia Dobbins rewrote the song. 22-year old Marvin Gaye played the drums here.

4. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – “The Tracks of My Tears” (1965)

Smokey Robinson explained on The Motown Story, “‘Tracks of My Tears’ was actually started by Marv Tarplin, who is a young cat who plays guitar for our act. So he had this musical thing [sings melody], you know, and we worked around with it, and worked around, and it became ‘Tracks of My Tears’.” Some of the popular cover versions include that from Johnny Rivers and Linda Ronstadt.

3. Martha & The Vandellas – “Dancing in the Street” (1964)

It’s considered as one of Motown’s signature songs, it also became Martha & the Vandellas’ trademark track. Speaking in a documentary, Martha Reeves shared: “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.”

2. The Temptations – “My Girl” (1964)

Written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, Robinson drew inspiration from his wife and Miracles member Claudette Rogers Robinson. He also wrote it thinking about David Ruffin’s voice. He had unique vocals and Robinson wanted to make a song that was “melodic and sweet” but something he could also “belt out” too.

1. Marvin Gaye – “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (1968)

Originally recorded by The Miracles in 1966, Marvin Gaye’s recording sessions took over a month. Gaye’s rendition became a hit and is considered the definitive version of this classic.

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