"Ooh, I bet you're wonderin' how I knew"
April 19, 2010 5:56 AM Subscribe
posted by kirkaracha (41 comments total)
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In 1966, Motown songwriters Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield wrote a song about Strong's relationship troubles, and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles recorded it. Motown CEO Berry Gordy thought the song was "horrible" and shelved it. The song was "I Heard it Through The Grapevine."
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles recorded the first version of the song in August 1966; it was released nearly 40 years later on Motown Sings Motown Treasures
. A remastered version was on their 1968 album Special Occasion
recorded the song in early 1967 (with backing by The Andantes
, The Funk Brothers
, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
). The complex arrangement took two months to record. Norman Whitfield had Gaye sing the song in a higher register
than he was used to, a technique Whitfield had used with David Ruffin in producing The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." Berry Gordy thought the song was horrible and Motown released Gaye's "Your Unchanging Love"
as a single instead.
Motown released the Gladys Knight & The Pips version
as a single
in June 1967. Their funky-for-Motown version was influenced by Aretha Franklin's "Respect." It reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart and number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in November 1967 and was Motown's best-selling single to that point.
Marvin Gaye's version
was released on his August 1968 album In the Groove
, but "You"
was released as the single. Listeners started requesting "Grapevine" from DJs and Motown finally released Gaye's version as a single in October 1968. It reached number one on the Billboard R&B and Hot 100 charts in December 1968 and was Motown's best-selling single to that point. (It was Motown's biggest-selling single until The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There" in late 1970.)
Jimmy Durante introduces Marvin Gaye
in a live performance (with a hits medley first; "Grapevine" only
) on Hollywood Palace
in January 1969. Gaye's performance
at the 1980 Montreux Jazz Festival featured a dramatization of hearing it through the grapevine, with phone props. He performed the song with Gladys Knight & The Pips
in 1983 (available on The Master 1961-1984
Marvin Gaye talks about Gladys Knight and the song; the Funk Brothers talk about the song with Joan Osborne. (The Funk Brothers were the band on the recordings by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Gladys Knight & The Pips and The Temptations.) Dave Marsh called the song "a lost continent of music and emotion."
Gaye's a capella version has been mentioned previously. Funk Brothers instrumental version. The song's been covered many times, notably by The Temptations (1969), Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970), The Undisputed Truth (1971), and Doug Anthony All Stars. Roger Troutman's cover was a Billboard R&B No. 1 in 1982. The recent Kaiser Chiefs cover has plenty of cowbell.
Barrett Strong started out at Motown as a singer, and his "Money (That's What I Want)" was one of Motown's biggest early hits. His first Motown album was released 40 years later. Previous thread in memory of Norman Whitfield.
"Grapevine telegraph" as slang for gossip dates to the 1850s.