Saturday, March 27, 2010

Motown and My Mama

I don't know many 24-year-olds that LOVE Motown like I do...but much of my younger life was set to this music.

When I was little, about three or four, we ended up at my family farm for a while. Now, the farm was built in 1832...and hasn't been updated since the TVA first brought electricity to the Tennessee Valley. That means, there is no heating and air conditioning, no insulation, no running water, and no indoor plumbing. It's still that way today. But, when we stayed there for a was a different kind of experience. For one, it was winter and bitter cold. The only heat we had was the fireplaces (which roared and cracked), and Mama had to draw water from the well outside so that she could cook and clean. She kept an ancient radio in the kitchen, and one morning I got up extra early because I could hear the radio and my mother making all kinds of racket.
I walked in, and my mother was dancing and cooking on the old iron cookstove- at the same time. She wiggled and walked and moved her feet in ways that made me think she'd lost her mind. I'll never forget, it was the Temps singing "Ain't Too Proud To Beg". I sat down at the table my great-uncle built when he was a boy and watched her. Then Chuck Berry came on, and my mother started twisting and stirring red-eye gravy. The Twist looked like something I could do, so I asked Mama to teach me. And she did....and for the next three or four songs, Mama and I twisted, laughing at the fun (and I suspect she was also laughing at my uncoordinated attempts).
That winter and for years afterwards, I would sit in front of Mama's record player, and play these old records and some tapes (like The Righteous Brothers) over and over again, until Mama would say "I can't take anymore of that record- put on something else". But, she never told me to turn it off. And sometimes, Mama and I would still dance together.
Once, Mama, Andrika, and I were in the kitchen and Aretha Franklin came on. We had been sitting at the table, talking, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee....but when we heard that, we had to get up. And we proceeded to shake it, cigarettes in hand, all over that house (after we turned it up as loud as it would go, of course).
Sisterhood is built in dancing to these old songs. I'm sure of it. I've lived it, and I've watched it happen over and over again in movies. And as hard as life is and has been sometimes, all I gotta do is get up and throw some Aretha on, or Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, the Temps, the Four Tops...any of them. And there I am again, with my Mama, throwing down some crazy dancing with red-eye gravy or a cigarette or margaritas and beer.
I love Motown, and god bless all those artists for bringing us so much happiness.

If you wanna go see some good stuff, click on

Or, you can watch the movie version (which is amazing- those boys looks just like the originals)

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