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Goin’ to Motown!

With the help of one of our dedicated transcribers and patron Audrey Joy , we have received a steady supply of Motown hits every week ready to go in the embossing queue. When I read through these titles, the melodies come to my ears immediately, and I don’t think I EVER heard anyone say they didn’t like Motown songs. They were certainly a big part of my school days and dances.

Soon, we will have Motown: 50th Anniversary Songbook available to borrow, but in the meantime, I thought I would provide a bit of history of this era and list some songs we can send in braille right away. You can easily create a storyline with these titles of a relationship from beginning to breakup, getting-back-together, breaking up again in the usual teenage fashion until there is some final resolution.

Rhythm & Blues (R&B) is a product of African-American Southern gospel singing and a pronounced beat. With the migration to urban centers, rhythms became faster and harmonies a bit more complex. Early examples were Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, opening the way for “soul” music’s popularity in the 1960s. Berry Gordy began producing records in Detroit, aka Motor City, in the 1950s with simple lyrics over chord progressions, colored with woodwinds, percussion and a gospel chorus. What became known as the “Motown” sound culminated in the songs of Holland-Dozier-Holland, and I saw their names many times on the 45s (those are small records for those of you under the age of 50) I bought; they wrote many great hits sung by The Supremes.

Young lady sorts 45 rpm short play record discs  and long playing discs on table.

Young lady sorts 45 rpm short play record discs and long playing discs on table.

The Supremes

Photo of The Supremes, female singing group from the 1960s.

Here’s a quick Motown tale about Michael and Kimberly, two teens in the 60s. Michael saw Kimberly in the hall at school one day and said What’s Going On, I Heard It Through the Grapevine that you wanted to be My Girl. Kimberly replied, well, if you’ll be My Guy. He declared You Are the Sunshine of my Life and she replied that You’re All I Need to Get By. He said You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me and they both went Dancing in the Street. He confided to her that he liked The Way You Do the Things You Do. Kimberly was happy to hear that, but she said You Keep Me Hanging On, Where Did Our Love Go? and told him to Stop! In the Name of Love before he broke her heart and please, think it over. Can’t you see The Tracks of my Tears?

He assured her Someday We’ll Be Together because you know I Never Can Say Goodbye. Soon Kimberly received a telephone call and Michael told her I Just Called to Say I Love You. She jumped up and declared Oh! I Got to Be There because Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to keep me from you! They both said How Sweet It Is and I’m Too Busy Thinking About My Baby. Michael admitted to Kimberly Baby I Need Your Lovin’ and she replied You’ve Made Me So Very Happy. He called her My Cherie Amour and they both agreed, Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.

I like happy endings. These are some of the braille music titles available now by request.

The End.

Blind Lemon Jefferson

Recently, I discovered that September is the birth month of Blind Lemon Jefferson, a tried and true guitar player and singer who is celebrated in the American folk-blues world. It’s been awhile since I’ve celebrated a musician’s birthday on this blog, by writing a post about their career and lasting accomplishments. I can’t resist the […]

A King and a (Fairy) Queen: Music by Henry Purcell in the NLS Collection

Today (September 10th) we celebrate Henry Purcell’s 356th birthday [Note: this date is actually disputed as no official baptismal record has been found. However, we will use this commonly accepted date, as it gives us a chance to talk about his music!]. Purcell’s contribution to Western classical music is indispensable, as it has influenced numerous other […]

Back to School

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Interview with a NLS Engineer & Music Patron

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Now…That’s Entertainment!

Summertime, and the living is easy… …Except here at the NLS Music Section where we use the time to update our catalogs and circulars. In the near future, we will be offering a new version of the former Instructional Cassette Recordings Catalog. But because of the growth of the collection it will be divided into two separate catalogs. […]

Music for the Less Common Instrument

The Music Section’s collection of music scores and audio materials is plentiful. Piano music, yes! Guitar lead sheets, we’ve got them! Vocal librettos, songs, etc. But, what about music written for lesser known instruments? Do you play the penny whistle or know how to yodel? The music collection also contains titles for instrument or voice […]