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Eight Hundred Dollars And A Dream

1299 words - 6 pages

An assembly line at Lincoln-Mercury automobile plant is where the idea of Motown first developed in the mind of Berry Gordy. Every day, Berry Gordy watched a bare piece of metal frame roll down the assembly line and reached the end only to become a shiny brand new automobile. He believed that this concept was ideal and could be used to produce music. Mr. Gordy’s vision was to take an unknown person with just a dream and raw talent and turn them into a star in the music industry. His assembly line idea and vision later became a reality we all know and love as “Motown” (motownmuseum.org) Mr. Gordy is responsible for many stars in the music industry who just like the strap of metal became a vision of beauty once Gordy finished with them. The term ‘Motown’ is popular and refers to a legend, a style of music, a state of mind, and a successful music industry.
The beginning of the Motown legend started when Berry Gordy borrowed eight hundred dollars from family members to launch Tamla Records in 1959. By 1961, Gordy scored a million selling recording, the Miracles’ “Shop Around” (Waller 11). Within ten years, the legendary Motown had released twenty-two number one pop hits, forty-eight number one rhythm and blues hits, and had become the largest black-owned business in America (15). Actor Sidney Poitier best described Barry Gordy as a person who was set out to make music for all people regardless of race. In doing so, Berry Gordy made black music, the Motown sound, part of the mainstream popular culture in America (mackinac.org). Gordy had white teens all over America humming the catchy tunes of the Four Tops and the Temptations. After that, he promoted a flurry of black stars including Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder. Gordy wanted their music, and that of other Motown singers, to reach the larger white audience in America (bsnpubs.com). Gordy was legendary for hustling musical talent from the streets of Detroit and pinching pennies to survive (mackinac.org).
Motown’s style of music is known for its beat. The Motown sound was in full bloom by 1963, thanks to no small part to the impeccable house band known as the Funk Brothers. Where drummer Benny Benjamin had once used brushes and kept the backbeat relatively light, his sound was steadily becoming more aggressive as he drove the rhythmic thrust like a steam engine. Bassist James Jamerson asserted himself with the lines of startling suppleness and imagination. Together they formed a world-class rhythm section (Dahl, 23). Author Don Waller stated, “It’s the heartbeat, the very pulse of life itself, the old in-out, in-out, as little Alex so fondly put it” (13). Motown’s melodic, propulsive bass lines playing off a drummer who sounds like he’s imitating a can press is found in the Four Top’s 1966 chartbuster, “Reach Out, I’ll Be There (14)”. You can’t help but enjoy the flutes that introduce a third melody and how the percussion adds a third rhythmic dimension. ...

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