ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969
This is Chapter 18 (day 30):
AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH
Written by Nikolas Ashford and Valerie SImpson
Performed by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell
Recorded at Motown Studios, Detroit, MI 1967
Drummers: Benny “Papa Zita” Benjamin and Uriel Jones
Performed by Diana Ross and the Supremes
Recorded at Motown Studios, Detroit, MI 1969
Drummers: Uriel Jones and Richard “Pistol” Allen of the Funk Brothers
“Norman!” Molly shrieked from the back of the bus as she struggled to get up. They must have had an accident. She had to wake up, had to get to her cousin. “Normaaaaan!”
“Stay there!” screamed Norman as he tried to stop the bus from swinging wildly back and forth and skidding off the road into a ditch. He was horrified to realize they could smash into a telephone pole and burst into a fiery furnace with a full tank of gas.
“Go!” the stranger urged once again. “Get away before he can come after you!”
Norman yelled at the stranger. “Who are you?”
“Norman!” Molly wailed. She had grabbed onto a bus seat and was finding her footing. “Turn on the lights!”
A two-fer of the same song this time, above by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell, and below by The Supremes. Listen to how different they are, recorded in the same studio, two years apart, percussion by the Funk Brothers both times, but two very different acts, with very different approaches, different purposes, and in part, different audiences.
Welcome to ANTHEM, Motown.
I love both versions. I’m partial to Marvin Gaye’s, but the ending of the Supremes version is awfully inspiring, eh?
In researching these songs, I was most pulled to the story of Tammy Terrell, and her battle with cancer, and how, when she lost that battle, in 1970, Marvin Gaye was lost as well. He would come out of that time with the album “What’s Going On?” which is a testament to a new way of approaching the power of music for Marvin Gaye, as an activist against the war in Vietnam and against racial profiling and much more.
I use the single “What’s Going On?” in KENT STATE, my book that publishes next spring. ANTHEM serves as a springboard into the ’70s as well as a hard look at the mountain we climbed in order to get ourselves out of Vietnam and bring our troops home.
Plus, as Molly says in ANTHEM: “A night drive through the North Alabama mountains is inadvisable.”