Song written by Carl Smith, Raynard Miner and Gary Jackson; performed by Jackie Wilson
Perhaps the greatest song Motown ever recorded. Oh, wait… it was recorded in Chicago and released on Brunswick Records. But wait, there’s more- the Funk Brothers (the Motown house band) had driven over to Chicago for the weekend and worked in the studio for this track. And the backup singers usually worked Motown gigs. And who wrote and produced Jackie Wilson’s earliest solo hits ten years earlier? Berry Gordy, Jr., naturally. When Gordy lost that job, he borrowed some money and started his own thing. Does that mean that Motown started with Jackie Wilson or that Jackie Wilson had his comeback on the shoulders of Hitsville?
Can you step in the same river twice? Of course not. The answer is the whole point to the question.
We live in the age of commentary. Nothing happens that someone somewhere doesn’t espouse an expert opinion. This entire blog is an exercise in commentary carried to the point of hubris if the internet is your god. That makes it no different from any other blog. Then there are the talking heads on the profusion of new shows. For artists, we have the endless supply of critics and essayists. Once again, not excluded here.
What does everybody have in common? An opinion that just has to be heard. If I were to say that’s a bad thing, then I would be a cynical old curmudgeon as well as a hypocrite. So, I won’t go there.
another thing shared by all the commentators is a lack of first person knowledge. From the artist’s perspective, for example, is it really a comeback? We look at a tragedy like Clyde McPhatter, an early mentor to Wilson, and try to make sense of it all with our incredible view of the past. It becomes very easy to forget that life is lived moment to moment by everyone, artists included. The decision to add horns here or demand candles in the dressing room or stop using adverbs are not made with the benefit of seeing how you will be judged. They’re all feelings and ideas and experiences crammed into a moment that was not deemed more or less important than the moments that preceded it.
Smart artists thrive on the commentary about their art, but always know that a small kernel of ignorance provided the basis for it. That’s tough to remember when they’re saying you just made a tremendous comeback when you hadn’t ever stopped being an artist. Life and experience are fuel for artists. They want to be observed. I’m just wondering if we need so many professional observers.
What’s it all about?
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 158 more to go.
New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.
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