I Needed a Distraction


p style=”text-align:justify”>After watching almost 4 days, non-stop, of disaster coverage from the Bahamas and the southeastern shores of the United States, I took a moment to distract from the horrors.  Lives were lost, property destroyed and irreparable damage to souls and psyche will live in the nightmares of the respective resident of each area for years and lifetimes to come.  It seems almost blasphemous to turn away, even for a second, while tears flow and winds blow, flattening a lifetime of memories and accomplishment.


With the President making a mockery of the disaster with continued lies highlighted with a Sharpie-marker, I took a moment to relive the memories of how music soothes the soul. Speaking of soul, I watched the Showtime networks’ airing of Hitsville: The Making of Motown, yesterday.  Story after story, as told by Motown founder Berry Gordy and its most famous writer/performer William ‘Smokey’ Robinson, took me to a place that for just a few hours relieved the tension. I wished the serenity of the times could somehow be transferred to the heartache of a nation literally drowning in sorrow.  I wanted the people of the Bahamas to sway, as I did to the strains of ‘Just my Imagination’ as they may have done, days before calamity struck.  

Even writing this I fear some may think I am trivializing the deaths and screams of the dead or injured, that is not the case. Music has always been my salvation; I relive moments of my life through song; I remember death and life through lyrical artistry; Most of all I want people to feel what I feel when Marvin Gaye tickles the black and white keys of a Steinway and Sons or James Jamerson of the famed Funk Brothers plucks his bass guitar, pure joy.      

The beauty of music is that the meanings never change but people do. The writers and performers give us what they believe will live forever and although sometimes old tunes and melodies fade, every once in a while, something timeless comes along. I dare anyone to listen to Marvin Gaye’s masterpiece album [What’s Going On] released in 1971 and not think it was written last week.
Berry Gordy presented to the world the Supremes and The Temptations. He made us privy to the Wonder of Stevie and the Jackson Five. These women, men, and boys left indelibly imprinted harmonies in our hearts that in times of trouble we hum to ourselves for a moment of solace. I dare you to sing “Stop in the Name of Love” and not raise your right hand as if to stop traffic, I know—impossible.

Mr. Gordy and Mr. Robinson are showing what the years of genius can do to a man.  They are greying, wrinkled and not as swift on their feet, but their music will make them young forever. It was my 11th birthday and the first song I ever learned word for word from beginning to end was a Smokey tune, ‘tears of a clown.’  Remembering the heart-wrenching sights from the storm damage and hoping for a minimal of lives gone, I remembered a few lines from the song,

Now if there's a smile on my face
Don't let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression
Don't let this smile I wear
Make you think that I don't care

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