Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Norman Whitfield-The Daddy Remembers You

"A might oak has fallen in the forrest."
--Rev. Jessie Jackson,
eulogizing Dr. Martin Luther King

"I remember you.

You're the one who made my dreams come true.
A few kisses ago.
I remember you.
You're the one who said, "I love you too."
Didn't you know?"
--songwriter Johnny Mercer

This afternoon, the daddy is being lazy. He's sitting in a coffee shop thinking, mumbling the song "I remember you," which Johnny Mercer wrote for Judy Garland (He had a crush on her):

Between verses of "I remember you," the daddy is remembering the Harlem born, Detroit raised and, later, Los Angeles resident Norman Whitfield, the great producer/songwriter who partnered with fellow songwriter Barrett Strong to write and produce some of the greatest hits of the 60's and early 70's.

Whitfield, 65, died yesterday, September 16, 2008, from complications related to diabetes at a hospital in Los Angeles.

You may not know him, but you know his songs. My friend James, who knows music much better than I, described Whitefield this way:

"{Whitfield} wrote many hits for the Motown stable of stars, rivaled there only by the equally genius writing trio of Holland/Dozier/Holland. His hits were varied and numerous...His ability to weave a tune, then get the "Funk Brothers" to transpose his raw ideas into memorable hooks and signature bass lines were legendary; no one in the industry was ever able to match or copy it; he had a "lock" on that musical brand which became the very definition of "sophisticated soul/funk" from 1963 until 1974."

Soul Patrol, an on-line site dedicated to R&B, was even more assertive:

No one in the media will cover this, but this is hands down the most tragic of the losses we've sustained this year, even moreso than the loss of Isaac Hayes. No one had more influence on complete revolutionizing Motown and its transition from party music in its early days to the social relevance and taking the pulse of American culture than Norman Whitfield...He was the bridge that kept the company going after Holland-Dozier-Holland (rightfully) bolted. Very simply, Mr. Whitfield single-handedly changed the framework of Black popular music, making the intersection between Southern soul/funk, urban cool, rock rebellion and sophisticated pop."

From the age of 19, Norman hung around the studio, playing tamborine for Edwin Starr at Motown Records, known as "Hitsville U.S.A." He got his break when he began producing songs for the Temptations. Between 1966 and 1974, Whitfield wrote and produced numerous songs for the Temptations,
including "Papa was a rolling stone," "I wish it would rain," "Girl, why do you want to make me blue?" "Beauty is only skin deep," "I know I'm losing you," "Ain't too proud to beg," "You're my everything," "Cloud nine, "I can't get next to you," "Psychedelic Shack," "Ball of confusion," "Just my imagination" and many others. In fact, Whitfield wrote and produced so many hits for this group that he was called "the man behind the Temptations." But he wrote and produced others as well.

The songs he wrote and produced for Marvin Gaye included "Heard it through the grapevine," "Pride and Joy," "Too busy thinking about my baby," among others. He wrote and produced "I heard it through the grapevine,"End of our road," and "Friendship train" for Gladys Knight and the Pips. And he wrote "Car wash," "I'm going down," and "Wishing on a star" for Rose Royce.

In 1973, Whitfield left Motown and started his own record producing company. Except for the hit "Car wash," he was unable to come near the success he achieved with acts like The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight and the Pips. But perhaps more than any other single individual, Whitfield was responsible for what was called "the Motown sound."

Another mighty oak has fallen in the forrest; and, Norman, the daddy remembers you. You, too, made a lot of dreams come true.


MacDaddy said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...


September 17, 2008 3:27 PM

Blogger Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

OMG. Me and my lil' friends used to dance and sing and party off of ALL those songs! Things were safe back then even in DC, and we would stay outside late (near the house, of course) and sing under the street lights or in our yards and poke fun of each other and laugh. Good times indeed.

I still play a few on that list every now and then and had my kids shaking their butts to I Heard It Through The Grapevine over the summer.

Yes, a mighty tree has fallen, but he planted many musical seeds and new artists in his lifetime.

September 17, 2008 4:26 PM

Blogger said...

Hey there Daddy!

Thank you for this tribute!!

I have passed on the blog award I received to you! I announced it on my blog today! (smiles)

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

September 17, 2008 6:27 PM

Blogger ng2000 said...

Valuable resource of temptations news summaries:

September 18, 2008 4:29 AM

Anonymous said...

He was a true legend in his own time and went on to produce his own records for his label Whitfield Records...the most famous group being Rose Royce.

He innovated many sonic advances in recording technology; utilizing sound effects to their utmost, he crafted a sound unlike no other artist before or since.

Yes, this was an American genius and he will be missed.

September 18, 2008 12:22 PM

Blogger MacDaddy said...

kit: Thinking of you in D.C. as a teenager outside your house dancing in the streets to "Heard it through the grapevine" really takes me back to that same time watching the same thing. It was usually the teenage girls dancing among themselves and the boys watching. The girls knew they were watching, but they didn't care. They were just having fun.

Lisa: you honor me. I appreciate you and the work you and Gina over at whataboutourdaughters as much as anyone blogging. Thank you so much. Unfortunately, I'm having problems getting to your blog. A nerdy friend of mine is coming over to help me with it this evening. I'll be in touch. Luv u.

September 18, 2008 12:30 PM
Blogger MacDaddy said...

james: thanks for the wisdom.

September 18, 2008 12:31 PM
Blogger said...

Hey there Daddy!

To access my blog, you just have to add your google username and your password...the same one you use when posting comments on blogs!! Stop on by! (smiles)

You are sooo deserving of the award! I looove blog awards! (smiles)

I haven't been to Gina's blog in months...I need to check out what she's been writing!

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Great songs. MY experience is running the back roads with lots of beer, smoke and girls listening to those tunes on the radidio.
Who'd have guessed one guy wrote and produced them all? A mighty quiet oak indeed.
Thanks for the education Daddy.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

well anyone who says learning about it means read greenspans book and having a man who is vp of a global bank that lost 70 billion last year says it all