Thursday, December 18, 2008

It was the third of September



I love the beginning instrumental of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" by the Temptations because it embodies the concept of point of view, which is a sacred tenet of good writing. I guess that's why the word composition applies to music as well as my chosen craft.

A YouTube doesn't really do "Papa" justice. You have to listen to it on a better stereo or with headphones. When you do, you hear the specific attitude of each instrument. They enter the song just like an actor steps onto a stage. Each one is fleshed out, there to do a job on its own and as part of the whole. If I were to choose one to share my bed with, it would have to be the horn that comes in at about 32 seconds into the clip.

Hey baby.

Anyway, that's how my brain works. "Papa" isn't just a song, it's a perfectly orchestrated group of characters. I so dig that.

9 comments:

ajooja said...

Man, I just love that song. The Temptations are awesome. Thanks.

(S)wine said...

There's a great documentary on the MUSICIANS who played on virtually all the Motown stuff. The Funk Brothers. You and the Goat should check it out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Funk_Brothers

deangc said...

You just like the horn because it's... horny.

Horny. Yeah, I said that.

deangc said...

You'd think I'd be ashamed of myself, but I'm not. Might be something wrong with me.

Kirk Jusko said...

I was going to make a stupid joke about Mick Jagger being David Ruffin's father. Good thing I didn't--Ruffin had left the group by then.

Anyway, while researching the aborted joke, I came across an interesting fact. Dennis Edwards father died September 3rd, the same day the father dies in the song. It was just a coincidence; the song originally wasn't even written for the Temptations. But Edwards would have none of it. He took it as a personal slight. The producer, Norman Whitfield (who also co-wrote the song) decided to use this to his advantage. He had Edwards sing take after take after take, making him angrier and angrier, which is, of course, the song's dominent emotion.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to research a stupid joke about the song Bob Dylan wrote about Keith Richards.

Erin O'Brien said...

The joke is that I had the wrong month in my post title!

Fixed ....

Anonymous said...

The sound track to my life. Of the original five, 3 hailed from Alabama. Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin and Paul Williams. Or is that "Just My Imagination...."

RJ

John Ettorre said...

Some of those old Temptations songs are so damn good that it makes my teeth ache just to think about them. They work on every possible level: uniquely wonderful storytelling, music that makes you stop what you're doing and listen (Ball of Confusion, for instance), and a style and ethos that just plain sets it apart from every other band/act/group in history.

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

I love all Motown - thought you were too young for it though! Even though you are much younger you might relate to a few of my Cleveland Christmas memories on the blog today. Happy holidays to you, Erin.