Song 174A: “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” Part One, “If At First You Don’t Succeed…”
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For those who haven’t heard the announcement I posted , songs from this point on will sometimes be split among multiple episodes, so this is the first part of a two-episode look at the song “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”. This week we take a short look at the song’s writers, Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, and the first released version by Gladys Knight and the Pips. In two weeks time we’ll take a longer look at the sixties career of the song’s most famous performer, Marvin Gaye. This episode is quite a light one. That one… won’t be. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a half-hour bonus episode, on “Bend Me Shape Me” by Amen Corner. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at and Resources Mixcloud will be up with the next episode. For Motown-related information in this and other Motown episodes, I’ve used the following resources: Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound by Nelson George is an excellent popular history of the various companies that became Motown. To Be Loved by Berry Gordy is Gordy’s own, understandably one-sided, but relatively well-written, autobiography. Women of Motown: An Oral History by Susan Whitall is a collection of interviews with women involved in Motown. I Hear a Symphony: Motown and Crossover R&B by J. Andrew Flory is an academic look at Motown. The Motown Encyclopaedia by Graham Betts is an exhaustive look at the people and records involved in Motown’s thirty-year history. Motown: The Golden Years is another Motown encyclopaedia. And Motown Junkies is an infrequently-updated blog looking at (so far) the first 693 tracks released on Motown singles. For information on Marvin Gaye, and his relationship with Norman Whitfield, I relied on Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye by David Ritz. I’ve also used information on Whitfield in  Ain’t Too Proud to Beg: The Troubled Lives and Enduring Soul of the Temptations by Mark Ribowsky, I’ve also referred to interviews with Whitfield and Strong archived at , notably “The Norman Whitfield interview”, John Abbey, Blues & Soul, 1 February 1977 For information about Gladys Knight, I’ve used her autobiography. The best collection of Gladys Knight and the Pips’ music is this 3-CD set, but the best way to hear Motown hits is in the context of other Motown hits. This five-CD box set contains the first five in the Motown Chartbusters series of British compilations. The Pips’ version of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” is on disc 2, while Marvin Gaye’s is on disc 3, which is famously generally considered one of the best single-disc various artists compilations ever. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Before I start, a brief note — this episode contains some brief mentions of miscarriage and drug abuse. The history of modern music would be immeasurably different had it not been for one car breakdown. Norman Whitfield spent the first fifteen years of his life in New York, never leaving the city, until his grandmother died. She’d lived in LA, and that was where the funeral was held, and so the Whitfield family got into a car and drove right across the whole continent — two thousand five hundred miles — to attend the old lady’s funeral. And then after the funeral, they turned round and started to drive home again. But they only got as far as Detroit when the car, understandably, gave up the ghost.  Luckily, like many Black families, they had family in Detroit, and Norman’s aunt was not only willing to put the family up for a while, but h
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For those who haven’t heard the announcement I posted , songs from this point on will sometimes be split among multiple episodes, so this is the second part of a two-episode look at the song “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”. This week we’re looking at the career of Marvin Gaye from 1963 through...
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