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Friday, November 7, 2008

The Sound of Young America

A few songs into the dance portion of my wedding reception, my Aunt Margaret, a proper woman of leisure, told me, "Play some Motown." We did immediately. The music Barry Gordy's little-record-company-that-could made in the '60s is already timeless. I remember hearing Motown music growing up from my sisters and brother, and it sounded like it came out the day before. Like their chart peers the Beatles, the Motown artists never age. The Temptations always sounds as fresh as they look in the picture above.

On a broader level, Motown paved the way for Barack Obama. The popular black artists who preceded Motown were not young. Motown brought young, black America into whites' car radios and The Ed Sullivan Show. They were the non-threatening vanguard of the civil rights movement. I truly love and admire the artistry of the Motown musicians. This year is the 50th anniversary of the label, and I'm sure you will see much publicity about that fact. Vanity Fair provides an oral history on the label that made it all happen.

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