Wednesday, September 17, 2008

RIP Norman Whitfield (1943-2008)

It is with great sadness that I relate the death of another creative genius, Norman Whitfield, Motown songwriter. The Temptations version of his "Just My Imagination" will forever take me back to nights working at Pizza Hut on Canyon Road in Provo, Utah. When we closed in the Summer after doing EFY nights, the volume of dishes to wash, cash to count, and stuff to clean was a lot. The stress of processing all those order for EFY was great, and we often found that the normal rock and roll didn't make us feel better as we cleaned. This song and the soundtrack to Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? were our favorites, gently calming us as we thought nice stress-free thoughts. The gentle melody, the romantic lyrics, the quality of the voices, it's all there. Great song, great band, great singers.

One of my favorite bands of all time, right up there with the Beatles, the Eagles, and Bob Marley & the Wailers is Creedence Clearwater Revival. And, my favorite song by CCR is "Heard It Through the Grapevine," which is another Whitfield tune (made famous by Marvin Gaye and then Gladys Knight & the Pips). CCR took it to its perfection in an eight-minute jam that I love to listen to while I write; it's right up there with "Fortunate Son."

If you're unfamiliar with this master's work, check out the bottom of his wikipedia page. He wrote at least ten songs that I can sing from memory. While he hasn't had a hit since I was a toddler, I bow to his songwriting prowess and the good memories his tunes bring to mind.

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