Fast forward to 2001
I was attending a Doo Wop show in NYC and I met a White woman there who was at least 10-15 years older than me. We had a nice conversation about the artists who were appearing on the show. Then she mentioned that she had been to the Soul-Patrol.com website and really liked it.
She told me that she especially liked the section about Marvin Gaye and that her favorite Marvin Gaye album was “What’s Going On.”
She told me that the album had literally changed her life. She explained; “I wasn’t prejudiced or anything like that, although most of my family & friends were. But I just never thought about Black people at all. There weren’t any Black people in my neighborhood or church, and I didn’t go to school with any.
However I did like listening to R&B music on the radio and I
brought the music. I was always a big fan of Motown, so when the Marvin Gaye album “What’s Going On” came out I brought it.
I just wanted to let you know that listening to that album changed my life. It gave me the freedom to think about Black people as people and I think that it did the same thing for many other White people who grew up like me.”
That evening, driving home I was reminded of the famous quote; “The Civil Rights Movement didn’t free Black people, it freed White people….”
Fast forward to May/2013
I am in Bethlehem, PA. I am sitting in a fabulous nightclub there with my wife & daughter. Besides the three of us, out of a crowd of perhaps 300 people, there are only about 5-10 other Blacks in the audience, most of whom appear to be there working.
We are there to see our friend Jason Miles doing his “Grover Live”
concert. This is an excellent show that I have reviewed previously. It is a tribute to the music of the late Grover Washington Jr.
On this night Jason had the fabulous Maya Azucena as the featured
vocalist. And of course the time in the show, that I knew would come, finally came. They did “Inner City Blues,” with Maya doing a great vocal rendition.
As well you might expect, I started bobbin’ my head, snappin’ my fingers, bangin’ on the table like it was a set of bongos, etc.
Then I turned to my daughter and asked her; “Have you ever heard this song before?”
She looked at me like I was crazy at first, then I could see “the gears inside of her head” moving and finally she said; “Of course I know this song, it’s Marvin Gaye…”
I breathed a sigh of relief (maybe I have raised this kid the right way after all…..lol)
Then I started signing the lyrics…
And my daughter said; “Dad I think that I would rather hear your friend Maya sing it instead…”
(so I stopped….lol)
However I did look around the room and observed that all of the White people sitting in the audience were either bobbing their head, beating on the table, snapping their fingers, moving their feet under the table or mouthing the lyrics.
Seeing that made me smile.
It also made me think about the story that the White woman told me at the NYC Doo Wop show in 2001.
And I wondered if the once controversial song “Inner City Blues,” had now become elevated to the status of being an American Pop music standard?
What do you think?