If you don’t know where you’ve been, then you are going to have a rough time getting where you are going. I don’t collect mail in Detroit or vote there, but Detroit will always be home. It’s apart of me and my foundation. There is a lot of good in Detroit and there is a lot that can be learned from the mistakes and pitfalls the city has fallen prey to recently. No matter where I go or where I live, what happens in Detroit will always matter to me. Hope you enjoy my 9th favorite post of 2013 as much as I did traveling back down memory lane.
This is the Detroit I remember. Glittering, sparkling, beautiful, a place where anything was possible. I know they say if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. I never believed the hype. If you can survive Dexter, 8 mile, 7 mile or Cortland and make something of yourself, well you can make it even bigger in New York. Ask Madonna she was from Detroit before she started using her English accent. :-). Lol – no shade.
Detroit used to be a place where people didn’t just work hard, they dreamed, then they made the impossible happen. I could tell you a little story about a guy named Berry Gordy, but I don’t have all night.
My beloved has had some bad press lately. High crime rates, bankruptcy, the auto bailout to name a few, still it is where I started this journey. I know when most think of Detroit the image they see is a city that can’t keep its street lights on, a city struggling on life support, ready to be unhooked and put out of its misery at any moment.
This will never be my Detroit. Yes, I’m biased, but we went over that. I still think the Renaissance Building is one of the most beautiful buildings ever built. I remember all the circuses my mom took us to in Cobbo Hall or Joe Louis Arena. The games at The Palace, or The Silverdome with my dad. Christmas meant seeing the Nutcracker and then going to Hudson’s Magical Winter Wonderland. You can grow up, but a little of your childhood will always be right there under the surface, even when you move thousands of miles away. all it takes is one chord from a song and your right back home, cleaning your room singing in a hairbrush and practicing the new Temptations moves. You can leave, but the magic of Motown never leaves you. BTW, I never sang into a hairbrush, but I know people who might have.
I know many people think I’m too young to have a Motown soundtrack to my life but I’m not. Motown made music that still tells a story that is timeless today.
As a little kid I used to love to peep around the corner when my mom and aunts had parties. They had the best food. My Uncle Peyton would start jamming.Then the show would begin. I know I make a lot of references to my mama being all that and a bag chips but honey chile, you should watch her and the rest of the women in our family put it down. They are the entree, the appetizer and that Crown Royal straight, no chaser. Anywho, My cousins and I would wait till the party really started popping and then watch as they did the electric slide. Mom and my older cousin would take the floor when Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give UP” started playing. That song is so long people would start dropping like flies half way through. But mom and Marcus were still stepping at the end. I’ve only seen one person who could touch my Mama on that song and that is her big sister. We could be dead asleep in the back and as soon as that song started playing we’d get up and watch. They took stepping and hand dancing to another level. We’d practice our moves after checking theirs out and add our own. If they went out, It meant SHOWTIME AT THE APPOLLO. We’d practice in secret all week for our moment on stage. I’ve done everyone from The Heat Miser, My name is Lenny from Good Times, Sheila E, to Gladys Knight. The acts who went through the Motown school of showmanship weren’t as smooth as we were.
I wasn’t one of those kids with an imaginary friend. What did I need an imaginary friend for? I had a constant Motown Soundtrack running through my head. My Uncle Al always had a Caddie. It was usually red with the white rag top. To this very day when I see one I think of Curtis Mayfield‘s Diamonds in the Back and my Uncle Al rolling on those white walls he kept so clean they looked like snow. It seemed like every Temptations song was telling my truth. Aretha knew my very soul. I went to school with Levi Stubbs’ son. I just knew we were destined to grow old together. how could life get better? He was fine as wine as a kid. But he was slightly cocky and well I was me so clearly not a match made in heaven. 🙂
Okay, all my Motown school days weren’t perfect. Allegedly, I may have gotten into a small skirmish because my dad told me he not only wrote Stevie Wonder‘s “Isn’t She Lovely”, and Earth Wind and Fire’s September for me when I was born. I got a tad bit upset when the girl on the playground told everyone he didn’t write the songs. I’m not admitting anything, I’m just telling you the crazy rumors that went around. Yep, I had haters even then. I thought it was all about me. No matter what you say nobody has every put it down as long or as hard as old school Motown.
I may have left Detroit but my soul will always be Motown. In fact, I think I’ll do a little ballroom dancing before I lay it down tonight. Gotta keep my skills sharp. You never know when someone might think they want to challenge me. Love my family Love the Motown in me.