Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Marvin Gaye-I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Ains, a soulful brother if there ever was one, comes by with "one of" his favorites. Find him at a nearby bar, singing motown greats like this jamandahalf. Thanks Ains, you're the man.

Why is it that when we discuss the things we love, people are so quick to throw out the term “favorite"?

Can we not just converse about the music, books, or works of art that find a way to move our soul without having to give just one the almighty rank of “numero uno”? Are we not, as human beings, constantly evolving? As we experience changes in ourselves, do these “favorites” not similarly change?

Perhaps this concept has always bothered me because whenever I’m asked to name my “favorite” movie, band, or book, I consistently hedge my bets with a throw-away line: “Well if I had a gun to my head I’d guess I’d have to say….” (Die Hard, The Stones, Everybody Poops).

I’ve specifically struggled with this term when it comes to the question of my “favorite” song. Everything inside me wants to pick something obscure, something that only “true” fans of music would appreciate, but I just can’t do it. With this there can be no hedging. From the tender age of five, when I could be found running around my living room in He-Man undies and abusing my dad’s copy of The Big Chill soundtrack, nothing has ever managed to move me like "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."

Everyone knows Grapevine (or at least everyone I want to know), whether it be Gladys Knight’s gospel foot-tapper, Creedence’s eleven minute bayou jam session, or “I know we’re cute, but please eat us” version turned in by the California Raisins. However, none of these can touch the sheer heartfelt force of Gaye’s proclamation of romantic deception. From the piano line (which manages to chill your spine while it moves your hips) to the silky smooth wail that seems to come straight from a lover’s trampled heart, Marvin all but guarantees that no one will sneak behind his back again. Grapevine is one of those classic tunes that can instantly snap you out of whatever funk you might happen to be in. It’s as if a zombie-version of Gaye is patting you on the back and letting you know he feels what you’re going through, but now it’s time to boogie.

Truth be told, I chose Grapevine as my next jam-and-half for the same reason I chose (and will continue to) my previous entries: it makes me want to jump on a table, shake my ass, and sing as if I know what I’m doing. As anyone who’s ever shared a drink (or six) with me can attest, each sip I take is just another tick on the clock before I bust out into song. And who knows? Maybe my next one will be my favorite.

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