There were no tributes here to Marvin Gaye on Friday, the anniversary of the day he tragically passed away, or yesterday, the date of his birth. But, thanks to the instrumental theme of the Morning Groove posts on Sundays, he finds a kind of tribute here.
Marvin Gaye was, in my youth, the coolest singer there was. Not for the reasons you might think, though. Oh sure, he had great range, and his voice was one of the best ever for male R&B singers. No, the reason I thought he was the coolest didn’t even have much to do with him, or so I thought back then. The reason to me that he was cool was the backup singers he had. I just loved the background parts on his songs and I always thought, whoever those guys are singing, they must be the coolest dudes on the planet. It wasn’t until I got older and paid attention to liner notes that I realized that those backup singers were multi-tracked versions of Gaye himself.
For today’s song, of course, there is no trace of Gaye the singer. Today, we focus on Gaye the musician. During the early 70s, blaxploitation movies were the rage, and many of the prominent musicians of that era put together soundtrack albums for a lot of those movies. Isaac Hayes did the soundtrack for Shaft, Curtis Mayfield did the Superfly soundtrack, and James Brown did Black Caesar, to name three examples. Gaye got his chance at a soundtrack right after the success of his What’s Going On album. While his Trouble Man isn’t necessarily an essential piece of his catalog, it does contain the title track single (where he does sing), but it is filled mostly with instrumental songs.
Today’s morning groove could function as my personal theme song. After all, there’s a “T” in my name, and every now and then I can play it cool. To me, it sounds just like what it is called: cool. This unedited version that I found on YouTube I had only heard for the first time right before I posted it here. I’d heard the album version many times. My understanding is that Gaye played all of the instruments on the track except for the saxophone, which was played by Trevor Lawrence.
Since the blog already has a theme song, I can call this my theme. You can call it whatever you want, but it’s the Morning Groove for today. And as always, thanks for reading and listening.