Dear Michael and Caroline,
I love the music of Motown no less today than I did on that Saturday night 42 years ago. It still speaks to me, maybe more clearly than ever. I’ve never stopped listening to it, more the music than the lyrics, and have never, for that matter, stopped dancing to it. I own an eight-CD set with all the greatest hits, but play those tunes, as a rule, only if I’m already on my feet. I’ll put on the headset of my Sony Walkman, probably among the last people clinically alive who still listens to music on anything other than an IPod, and go onto the terrace of our apartment in Forest Hills, Queens, overlooking the fountain in our courtyard – it could be hottest summer or coldest winter; it makes no difference – and re-enact the same dance moves my friends and I attempted at the talent show.
The music we loved as teenagers tends to stay with us forever. Early enthusiasms seldom dim, certain melodies and rhythms carving a groove in our neural pathways. In that respect, Motown remains for me a kind of cloud nine. For the last 26 years now, I’ve relied on Motown to get me through my exercise routine during New York winters. I listen to Motown tunes as I repeatedly walk up and down the stairwell in our 22-story building, typically for 30 to 60 minutes at a time, my footfall tied to the tempos. I stop on the landings every 10 floors or so, sweating and panting, expressly to dance. On occasion, fellow tenants who are navigating the stairwell purely for transportation purposes will spot me doing my stuff and wonder what’s what and whether to call security. But hey, it’s just me, a harmless bald 60-year-old father of two still getting high on Motown.
P.S. – Please see part 4 tomorrow.