October 30 – A Solo Classic from Marvin

Marvin Gaye – Single:  I Heard it Through the Grapevine

This Motown classic was written in 1966 by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, and originally recorded by Gladys Knight & the Pips in 1967 when it reached #2.  The Miracles recorded a version in 1968, as did Marvin Gaye, and CCR did a sprawling rendition for their 1970 album Cosmo’s Factory.  As with Stevie Wonder’s hit For Once in My Life a couple of weeks back, Berry Gordy originally vetoed Grapevine as a single before relenting in October of ’68.  It was released this day 50 years ago, and was a #1 smash in the US and UK.


The song went on to become part of the American music fabric, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic, and significant” value.  It also had a resurgence in popularity in the 1980’s after it was included in the Big Chill movie soundtrack (1983) and in a California Raisins advertisement in 1986 (this version mirrored Gaye’s, but featured Buddy Miles as the vocalist – something I wasn’t aware of until reading up on the song).  In the mid-1980’s Gaye’s version seemed almost as ubiquitous as anything by Michael Jackson or Madonna.  It’s one of those timeless tunes that could see another resurgence at any point in the future.

Side A:  I Heard it Through the Grapevine

Side B:  You’re What’s Happening (in the World Today)



October 15 – Stevie Wonder Growin’ Up

Stevie Wonder – Single:  For Once in My Life

When this track was released 50 years ago today, “Little Stevie Wonder” had turned 18 and his music was becoming more interesting.  He was not the first artist to record this Ron Miller and Orlando Murden song; Barbara McNair, Jean DuShon, The Four Tops, Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, and the Temptations also took a stab at it.


Berry Gordy passed on Wonder’s version when it was recorded in 1967, but relented in 1968 with great results:  The song reached #2 on both the Billboard Pop Singles chart and the Billboard R&B Singles chart.  It was held out of the #1 spot on both charts by another Motown track originally vetoed by Gordy which I’ll feature soon.

Side A:  For Once in My Life

Side B:  Angie Girl