Wherever the Road Leads


The Funk Brothers

I read a blog – myoldrv.com – written by a guy – Andy –  who lives a solitary life as a Gate Guard in the south Texas (scrub brush) oil patch. His blog is 50% RV stories and 50% his view of the world. He ends each of his blog pieces with a Youtube video of various artists, mostly Texas-style, that he likes. This week’s video was Motown oriented and led me to what follows.

However I’d like to start by quoting directly how he started his most recent entry; I couldn’t have said it better:

“It is so very tempting to talk about the news of the last seven days starting with Charlottesville but I will not. The train to Crazytown has left the station and either you got on board or you didn’t. Those of us that refused to get on board can read the handwriting on the wall, easily, without the “help” of social media or the main stream news. Plan accordingly.”

His video this week was the one above featuring Joan Osborne and her rendition, along with the Funk Brothers, of “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?”  A great cover. What’s interesting about the above video is that you get an idea of everything involved in creating a particular sound.

Who are the Funk Brothers, I wondered? The Funk Brothers were the backing band, the studio musicians who played on a great many of Motown’s most-heard songs from the sixties. That would be a lot of tunes, right… twenty… thirty? Here’s the list; it blew me away.


Selected list of hit songs on which the Funk Brothers played:

(Tamla) Motown

“Please Mr. Postman” – The Marvelettes

“Fingertips Pt. 2” – Stevie Wonder

“The Girl’s Alright With Me” – The Temptations

“My Guy” – Mary Wells

“Where Did Our Love Go” – The Supremes

“Baby I Need Your Lovin'” – The Four Tops

“Baby Love” – The Supremes

“Come See About Me” – The Supremes

“My Girl” – The Temptations

“Stop! In the Name of Love” – The Supremes

“Back in My Arms Again” – The Supremes

“I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” – The Four Tops

“I Hear a Symphony” – The Supremes

“You Can’t Hurry Love” – The Supremes

“Reach Out I’ll Be There” – The Four Tops

“You Keep Me Hangin’ On” – The Supremes

“The Happening” – The Supremes

“Love Child” – Diana Ross and the Supremes

“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” – Marvin Gaye

“I Can’t Get Next to You” – The Temptations

“Someday We’ll Be Together” – Diana Ross and the Supremes

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – Diana Ross

“The Tears of a Clown” – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

“Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” – The Temptations

“Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” – The Temptations

“Let’s Get It On” – Marvin Gaye

“Just a Little Misunderstanding” – The Contours

“Shop Around” – The Miracles

“Shotgun” – Junior Walker & the All Stars

“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” – Marvin Gaye

“The One Who Really Loves You” – Mary Wells

“The Way You Do the Things You Do” – The Temptations

“Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

“(I’m a) Road Runner” – Junior Walker & the All Stars

“Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” – The Temptations

“I Wish It Would Rain” – The Temptations

“Reflections” – Diana Ross & the Supremes

“(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave” – Martha & the Vandellas

“Hitch Hike” – Marvin Gaye

“What’s So Good About Goodbye” – The Miracles

“I Was Made to Love Her” – Stevie Wonder

“It’s the Same Old Song” – The Four Tops

“You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” – The Miracles

“Standing in the Shadows of Love” – The Four Tops

“If I Were Your Woman” – Gladys Knight and the Pips

“Going to a Go-Go” – The Miracles

“Heaven Must Have Sent You” – The Elgins

“Dancing in the Street” – Martha & the Vandellas

“Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” – Marvin Gaye

“Cloud Nine” – The Temptations

“What’s Goin’ On” – Marvin Gaye

“Do You Love Me” – The Contours

“Get Ready” – The Temptations

“Function at the Junction” – Shorty Long

“My World Is Empty Without You” – The Supremes

“The Tracks of My Tears” – The Miracles

“Can I Get a Witness” – Marvin Gaye

“Nowhere to Run” – Martha & the Vandellas

“Here Comes the Judge” – Shorty Long

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” – Stevie Wonder

“Beachwood 4-5789” – The Marvelettes

“Bernadette” – The Four Tops

“Two Lovers” – Mary Wells

“What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” – Jimmy Ruffin

“My Cherie Amour” – Stevie Wonder

“I Second That Emotion” – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

“(I Know) I’m Losing You” – The Temptations

“First I Look at the Purse” – The Contours

“Ooo Baby Baby” – The Miracles

“25 Miles” – Edwin Starr

“I’ll Be Doggone” – Marvin Gaye

“Pride and Joy” – Marvin Gaye

“Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” – The Temptations

“It Takes Two” – Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston

“This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)” – The Isley Brothers

“Uptight” – Stevie Wonder

“Devil with a Blue Dress On” – Shorty Long

“Jimmy Mack” – Martha & the Vandellas

“Since I Lost My Baby” – The Temptations

“War” – Edwin Starr

“Stubborn Kind of Fellow” – Marvin Gaye

“Don’t Mess with Bill” – The Marvelettes

“You Beat Me to the Punch” – Mary Wells

“Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over)” – The Four Tops

“Walk Away Renee” – The Four Tops

“Mickey’s Monkey” – The Miracles

“Ain’t That Peculiar” – Marvin Gaye

“Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day” – Stevie Wonder

Other labels:

“Cool Jerk” – The Capitols (Atlantic)

“Whispers (Gettin’ Louder)” – Jackie Wilson (Brunswick)

“(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” – Jackie Wilson (Brunswick)

“Band of Gold” – Freda Payne (Invictus)

“Crumbs off the Table” – Glass House (Invictus)

“Give Me Just a Little More Time” – Chairmen of the Board (Invictus)

“Someone’s Been Sleeping in My Bed” – 100 Proof (Aged in Soul) (Hot Wax)

“Boom Boom” – John Lee Hooker (Vee-Jay)


You still with me? That’s ninety-six songs. And that’s just through 1973 when Barry Gordy moved Motown out to the Left Coast. I’ll bet as you scrolled through the list, the chorus or the opening line of each song went through your mind!

I know all those songs as well, but it never dawned on me that Motown Records had that many hits or was so much of an influence on us Baby Boomers.

Here’s one of my favorites:


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