In August I had the pleasure of seeing a gospel trio called Como Mamas. They were pretty great, but I was really excited to see the folks who were to take the stage after them: Eddie and Brian Holland of Motown fame. Along with their partner Lamont Dozier, they wrote more soul classics than anyone except perhaps Smokey Robinson. Where Did Our Love Go, Baby Love, I Hear a Symphony, Baby I Need Your Loving, How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You)… it’s a long list. The Holland’s recounted the genesis of these songs and Eddie sang excerpts, accompanied by a pianist.
Two highlights: Brian Holland told a story about running into Burt Bacharach in an iHop in L.A., where Bacharach told him I Hear a Symphony was one the greatest pop songs ever. Can you imagine what that must have felt like? One of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century telling you that you wrote one of the greatest songs ever? In an iHop no less?
The other highlight was Eddie Holland’s answer to the moderator’s first question, “What was your musical background?” Eddie said, “Did you hear that group [the Como Mammas] that was just on? That was it. Sunday. Saturday. During the week. All the time. That’s where the soul comes from. Right there, man. That music.”
But soul music didn’t just get its soul from gospel, it also got a lot of its style. That’s clear from the following one-minute outtake from A Life’s Work, wherein Robert Darden of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project shares an anecdote. It involves The Temptations, The Mighty Clouds of Joy and how the hit song, “Do You Love Me?” became a Contours song. Bob tells it in his highly entertaining, frenetic, and inimitable way. Enjoy.