Strong was powerful

I've been so busy that I haven't noted here the passing of R&B songwriter extraordinaire Barrett Strong last weekend. He was 81 years old and lived his last years in La Jolla.

He was a singer, best known for his early hit "Money (That's What I Want)." But more importantly, he and his partner Norman Whitfield wrote some of the greatest soul songs ever, for others to record. If your name was on "I Heard It Throught the Grapevine" and "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)," you could stop right there. But there were plenty more, including "War," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," and "Smiling Faces Sometimes."

When a song becomes a classic like those did, eventually people tend to take it for granted. But try to remember the first time you heard "Money," for example. Even if it was when the Beatles sang it. Dang, that was something.

There was an edge to these songs. There was no "moon" and "June." The stories never had a happy ending. Sometimes the whole thing was downright bleak. But the world sang and danced along anyway. Working out some of the pain, I guess.

Take care, Mr. Strong. You done mighty good. I hope you got the money, but something tells me that wasn't all you wanted.


  1. Weird. I was just on a Norman Whitfield binge last night, looking for old interviews and/or documentaries. I love the stuff that he did with Motown and after, but he seemed to be quite the mysterious dude. A lot of musicians and producers usually are though.

    I was not that aware of Mr Strong’s work, but of course I had heard his name before. It is kind of odd that the two biggest names from Motown are still alive, while so many others either died young and/or have already passed. I will check his bio out later as I am always interested in the Motown story.


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