Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You Beat Me To The Punch

I fell in love with the music of Motown this summer, thanks to a class on the history of the record company taught by Professor Charles Sykes. After six weeks of listening (and awkwardly dancing in private) to the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, the Temptations, and  other Motown artists, I understand what it means for older generations to shake their head and say music isn’t the same anymore.

In the age of auto tunes, it’s easy to forget that good music should tell a story. Motown's founder Berry Gordy, who started as a songwriter, attributed their success to a firm belief in how a song should be structured. And while listening to this in class, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the fiction writer:

Narrative Elements in the Motown Sound

Context: when, where, under what circumstance
Thesis: theme—conflict
Antithesis: conflicting ideas—antagonist
Synthesis: resolution, clarification
Moral: proverb, something to live by
Figurative language: simile, metaphor, figurative language

Thanks to my fellow Indiana Review editor DK, who reminded me in her post earlier this week that every experience informs our fiction—what we write and the way we write. So although good music tells a story, a good story gives you the feeling of experiencing music.

This is for you DK

Mary Wells – You Beat Me to the Punch (Written and produced by Smokey Robinson and Ronald "Ronnie" White)

That day, I first saw you passing by
I wanted to know your name but I was much too shy

But I was looking at you so hard
Until you must have had a hunch
So you came up to me and asked me my name

You beat me to the punch that time
You beat me to the punch
You beat me to the punch
After I hadn't known you for it seems like a long, long time
I wanted, wanted to ask you, would you please, please be mine

Whenever you came around, my heart would pound
So you must have had a hunch
So you came up to me and asked me to be yours

You beat me to the punch one more time
You beat me to the punch
You beat me to the punch, yeah

Since I love you, I thought you would be true
And love me tender
So I let my heart surrender
To you, yes, I did

But I found out beyond a doubt one day, boy, you were a playboy
Who would go away and leave me blue

So I ain't gonna wait around for you to put me down
This time I'm gonna play my hunch
And walk away this very day

And beat you to the punch this time
And beat you to the punch this time
I'll beat you to the punch, yes, I will
And let you know, know, how it feels

P.S. If you can’t tell by the titles of my blog post, this will definitely be a Motown themed year.

P.S.S Deadline for the Indiana Review Fiction Prize is October 15. Please submit. You know you want to.


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