The Songs

Discover the stories behind the Classic songs from the show. Click on the spotify link to listen to your favorites!

  • Stevie Wonder


    Stevie Wonder

    "Uptight (Everything's Alright)"

    First released in 1965 by Motown Records.

    “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” marks the beginning of Stevie Wonder’s success with the charts, as the hit reached #3 on Billboard’s Pop, and stayed 5 weeks on Billboards R&B. Wonder co-wrote the song with Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby.

  • Four Tops


    Four Tops

    "Reach Out I'll Be There"

    First released in 1966 by Motown Records.

    Written by Mowtown’s most successful songwriting team, Holland–Dozier–Holland, this hit topped US, US R&B, and UK Billboard charts. It’s considered to be The Four Top’s signature song, and one of Motown’s most popular hits.

  • Marvin Gaye- Heard It Through the Grapevine


    Marvin Gaye

    "I Heard it Through the Grapevine"

    First released in 1966 by Motown Records.

    The song was written in 1967 by Norman Whitfield and Norman Strong, and although it has been recorded by many artists, it was Marvin Gaye’s rendition that made the song a lasting success. Gaye’s single is Motown’s biggest success with over 2.5 million copies sold.

  • Jimmy Ruffin- What Becomes of The Broken Hearted


    Jimmy Ruffin

    "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?"

    First released in 1966 by Motown Records.

    Song writers Jimmy Dean, Paul Riser, and William Weatherspoon originally intended for the Detroit Spinners to record “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.” However, when the record label heard Jimmy Ruffin’s rendition, there was no turning back, and the song charted at #7 in the US, #10 in the UK.

  • The Supremes


    The Supremes

    "You Keep Me Hangin' On"

    First released in 1966 by Motown Records.

    This song was written by Holland–Dozier–Holland specifically for The Supremes, and became the group’s 8th US #1 hit. Although it never won a Grammy, this song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

  • songs-2


    Eddie Floyd

    "Knock On Wood"

    First released in 1966 by Stax.

    In 1966, Floyd recorded a song intended for Otis Redding. Jerry Wexler later convinced Stax president Jim Stewart to release Floyd’s version. “Knock On Wood” launched Floyd’s solo career, and has been covered by over a hundred different artists from David Bowie to Amii Stewart.

  • song-3


    Ann Peebles

    "I Take What I Want"

    First released in 1965 by Stax.

    “I Take What I Want” was written by Isaac Hayes, Teenie Hodges, David Porter and was first released by Sam & Dave in 1965, but was covered and released again by Ann Peebles in 1972.

  • Otis Redding Mr Pitiful


    Otis Redding

    "Mr Pitiful"

    First released in 1965 by Stax.

    Otis Redding wrote the song as a response to a statement made by radio DJ Moohan Williams, when he nicknamed Redding ‘Mr Pitiful’, for sounding pitiful when singing ballads. He then recorded the song with guitarist Steve Cropper in December 1964 at the Stax studios.

  • pitful


    Otis Redding

    "I Can't Turn You Loose"

    First released in 1965 by Atco.

    This song about refusing to let a loved one go was written by Redding and Steve Cropper and has since been covered by Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Marvin Gaye. The song was later used by The Blues Brothers as their entrance theme music.

  • aretha


    Aretha Franklin


    First released in 1968 by Atlantic.

    Often referred to as a feminist anthem, “Think” became Aretha Franklin’s seventh top 10 hit in the US. Written with Ted White who was her husband and manager, Aretha sings about freedom and respect for women.

  • midnight


    Wilson Pickett

    "I'm A Midnight Mover"

    First released in 1968 by Rhino.

    The impact of Pickett’s songwriting and recording led to his 1991 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “I’m A Midnight Mover” was co-written between Picket and Bobby Womack peaking at 12 in the billboard charts.

  • persuaders


    The Persuaders

    "It's A Thin Line Between Love & Hate"

    First released in 1971 by Atco.

    The song was written and produced by the Poindexter brothers, Robert and Richard, and was also co-written by Jackie Members. This was the group’s biggest hit song, spending two weeks atop the Billboard R&B chart in late 1971. It also reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was a certified Gold Record by the RIAA.

  • Aretha Save Me


    Aretha Franklin

    "Save Me"

    First released in 1967 by Atlantic.

    Aretha was 24 years old when Jerry Wexler signed her away from Capitol Records and brought her to Atlantic, where he gave her a great deal of creative freedom and a talented engineer in Tom Dowd. This song was a rewrite of the 1966 track “Help Me” by the R&B singer Ray Sharpe and was recorderd at Atlantic Studios in 1967.

  • Rolling Stones I can't get no satisfaction


    The Rolling Stones

    "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"

    First released in 1965 by London Records.

    “Satisfaction” was a hit, giving the Stones their first number one in the US. In the UK, the song initially played only on pirate radio stations because its lyrics were considered too sexually suggestive. In Britain, the single was released in August 1965 amd became the Rolling Stones’ fourth number one in the UK.

  • Temptations Papa Was A Rolling Stone


    The Temptations

    "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone"

    First released in 1971 by Gordy.

    “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” is a psychedelic soul song, initially written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong as a single for Motown act The Undisputed Truth in 1971. Whitfield also had The Temptations record it with much greater success, becoming a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and winning three Grammy Awards in 1973.

  • James Brown Night Train


    James Brown

    "Night Train"

    First released in 1951 by United.

    Several different sets of lyrics have been set to the tune of “Night Train”. The earliest, written in 1952, are credited to Lewis P. Simpkins, the co-owner of United Records, and guitarist Oscar Washington. James Brown later recorded “Night Train” with his band in 1961, replacing the original lyrics of the song with a shouted list of cities on his East Coast tour.

  • Bonny Rice

    Mack Rice

    "Mustang Sally"

    First released in 1965 by Atlantic.

    Born Bonny Rice, Sir Mack Rice was initially a member of vocal group The Falcons from 1957 to 1963. In 1965 he wrote and released Mustang Sally, which became his greatest hit as a solo performer. The song is about a girl who lives a wild life in her brand new Mustang car. Rice called the early version “Mustang Mama”, but changed the title after Aretha Franklin suggested “Mustang Sally”. Not available on Spotify.

  • Otis Redding Try a Little Tenderness


    Otis Redding

    "Try A Little Tenderness"

    First released in 1932 by Ray Noble Orchestra.

    The song has been covered numerous times, but was first written by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly and Harry M. Woods, and recorded in 1932. Redding’s recording features a slow soulful opening that eventually builds into a frenetic R&B conclusion.

  • the-supremes-and-the-four-tops-river-deep-mountain-high-tamla-motown-3


    The Supremes, The Four Tops

    "River Deep, Mountain High"

    Originally a 1966 single by Ike & Tina Turner, in 1970, the post-Diana Ross Supremes and The Four Tops released the most successful cover version to date. Produced by Ashford and Simpson, the single was one of several recordings that paired the two Motown groups. Their cover peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971, (and #11 on the UK Singles Chart) making it the highest-charting version of the song in the United States.

  • roy-head


    Roy Head & The Traits

    "Treat Her Right"

    Written by Roy Head and Gene Kurtz, it was recorded by Head and The Traits and released on the Back Beat label in 1965. The song reached number two in the United States on both the Billboard pop and R&B charts.[1] The Beatles’ “Yesterday” kept “Treat Her Right” from the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

  • land1000dances


    Wilson Pickett

    "Land of 1000 Dances"

    The song’s best-known version was Wilson Pickett’s 1966 recording on his album, which became an R&B #1 and his biggest ever pop hit.