The way you do the things you do

images-12Henry Ford gets credit for inventing the mass-produced automobile, but in a way, he is also partly responsible for Detroit’s second-most important product:  Motown.

A young man named Berry Gordy emerged from the Army in 1953 at age 24 and began working at a Ford assembly plant, while putting in time at a jazz record store on the side. The monotony of the job gave him the freedom for his mind to wander and think about his passion:  Music.  Rhythm and blues, mostly.  And he thought about how the way a car was made — empty shell moving along the assembly line, brakes fastened on, motor hooked up, upholstery installed, finishing touches added  — could be a template for how a song might be made.

Five years later, he founded a record label and publishing company, named after the city he lived in and loved:  The Motor City.  Motor Town.  MoTown.  Additional subsidiary labels and corporations sprang up — Tamla, Jobete — but that was just window dressing. The public will always know and define the wondrous, smooth, sexy, soulful music that came from there as Motown.

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