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Where Did Our Love Go?: The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound (Music in American Life) Paperback – October 8, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Music in American Life
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (October 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 025207498X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252074981
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #549,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

George, an editor at Billboard and author of The Michael Jackson Story, recounts the story of Motown Records, founded by Berry Gordy in Detroit in 1959 and now located in Hollywood. In the end, the author concludes, "Motown became just another record company."
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

George offers a concise history of Berry Gordy's Motown Records, emphasizing Gordy's enterprising and social-climbing bents. He deals with Motown's inception in the late 1950s; the creation of its hit-making machinery that propelled such acts as the Supremes, the Temptations, and Marvin Gaye to stardom; and its decline in the 70s. Though much of this material has been presented in other books, George has conducted interviews which provide insights into the label's history. Best are his sections on Berry Gordy's entrepreneurial background and his discussion of the musicians who backed the Motown stars and helped to create the Motown sound. An interesting book, written in a spritely style, this will give general readers an equitable glimpse of the Motown Empire. David Szatmary, Continuing Education, Univ. of Washington, Seattle
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Nelson George is an author/filmmaker who specializes in documenting and celebrating African-American culture. As an author he's written several classic black music histories, including Where Did Our Love Go?: The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound, The Death of Rhythm & Blues and Hip Hop America. He also edited The James Brown Reader, an anthology of articles about the late Godfather of Soul. His current novel, The Plot Against Hip Hop, has a musical theme. He contributed major articles on the films The Help and Pariah to The New York Times Arts & Leisure section in 2011. As a filmmaker George has directed the HBO film Life Support, and has two documentaries debuting in 2012: Brooklyn Boheme on Showtime and The Announcement: Magic Johnson on ESPN. George's web site is www.nelsondgeorge.net.

Customer Reviews

I don't want the gossip, I want the music.
Timothy R. Sullivan
All these years later, `Where Did Our Love Go,' by Nelson George remains the single most essential biography of Motown Records you can own.
D.V. Lindner
Look at the recent "Xscape" album put together on bits and pieces in the vaults.
L. Boki

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By D.V. Lindner on March 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
One of my smartest purchasing decisions was to pick up this work by Nelson George in June 1986 when it was still in hard cover. I've never let it out of my sight since. Time has proven it the precursor of a deluge: `Dreamgirl,' & `Supreme Faith' by Mary Wilson (1986, 1990), `Temptations' by Otis Williams (1988), `To Be Loved,' by Berry Gordy (1994), `Inside My Life' by Smokey Robinson (1989), `Dancing In The Street' by Martha Reeves (1994), and `Between Each Line of Pain and Glory,' by Gladys Knight (1997), among others. I bought them all and I read them all. By far the worst, was the October 1993 work by Diana Ross, `Secrets of a Sparrow,' which was quickly named the worst non-fiction work of the year by People magazine. I couldn't argue with them.
`Where Did Our Love Go,' on the other hand, proves a truth we discovered in the day of the very music it chronicles: no amount of tepid covers surpasses a towering original. Perhaps because Mr. George was not an insider at Motown in the 60s, his history of the company is so objectively good. I've read it many times in over 16 years, and haven't found a date or factual mistake.
And it is balanced. The wonderful music of those glory days in Detroit is given the respect and affection it deserves, as well as the how-it-came-about details. Mr. George acknowledges as most of us do, that Motown's 60s sound is timeless, and is going to outlive Berry Gordy, the artists whose names appeared on the labels, and we baby-boomers who were weaned on it.
Yes, the who-struck-John stories of disappointment are delineated fairly too: the career declines and /or disappointments of folks like Martha Reeves, Gladys Knight, Chuck Jackson, Marvin Gaye and, especially Florence Ballard.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Music Lover on April 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
It has been awhile since I read this book so I have to rely on my memory somewhat of the book's contents. Yes, it is a very interesting book and as a Motown fan, I certainly enjoyed it. Sometimes, though, I wonder about some of Mr. George's comments (and if you are reading this Mr. George I mean no disrespect).

Did he really have to describe the talented Kim Weston as a "dark skined woman with a tendency to put on weight?" Was she really laughed at when she got on stage? To me, Kim Weston was one of Motowns most talented female singers. Couldn't the author have spent a little more space on her vocal talents?

He dismisses the Supremes post-Diana Ross career in a few sentences. Did he ever listen to any of those records? The post-Ross Supremes made some wonderful music which is just now being rediscovered.

He writes off white singer Chris Clark as a "not very gifted singer". From the few songs I have heard, she may not be a virtuoso, but she's not that bad! I know of some rabid Chris Clark fans who would challenge Nelson George on that point.

He spends a lot of time on certain subjects such as Motown's post-70's decline, but seems to spend very little time actually analyzing the music.

A writer, of course, has a right to his opinions and I think, in all fairness, he does a very good job with the book. My biggest complaint is that he seems a little cynical about Motown. I know that not all was happy beneath the wonderful music people heard, but there is still something in his attitude that bothers me a little. Sometimes he seems a little bit mocking in his tone. He wrote a later book about hip hop (a music style I don't care for) and seemed to treat the whole subject with more respect.

I'm probably being a little too analytical about this book.

Anyway, this is still a good book. Put on some Motown music and enjoy.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By W. BUTLER on August 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want a Cliff's Notes (202 page) version of the Motown Story this is a great read. But if a black music authority devotes 5 pages to Marvin Gaye's duets with Tammi Terrell (and 6 more to Flo's demise) one already knows this expensive paperback is not going to provide the Motown "nitty-gritty" I was hoping for.

Which for me - now the nostalgia factor is wearing off - requires seperating highly enjoyable generic Motown hit factory "products" from those iconic songs future generations will rank as all-time 60's classics. The one Motown song certain to be in this latter category is Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine". A note-perfect recording which never stales - and is never mentioned by Mr.George.

In his last chapter he removes Norman Whitfield from the Motown role of honor because - by 1983 - his wah-wah guitar sound had become a cliche! Why inaccurately denigrate this remarkable pioneer, who seamlessly fused human voices and rhythm instruments to create original non-formulaic songs - some up to 14 minutes long? A sophisticated musical form even the great Duke Ellington never fully mastered.

That some creative artists "burn-out" has no bearing on the art they created when in their prime. Isn't it obvious to everyone who's studied the entire Motown oeuvre that Norman was their only composer/producer to emerge as a bone-fide musical genius?

I knew nothing of Norman Whitfield's output when his Temptations and Undisputed Truth albums were first released. But what a discovery! Ten albums which remain unique achievements in pop music history. As enjoyable and relevant today as when first taped and mixed.

How Norman Whitfield "beat the system" to become a great American composer is yet to be disclosed in a book I hope will be written soon. Should "Universal" release ALL his Motown tracks in a 10 CD box this re-evaluation could take only a few weeks.
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