Last night, I stumbled onto this video of Marvin Gaye singing the vocal track for “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”. I’ve been madly in love with this song since it first hit the radio in the autumn of my freshman year in high school. Now that I’ve heard it this particular way, I’m not sure if I want to hear it orchestrated, harmonized and produced ever again. It is perfect, exactly like this.
Hearing a song this way is like reading a short poem that rips away the protective rib cage of logical thinking and puts its burning hand right onto your exposed and fragile heart. Single singer A cappella is to perfectly written Haiku poetry, as a symphony is to a great novel.
We hear the original pain and the hard truth of the writer’s drunken 3:00 A.M. confession in each carefully chosen word and musical note. If the singer has embraced the zeitgeist of the creation of the piece, they can breathe life into the song. They can take us with them on our own Ghost of Christmas Past journey to the moments in our lives when the words hit home with a vengeance.
This should be my goal in every poem and every story that I write; that whatever comes out of my pen will be better than the silence of the blank page.
I have my work cut out for me.