Wednesday When It Was Music ~ “Ask The Lonely” ~ Four Tops, The Andantes, The Funk Brothers, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

To me this was the prettiest song that ever came out of “Motown”.

It is also the song that always brings me to tears for longing for the Detroit that was once upon a time. Because for my generation these artists who wrote and performed the soundtracks of our youths regardless of nationality or skin color became heroes to us.

The hell that all broke loose from it in 67′ was from the previous ignorant generations doings. For the most of us boomers who sang, danced and lived these songs on the streets of the neighborhoods we grew up in, we simply saw and heard their true talent.

The day Levi Stubbs died, I cried and I can’t ever remember doing that for any other Motown artist. To me he was the epitome of the Soul that defined what came out of Hitsville & Studio A on the Blvd. Paul Williams had that reign with the Temps.

But for me the National Anthem of Motown will always be “Baby I Need Your Loving” because it was ours, the Motor City’s. That is where most of us were born and raised and no matter where we ended up in life living whether still in the city’s limits or just outside of it, we’ll always be Detroiters. And we’ll say it with pride.

“Ask The Lonely” was the Tops third released single in 63′ and second consecutive hit that at that point the record company had.

It was written by Funk Brothers Ivy Jo Hunter and William “Mickey” Stevenson.

On this extended version you get to hear all almost individually being highlighted with that of the singers and all of the instrumentation. They can talk about the Phil Spector sound all they want. What we had here in Detroit was pure musical magic and no record company had the musicians in the way of The Funk Brothers. They put together a sound that would become recognizable throughout the world.

The Brits ate it up and were doing Motown songs as they came to the States during the British Invasion. Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow and Louvain Demps better known as The Andantes could have made it as a main group alone, but they would be kept as background singers featured on over 90% of all the Motown songs and hits.

Nobody had the genius of bass player James Jamerson who could have played the riffs in his sleep. Bass, Drums, Horns, Piano, Guitar, Beat and arrangements. That is what accompanied the voices. And the Detroit Symphony was also a big part of the muse used throughout the Motown Sound.

Certain songs come with certain memories for everyone. This one was no exception. This one had an even more powerful ones for me.

For the times, the place I was at, family, friends and a singer who lead this group who I had the chance to see being brought out on stage without one dry eye in the place in 2005. Sadly it was just with-in weeks of Obie’s passing so the tears were for both sadness and joy. Happy because we felt blessed to have been able to shout out I love you to Levi for all that he had given us throughout our lives.

The talent of all of them who brought us such happiness with all of the songs that they left with us. For only they leave us, what they made in that studio and put down on that vinyl is ours until the end of time. And that can never die.

So I share with you my favorite male Motown group and a song that was sung with such conviction that the lead singer could make you cry. The words and sound that powerful….

“When It Was Music”.



Levi Stubbs – lead vocals
Obie Benson – vocals
Lawrence Payton – vocals
Duke Farkir – vocals
The Andantes (Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow and Louvain Demps) – background vocals
The Funk Brothers – music
Detroit Symphony – strings






Filed under Entertainment, MUSIC

2 responses to “Wednesday When It Was Music ~ “Ask The Lonely” ~ Four Tops, The Andantes, The Funk Brothers, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

  1. Louvain Demps

    After many bygone years in the studio with The Four Tops, my eyes fill with tears, knowing i can no longer stand beside them, sing, laugh, and be loving friends sharing beautiful music….I lived for the moments to sing with them…Somehow, i now hear them more deeply than before, loving the times the sessions and the love they shone us, blessing us with each hit record we recorded with them… no other artist has…Just before i left Motown, Lawrence gave me a little talk, before we parted he said. “Never stop singing Louvain”

  2. My God what an honor it is to have your comment on my blog Miss Louvain.

    You guys were the cream of the crop, the songs would have never been the same without The Andantes. Such an instrumental part of the sound of Motown. I have highlighted most of my Motown Monday blogs with the credits of you girls. All of you were a power house of a group all on your own. Of course I have a blog on, Like a Nightmare.

    Of course I know it was The Andantes doing the complete background vocals on My Baby Loves Me on Martha (and this one, not The Vandella’s). And we know it goes on and on. But there is one more particular song for me that was heart break, notably for Paul Williams. Last One Out Is Brokenhearted by The Temptations, left in the vault.

    Motown Monday ~ “Last One Out Is Brokenhearted” ~ The Temptations

    If you’ve seen the catalog of these Motown blogs, I don’t speak all the highly of Berry, for he buried some very powerful artists and groups talents. Songs if released when they were recorded that would have went to number one. I’ve never comprehended why he would leave some of the best behind.

    All I can do is Thank You from the bottom of my heart. I was a kid growing up on the east side of Detroit (Conners/Harper) in the 60’s. And we couldn’t wait for the next release from all the groups that came out of the Blvd. Lol and I was born at 14th and that Blvd just blocks from Motown in 57′. But I know you guys backed other artists on other labels that came out of our city as well.

    What a blessing for you to have been a part of all, to sing with all these artists, to be main artists and the fixtures that would shine the brightest. And Yes,

    “Never Stop Singing”.

    Music is what has made life bearable for me and your significance is worth is weight in gold. May God always Bess You as you have always been a blessing to all of us.

    “Detroit Music Forever”

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