In March of 2011, I had the good fortune of being taken to the Motown Museum by two friends and loyal Musers J.L. and J.C. No photographs were allowed inside the museum but the photo of me standing outside is relevant to the story.
Eventually we got to the garage that was converted into the legendary recording studio – the hallowed ground trod by, well, everybody. Stevie. Marvin. The Supremes, Temptations, Miracles and Four Tops. My imagination racing, I could barely construct a coherent thought on the one hand and constrain myself from behaving like a 5-year old at Christmas on the other.
The docent snapped me out of my mania by asking me to take off my overcoat. That seemed like an odd request especially since he didn’t ask anybody else in our tour group to do so. He asked me to turn around and hang it on the hook on the wall behind me. He then directed me to stand directly underneath one of three mics hanging from the ceiling. Again, that seemed odd but I complied since I could still barely think straight and needed help managing basic motor skills.
The docent then asked me to sing. At that moment, in that place, only one song could come out of my mouth. “I got sunshine, on a cloudy day.” I totally nailed it, of course. “And when it’s cold outside” – he stopped me and told me to turn around and look at a picture behind me.
There was David Ruffin, the lead singer on My Girl, under THAT mic. And behind him on THAT hook on THAT wall was a black overcoat exactly like mine! I STOOD IN THE SAME SPOT AS DAVID RUFFIN! I SANG INTO THE SAME MIC AS DAVID RUFFIN! WITH MY COAT LIKE DAVID RUFFIN’S HANGING IN THE SAME SPOT AS DAVID RUFFIN’S!
J.L. and J.C. will verify that I gasped and my knees literally buckled.
Best musical moment ever.
And that’s my story of singing at Motown.
P.S. One of the things I miss about Idol is picking what songs the Idolists should sing on Motown night. And a peak Idol memory is of Adam Lambert getting a standing ovation from Smokey Robinson for singing Tracks of My Tears, thankfully preserved on YouTube. https://youtu.be/jjbP2F4lGUc
 And in my still semi-hallucinatory state, I was waiting for Berry Gordy to come out of the booth and sign me to a record deal on the spot.
Ray, thanks so much for sharing this special story. What an extraordinary experience! Can’t think of anyone it would be more appropriate for! Enjoyed listening again to Adam Lambert’s Idol performance of “Tracks of My Tears”.
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If I haven’t told you lately, you are such a good writer! Oh, and I can totally vouch for the veracity of this musing!