Song Of The Day 6/22/2014: Marvin Gaye - "(I'm Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over"


Black Music Month/Motown Week: The first time I heard this song was on a compilation put together by the RZA. It was a rather elongated treatment at the hands of David Porter, the one-time songwriting partner of Isaac Hayes down in Memphis at Stax Records. Porter's version was much like the solo work of his former associate in that it includes explanatory dialogue, drastically re-organizes all known prior versions of the song, and goes on for about six weeks. It's a compelling recording. I just hope you've set aside some time for it, and a discussion group afterwards.

"(I'm Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over" was written in the 1930's by Herbert Magidson, who wrote the sophisticated dance classic "The Continental," and Allie Wrubel. It became a popular second-tier jazz and pop cover tackled by just about anyone with a union card, including Sarah Vaughan, Patti Page, Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, José Feliciano, and The 1910 Fruitgum Company (citation needed). But Marvin Gaye's version from 1961 is my favorite interpretation, and one of my favorite songs by him period. This was during the period when Gaye cut it as a cabaret or pop singer before being commandeered by outside forces of another realm. You'll note the piano introduction offering a slight tribute to the intro of a very famous Thelonious Monk composition. From there Gaye just calmly lays it out. The masquerade's over, toots. Maybe sad for you, but I was tired of holidng that mask on a stick up all night. That could be taken in several ways. Well, welcome to Motown Week.


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