In the latest Scots Whay Hae! podcast, Ali talks to broadcaster, journalist and TV executive Stuart Cosgrove about his latest book, Detroit ’67: The Year That Changed Soul. It’s a title that doesn’t get close to describing the book’s scope and the topics touched upon, and in the podcast Cosgrove explains how he took his love of the music of Motown as a starting point to examine further themes such as the politics, social history and the culture, and counter-culture, of America at that time.
The talk touches upon the astonishing rise and fall of Detroit and the city’s links with Scotland, Berry Gordy’s business model, the tragedy of Tammi Terrell, Marvin Gaye’s journey from soul-crooner to political activist (making perhaps the greatest album of all-time in the process), and how Motown continued to make records while their home city burned.
All of life is in Detroit ’67; birth, death, sex, marriage, and even taxes. Set out in the form of ‘a year in the life of…’ the drama that unfolds is a mix of Empire, The Godfather, Shakespeare and Sophocles. What you get from the podcast are plenty of added extras as you’ll hear personal anecdotes, stories not featured in the book, and further perspective on ones which are. Think of it as a ‘director’s commentary’, adding extra context to depicted events.
It’s a fascinating listen as it invariably is when the speaker is so totally immersed in their chosen subject. Although Cosgrove is an unabashed polymath, it is American soul music which has been the soundtrack to his life, and his obsession above all else – even his beloved St Johnstone Football Club. For anyone who has an interest in music, politics, social history and/or American culture (which is surely all of you reading this), this is a great opportunity to hear another side to stories you may feel you already know, and some you definitely won’t. It’ll also get you digging out some Motown, if you’re anything like me.
You can read the full Scots Whay Hae! review of Detroit ’67 here, which includes some examples of the Motown sound from 1967. There’s also some great songs to top and tail this podcast. If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes or by RSS. You can also download it by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud below:
Or you can watch on YouTube:
As you’ll hear at the end, Stuart is a man much in demand and we thank him for taking time out to talk to Scots Whay Hae! I’m sure you’ll agree it was well worth it.