Tamla Motown

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Before my approach to life grew earnest

I was all ears for Tamla: the sweet sounds

of soul as far removed from its roots

as I am now from The Motor City.


In the days when I was thirteen

the change a-coming

was an awkwardness with girls

and a biblical plague of spots,

as I tuned in on a cheap transistor

or played the vinyl

I’d bought from Woolworths.


An ocean away those mythical streets

were hard slog and prejudice,

a life I had no sense of beyond teenage angst…


But when the drummer found the beat,

the writers tweaked their slickest chords

to a symphony of heartache

that never lasted longer

than the couple of minutes it called for.


Behind white smiles

and the sharpest moves

hope had soured

long before the music faltered.

After the rip-offs, drugs and sleaze, 

fashions changed,

while cars blazed in the ghetto.





◄ Paying the Price

The Leaving Cert ►


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Harry O'Neill

Sat 25th Oct 2014 16:01

As someone who `came of age` with Crosby and (just about) Sinatra, Tamla was just a sort of `pleasant background` to me.

I sometimes wonder though if those last decades
of (hopeful?) universally listened to `popular` music (ending in the `sourness` of your final stanza) have anything to do with the virtual vanishing of anything like `tunefulness` in modern poetry?-Just a thought.

(there he goes on his hobby horse again):)

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