Songcraft: Spotlight on Songwriters Podcast

Mickey Stevenson

Ep. 113 - William "Mickey" Stevenson

"Dancing in the Street" - A Motown Legend


Scott and Paul talk about Pearl Snap Studios, their new rock star Patreon subscriber, Motown's 60th anniversary, and that lost Marvin Gaye album.

PART TWO - 12:43 mark

Motown A&R man and legendary songwriter Mickey Stevenson opens up about his life, career, and songwriting philosophy.

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Scott heads over to Mickey’s house to get the lowdown on why he almost stormed out of his first meeting with Berry Gordy; how he assembled Motown’s legendary Funk Brothers; the trick he used to convince Marvin Gaye to ditch jazz and become an R&B singer; why “Dancing in the Street” was a message song -- but not the message many people think; the pep talk he would give to Motown’s artists and songwriters; the reason he’d have to kick a young Stevie Wonder out of the studio; why he’s a champion of songwriting collaborations over writing solo; and the real reason he departed Motown.

William “Mickey” Stevenson was hired as Motown Records’ first A&R Director, signing a variety of artists to the label including The Four Tops and Stevie Wonder. He assembled the legendary Motown studio band known as the Funk Brothers and produced such Motown classics as “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” and “Uptight (Everything is Alright).”

As a songwriter, Stevenson partnered with Marvin Gaye to write The Marvelettes' hit “Beechwood 4-5789,” as well as Gaye’s own hit recordings of “Stubborn Kind of Fellow,” “Hitch Hike,” and “Pride and Joy.” Mickey is perhaps best known as the co-writer of “Dancing in the Street,” a massive hit for his former assistant, Martha Reeves, that was written with Gaye and Ivy Jo Hunter. The song was inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry and the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Additional hits from the pen of Mickey Stevenson include “Devil with a Blue Dress On” for Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, “Ask the Lonely” for The Four Tops, “Nothing’s Too Good for My Baby” for Stevie Wonder, “It Take Two” for Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston, and “It Should Have Been Me” for Gladys Knight and the Pips.

The long list of artists who’ve recorded Mickey’s songs includes Diana Ross, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Little Richard, The Jackson 5, The Everly Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Tina Turner, Dusty Springfield, The Kinks, Van Halen, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones, and many others.

Songcraft's Mickey Stevenson Playlist: Spotify users can select the song you'd like to hear below, or simply start the player and enjoy a sampling of more than four hours of Chris's songs. If you don't have a Spotify account, follow the prompts to sign up for free. Click this link to take you directly to the playlist in the Spotify web player.