Ready for a Brand New Beat
How "Dancing in the Street" Became the Anthem for a Changing America
By Mark Kurlansky
Textbook - General
Can a song change a nation? In 1964, Marvin Gaye, record producer William "Mickey" Stevenson, and Motown songwriter Ivy Jo Hunter wrote "Dancing in the Street." The song was recorded at Motown's Hitville USA Studio by Martha and the Vandellas, with lead singer Martha Reeves arranging her own vocals. Released on July 31, the song was supposed to be an upbeat dance recording---a precursor to disco, and a song about the joyousness of dance. But events overtook it, and the song became one of the icons of American pop culture. Told by the writer who is legendary for finding the big story in unlikely places, Ready for a Brand New Beat chronicles that extraordinary summer of 1964 and showcases the momentous role that a simple song about dancing played in history.