Dancing In the Street – Martha & The Vandellas | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#2); 1964

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

There’s often more than meets the ear in the so-called Motown Sound. During the recording of Dancing In The Street, co-writer Ivy Hunter dragged some old tire chains into the studio to beef up the percussive impact. Marvin Gaye also provided some songwriting muscle, singing on the demo as well. When Martha took exception to the male register of the Dancing demo, Marvin told Martha to go ahead and sing it the way she heard it. Martha changed the melody, conjuring up images of her personal experience dancing in the streets of Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans. At the session – with the third co writer, Mickey Stevenson, manning the controls – Martha tore though Dancing only to find out the tape wasn’t rolling. She obliged by singing it again and it’s this take #2, live with no overdubs, that became Martha & The Vandellas biggest pop hit and signature song.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • William “Mickey” Stevenson

Lyrics Written by:

  • Marvin Gaye
  • William “Mickey” Stevenson
  • Ivy Jo Hunter