Did you and your colleagues at Motown have any idea that your work was so special and would be so revered 50 years later? Amy Szmania COLUMBUS, OHIO
On the day that Berry Gordy started Motown, there were five of us there. He sat us down and said, "We are not going to make black music. We're going to make music for people. We're going to make music for the world." However, on that day and for years after that, I am positive that none of us dared to dream that the music of Motown would become what it has become.
Thank you for helping me and a lot of other vets get through Vietnam. Did you have the soldiers in mind when you wrote some of your songs in the '60s? Mearil Martin CRAWFORDSVILLE, IND.
Oliver Stone, who is my friend, told me how important the music of Motown had been to the troops and how they would be in the ditches and foxholes and bivouacs and their joy was to be dancing and singing Motown music. That is so wonderful to me. It's a great honor to think that those guys were comforted by my music.
What makes a song good? Ari del Rosario, MANILA
What makes a song good is content. I always try to write a song so that if I had written it 50 years earlier, it would have meant something to people; at the time that I'm writing it, it's going to mean something to people; and 50 years from now, it's going to mean something to people.
What songs were easier for you to pen--the joyous and happy ones, or the more sad-and-lonely songs? Wanda Fenwick LEXINGTON PARK, MD.
I'm not a mood songwriter. I don't have to be happy to write a happy song. I write what I'm inspired to write at that time. I'm a life observer and I'm a people watcher, and so I just see things that happen and I write about them.
What are your favorite songs that you've written or recorded? Gerald Horning BAY VILLAGE, OHIO
I know this is going to sound like a cliché, but it's all of them, because I give them all the same effort. They're like my children.
Many of your greatest songs are sad ones. Do you have any good advice for young people with a broken heart? Cheryle Valpredo SHELBY TOWNSHIP, MICH.
Time is my advice. Time is the greatest healer there is. With time, tragedy becomes comedy. Something that you thought was unbearable, something that you thought you would never, ever recover from, 10 years from now you'll laugh about.
I never get tired of hearing them, but do you ever get tired of singing your songs? S. Pelham Justice, NEWARK, N.J.
Well, you know what? I have sung some of those songs thousands of times. Every single, solitary night, they are all brand-new to me, every time. I've never gotten to the point where I say, Oh, I gotta hurry up and sing this because I'm bored with this song. It don't happen like that for me.
Of the various artists you've worked with at Motown, who was your favorite singer? Derrick Ingram, DETROIT
I would have to say Marvin Gaye. He would do things to your songs that you hadn't even thought about somebody doing, vocalwise. He would have to be on top of my list.
Could Motown have supported and saved Marvin Gaye during his low period? Sheila Moore, HOUSTON
If we could have, we would have. Everybody loved Marvin. I found out a lot of things about Marvin and his childhood after he was gone, which was too late. And even today I think about him and I say, God, if I had known that, perhaps I could've helped my brother. I could have done something or said something. We would have done everything we could've to help him.
You have aged well. What do you attribute your longevity to? Eddie White, CHARLESTON, W.VA.
Thank you very much, man. First of all, I recognize that I am blessed. I recognize the source of my longevity is God, and I never, ever try to take his credit for what's going on in my life.