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How Detroit Assembly Lines Changed Music Forever

Photo credit: Yale Joel - Getty Images
Photo credit: Yale Joel – Getty Images

From Road & Track

All music is a product of time and place. Often, this happens in subtle ways—composers and songwriters absorb the sounds, moods, and cultures of their environment, sometimes without even realizing it. Other times, the influence is a bit more explicit.

Berry Gordy Jr. began working at a Lincoln-Mercury plant in 1955. Gordy was an aspiring songwriter at the time, but with a young family to support, he did what so many musicians have to do, and took a day job. “Those slow-moving car frames were the loveliest sight I’d ever seen,” he wrote in his autobiography To Be Loved. “There was a pleasing simplicity to how everyone did the same thing over and over again.”

Photo credit: Donaldson Collection - Getty Images
Photo credit: Donaldson Collection – Getty Images

The work paid reasonably well—$86.40 a week—and by Gordy’s account, was fairly easy. “I learned it

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