Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hitsville USA: the small home with a huge story

Not that we've run out of stuff downtown Detroit to see, visit and scribble about, but today the Kage stretches its boundaries a little bit and ventures out to the New Center area, for a couple of reasons. One, I had a small legal matter to tend to out that way. And two, I've always wanted to see Hitsville USA up close. It's kind of hard to believe that I hadn't at least driven past it. Until today.

Hitsville USA, for those unaware, is the founding site of Motown music, the house where Berry Gordy, Jr., lived and built a recording studio, where people like Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5 recorded some of their biggest hits. I didn't stop in for the official tour, but it's definitely on my to-do list now. (Check out for details.)

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I got to Hitsville, but I guess because nearly everything that counts as a tourist attraction these days is huge, I was picturing something bigger. Instead, I turned on to West Grand Boulevard from the Lodge and drove past a row of old homes that could easily have been mistaken for a block in Wyandotte. And there it was. Hitsville USA. I almost passed it. It's just a house. No elaborate entryway. No marble statues. Not even a parking lot. Aside from the "Hitsville USA" letters stretched across the front, it's just a house, which really is one of the reasons it's so cool. What have you ever made in your home? An omelet? The bed? In this house, Marvin Gaye made "Can I Get A Witness?"