Although the exact location has been hotly debated for about half a century, this ramshackle house in Mound Bayou, Mississippi might very well be the place where Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ was written.
Singer, producer and songwriter Ed Townsend came up with the melody and lyrics of Gaye’s 1973 bedroom anthem right here in the heart of the Delta. Moreover, he fleshed out its finer details with the help of the local chorus in the high school band room!
Nowadays, Mound Bayou is no longer the thriving, completely self-sufficient African-American community Theodore Roosevelt once called ‘the Jewel of the Delta’ – boasting its own black-owned plantation and cotton gins, the state-of-the-art Taborian Hospital, a zoo and the first Olympic-sized swimming pool for black people in Mississippi.
For better or worse, its current 1,400+ residents live in the same scene that blues legends like Charley Patton, Son Simms, Nellie Travis and Joe Johnson once called home, just like civil rights activists like T.R.M. Howard, Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer.
At about 30 minutes south of Clarksdale and Blues Highway 61, Mound Bayou is always worth a visit - if only to pay your respects to one of the first communities in the South where African Americans were truly free.
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