My sociology teacher, Bruce Stevenson, opened class with a presumptive statement.

"I guess you heard the National Anthem yesterday."

Then with a look of pure bliss and reverence on his face he exhaled, "Prrrrrrrrrrrettiest thing I ever heard in my life." Mr. Stevenson knew his music, now. He'd played with a rock n roll band in the 60s called The Corvettes. They recorded a couple of hit singles and opened for Roy Orbison and Jan and Dean. This "pretteist thing he ever heard" was Marvin Gaye's immortal interpretation of the National Anthem at the '83 NBA All-Star Game, shown above.

It is a moment forever emblazoned in my mind. You never expect your teachers to be "hip". In small town Indiana, you don't expect your teacher to be hip to one of the legendary rock and soul singers, musicians, composers, and activists of all time. For that one single moment my world felt much smaller, as if we were all on the same page. Mr. Gaye had that affect on the music world and society his entire life.

You left us too soon, indeed. Happy Birthday Marvin.