This is a tribute to singers Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson, who both died in 1984. Gaye was a Motown star known for love songs like "Let's Get It On" and "Sexual Healing." Wilson was an R&B singer known for his stirring performances and hits like "Lonely Teardrops." Wilson was 49 when he died; Gaye was 44. Both are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
This song was conceived as a soul version of "Rock And Roll Heaven," the 1974 Righteous Brothers hit where they picture fallen stars like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin forming a band in heaven. In the Commodores song, Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson are on heaven's nightshift, playing some sweet sounds.
The songwriter Franne Golde was brought in to help with the lyrics. She had recently seen the 1982 movie Night Shift (starring Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton; directed by Ron Howard), which gave her the idea for the title.
This is the Commodores' only hit since Lionel Richie left the band in 1982. J.D. Nicholas, a former backup singer for Diana Ross, was brought in to replace Richie.
Musically, this song started with a groove their drummer Walter "Clyde" Orange came up with. He sang lead on the track, with J.D. Nicholas taking the second verse.
Along with Franne Golde and Walter Orange, this song was written by Dennis Lambert, who produced it. Lambert's associate Peter Wolf (not the J. Geils frontman) did the arrangement.
The band got a new recording contract as a result of this song, but they were never able to follow it up with another hit.
Won the 1985 Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
When this song was performed on Motown Returns to the Apollo in the early '80s, more verses were added to honor other Motown legends who had passed on.
Suggestion credit: Jenny - Sussex, NJ
On March 16, 1985, "Nightshift" went to #1 on the R&B chart, where it stayed for four weeks. The song it replaced, "Missing You" by Diana Ross, was also a tribute to Marvin Gaye. That one was written by former Commodore Lionel Richie.
Allan from CaliforniaI had just started a new job in June and received a phone call one morning that a former co-worker from my last job lost his battle with sickle cell anemia. It didn’t come as a total surprise but I was too overwhelmed with work that day to think about it.
That evening as I was driving home I thought of Paul D. Belcher when this song came on. The lyrics “you found another home, I know you are not alone” stayed with me.
Chi Girl from NigeriaHow come they never had other hits? That would be because they never released songs of this class ever again. A particular music video of their's annoys me so much. They were at the beach being silly.
David from Honolulu, HiI have a feeling the "nightshift" The Commodores are singing about is in reference to the afterlife. A great song & I wish this group had more than one major hit after Lionel Richie's departure in 1982. The Commodores had one more follow-up single to "Nightshift" (#3 - Billboard Hot 100). "Janet" made the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the summer of 1985 before The Commodores split up.
Trevino from UsaThis song brings back memories as a kid listening to the radio. This song is definitely one of my favorites from the Commodores.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 9th 1985, the Commodores performed "Nightshift" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'... One month earlier on January 20th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at #71; and on April 14th it peaked at #3 (for 1 week) and spent 18 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 6 of those 18 weeks it was on the Top 10)... And on March 10th, 1985 it reached #1 (for 4 weeks) on Billboard's R&B Singles chart... The group won the 1985 Grammy Award for 'Best Vocal R&B Performance by a Duo/Group'.
Lu from Naples, FlMet a woman this evening while a group of friends were out enjoying our favorite lounge musician. During his break, this woman began to talk about her 20-year old son who had passed a year ago. She said she woke up every night at 3:45 a.m. and she's convinced that is when he passed. She heard his voice telling her, "Mom, it's time for me to go." We had a long conversation about loved ones being able to communicate with us from the other side. She talked about meeting with a medium who told her many things that only her son would know about. That medium is flying in to visit her again tomorrow. She was in tears by the time the musician we were there to listen to began to play and sing again. And the first song he sang was "Nightshift." I told my new friend that there are no accidents and that the lyrics of "Nightshift" were a message for her. "It's gonna be all right/On the nightshift/Oh you found another home/I know you're not alone/On the nightshift."
Charlesvii from London, EnglandThis song paints an image in my head of 5 coloured men who work a hard job together... They sing this song every night in work
Chris from Chicago, IlI really love this song.Great tribute and very mellow and soulful.Don't get to hear it much,though!
George from Somewhere, GaThe line "When we were working out" refers to Jackie Wilson's song "Baby Workout." The "Nightshift" refers to heaven with life on Earth being the day shift. "You found another home" on the Nightshift.
Guy from Woodinville, WaThe line "Aw talk to me so you can see what's going on" is a reference to Gaye's 1971 hit, "What's Going On."
Sam from Bright, InThis is just a great song to listen to at night, especially if you are working a nightshift.