The original definition of the phrase ‘Heard it through the Grapevine’ is:
The term originated in the USA and comes from the telegraph system invented in the 19th century by Samuel Morse. The system required thousands of kilometres of telegraph wire to be installed above the ground by telegraph poles placed at regular intervals along the telegraph route. People thought the wires and poles looked like the strings used to train vines, so the telegraph lines became known as ‘the grapevine’. During the American Civil War rumours were often spread via the telegraph lines. When people were asked whether a particular story was true, they would often reply ‘I heard it through the grapevine’.
The definition was mentioned by Susie Dent on the British game show ‘Countdown’, a few weeks ago. I’ve mentioned Susie Dent before, a very knowledgeable wordsmith, with her unassuming ways. ‘Countdown’ is one of the longest-running game shows in the world, along with the original French version. Countdown is a British game show involving word and number puzzles. It is produced by ITV and broadcast on Channel 4.
We’ve all the heard song ‘Heard It Through the Grapevine’ but you may be interested to read the history.
‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ is a song written by Norman Whitfield and Barret Strong. The first recording of the song to be released was produced by Whitfield for Gladys Knight and the Pips and released as a single in September 1967; it went to number two in the Billboard chart.
The most popular version of the song, to mind, was Marvin Gaye’s. It was placed on his 1968 album “In the Groove”. It went to the top of Pop Singles chart for seven weeks, and became for a time the biggest hit single on the Motown label. The Gaye recording has since become an acclaimed soul classic.
However, the song has nothing to do with the historical explanation above. I quote the last verse of the song.
I know a man ain’t supposed to cry
But these tears I can’t hold inside
Losin’ you would end my life you see
‘Cause you mean that much to me
You could have told me yourself
That you loved some one else
Instead I heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine.
One of the definition of the word ‘history’ is: the whole series of past events connected with a special person or thing.
I think Marvin Gaye falls under the classification as ‘a special person’, don’t you?