One of those great songs with themes and laments that will never grow old.
"In an interview for Rolling Stone magazine, Marvin Gaye discussed what had shaped his view on more socially conscious themes in music and the conception of his eleventh full-length, non-duets studio album:
"In 1969 or 1970, I began to re-evaluate my whole concept of what I wanted my music to say... I was very much affected by letters my brother was sending me from Vietnam, as well as the social situation here at home. I realized that I had to put my own fantasies behind me if I wanted to write songs that would reach the souls of people. I wanted them to take a look at what was happening in the world.
Barry Gordy (head of Motown Records) eeventually gave in, certain that the record would flop. Upon its release in January 1971, "What's Going On" became Motown's fastest selling single at that point, going to the number-one spot on the R&B charts for five weeks and number-two for three weeks on the Pop listings, with "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night retaining the top spot."