Thursday, June 2, 2011

Marvin Gaye "What's Going On / What's Happening Brother"

One of those great songs with themes and laments that will never grow old.

From Wikipedia:

"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.[5]
—Marvin Gaye
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."


  1. I don't know this guy, Doug but he has a good voice. It certainly looks like he draws a crowd.

  2. Marvin Gaye was one of the great talents of the 60's and 70's, Cassandra, with a whole list of hits and a great deal of respect from his peers. He was also a troubled man unforetunetly and had severe bouts of depression. Much of this in his adult life was due to the loss of his favorite duet partner, Tammi Terrell, with whom he recorded "Aint Nothing Like the Real Thing" and other hits between 1967 and 1969. Sadly, Miss Terrell died in 1970, two weeks short of turning 25, after a long series of operations to deal with a malignant brain tumor. Marvin Gaye, according to friends, never got over her death, somehow blaming himself.

    This song represents what so many American were feeling the hard times of civil unrest and an seemingly unwinnable and unstoppable war.

    He was killed by a gun or rifle fired by his deranged father in 1983. This left a heartfelt gap among music lovers like myself that can't be filled. We still have his many songs like this one.

    I really like the images in this video. They were from a 1973 documentary.

  3. Here's a sample of a younger Marvin with a more playful tune in happpier days (1964) , one of my favorite early Motown hits.

  4. Thanks Doug, great clip. The whole What's Going On album is a masterpiece. Might have to go and listen to it now!

  5. Glad I could inspire you in that direction, Ian!

  6. Very nice Doug as he was tremendous and it was sad of how he left that gap as you mentioned here within many music lovers. It's a pity what happened with his father. Yet as multiply seemingly is hosting some problems. I thought I would make this remark as Marvin was tremendous and what he wrote about was certainly within that era of his own way.
    A decent Tribute and Documentary Douglas.

  7. He certainly was, Jack. Thanks for your comments.