Marvin Gaye at 85: Revisiting What's Going On

Marvin Gaye

Today is a special day as it would have been Marvin Gaye's 85th birthday. Yesterday also marked the 40th anniversary of his death. In honor of these milestones, we decided to revisit Eamon Carr's thoughts on the legendary album What's Going On, which was released in 1971.

The death of Marvin Gaye was a tragedy, and his unique and troubled style ensures that his album, What's Going On, will be enjoyed for years to come. The album was made in difficult circumstances and was a turning point for the Tamla Motown music factory in Detroit. It also helped change the way soul music was made. Remarkably, it had a haunting warning for listeners, like the mythical Cassandra and a cursed Banshee.

Let's start with a few pictures of a man standing in the rain. He looks cold and wet, with sleet clinging to his hair, eyebrows, and geometric beard. He seems to be challenging the weather and maybe even his own problems. He appears to be seeking renewal and purification. This man is Marvin Gaye, a former member of The Rainbows, a vocal group from Washington in the 1950s. He was also a famous face of Motown, who had a hit with "Hitch Hike" in the early 1960s.

During the year 1970, Marvin Gaye suffered a difficult time in his personal life. His colleague Tammi Terrell passed away after a prolonged illness, his relationship with Anna Gordy, sister of the Motown boss, was strained, and he was being pursued by the tax authorities. Despite recording numerous successful singles, Marvin butted heads with sales executives at the company as he longed for creative freedom. He eventually found it in the form of his song 'What's Going On'. However, this came after a lengthy and bitter dispute with Gordy and his marketing team.

When Marvin started recording What's Going On, he was filled with intense energy. He was not content to be idle and wanted to achieve great things, and was under the influence of drugs. He put all his effort into the song, as if he were a boxer who had been deprived of sex and fed with meat for an entire month. Fortunately, Marvin was a caring person at heart. Although he was familiar with the streets, he added kindness to his protest message.

Experts on history and the music industry share tales about a series of fortunate occurrences that led to the evolution of soul music, gospel, jazz, pop, and baroque, characterized by emotional messages of longing, begging, and preaching. Marvin Gaye unified these genres and achieved success with a hit song, but he had to battle his superiors to finish an entire album.

I remember neo-Mod Paolo Hewitt describing What's Going On as a soul opera. While I appreciate the music of James, Curtis, Sly, Stevie, and Bobby, it was in Marvin's album that I discovered something powerful and impressive, which can only be compared to funk's Sistine Chapel. What's Going On is impressive both in a religious and non-religious context, and it's a true success achieved through perseverance. Marvin envisages a bleak future, but he transforms these visions into songs of love, empathy, and optimism, thanks to his unique artistic skills.

What was the secret to his success? The basic mechanics of his impressive flying device can be easily identified. He combined multiple vocal tracks, intricate choral effects, and high-pitched strings that soar above a strong, groovy bass beat. Even today, James Jamerson's basslines continue to amaze listeners with their levitating quality. Additionally, the saxophone adds a wavy sound to the already complex and unusual arrangement. But most importantly, the melody is what captures the hearts of all who hear it. The tunes are both calming and uplifting.

The tunes have endured. You're familiar with 'Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)', 'Save The Children', 'Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)' and 'Wholy Holy'. However, when viewed in the context of his larger plan, they can be interpreted as part of a more jarring and thought-provoking narrative. Marvin had the ability to make the assembly instructions for an Armalite sound enticing, but this is different. It's a desperate plea for salvation, coming from a man who was definitely beginning to understand that his talent was both a blessing and a curse. People all over the world will hear it with time, and maybe they will react when he cries out, "Don't treat me harshly, come on talk to me, so you can see what's happening."

FUN FACT: The name of the leading song was created by Al Cleveland and Renaldo Benson from Four Tops, who allowed Marvin to contribute. Benson mentioned that Marvin added his own lyrics and made some changes to the melody to make it more interesting.

NEXT MOVE: The man was wise enough not to attempt to improve or replicate his previous success. Marvin put out the Trouble Man soundtrack album, which mostly features music without vocals, and created what many consider to be his best work to date, Let's Get It On, which is an album that entices and thrills with its sound.

Article: Latest Update: ‘Mercy Mercy Me (The Environment)’. In this installment of our STAR TRACK series, we're discussing the classic Marvin Gaye hit "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and its continued relevance today in our discussions about environmentalism. The song, released in 1971, was a commentary on the state of the environment at the time and pleaded for action to be taken to address the damage being done. Gaye's lyrics paint a picture of a world ravaged by pollution and neglect, with messages like "fish full of mercury" and "oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas, fish full of mercury" highlighting the issues the planet was facing. As we fast forward to the present day, it's clear that these issues are still very much prevalent. Climate change, pollution, and mass extinction events are still pressing concerns, and the need for action is more urgent than ever. "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" serves as a powerful reminder of the role we all have to play in ensuring a sustainable future for our planet. It's a call to action that we all need to heed if we want to preserve our home for future generations.

The amazing song line goes, "For individuals who enjoy being around others/For individuals who take care of the ill."

INCREDIBLE OCCASION: Firstly, the outstanding and captivating alto riffs of Eli Fountain can be heard at the commencement of the song titled 'What's Going On'...

OTHER ARTISTS' ALBUMS THAT RELATE: Examples include Where I'm Coming From and Talking Book by Stevie Wonder, Superfly by Curtis Mayfield, and Fresh by Sly Stone.

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