This Spring, Marvin Gaye’s Opus – What’s Going On – Turns 50 Years Old
Watch the debut of a CNN Cable Television Special on this masterwork this Sunday, May 9th at 8 P.M.
A Brief One by Doug Draper, at Niagara At Large
Posted May 9th, 2021 on Niagara At Large
I would hardly ever use Niagara At Large to plug a special on cable TV, but this one looks to good to ignore.
It is called ‘What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye’s Anthem for the Ages – and it is a tribute to what is, without any doubt here, one of the very best and one of the most influential, albums of music ever produced.
The album, ‘What’s Going On’ also contains songs about war and peace, about protecting our environment, and about freeing humankind from the shackles of poverty and racism that are timeless. They are as relevant today as they were when the late great Marvin Gaye first wrote and recorded them 50 years ago.
One of the most interesting historical footnotes is that Marvin Gaye was already a huge star on Motown Records when he produced this album, but almost always for songs about love and lost love like “Ain’t That Peculiar” and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.”
When he turned to working on ‘What’s Going On’, Motown’s great founder, Berry Gordy, was reluctant to put it out because, up to that time, Motown had made its fortunes on the Billboard charts with highly catchy songs that steered clear of wading into the weeds of the politically-charged issues of the day.
Yet to Barry’s credit, ‘What’s Going On’ was released on the Motown label and it is quite possible that without it, other legendary Motown artists like Stevie Wonder never would have received the green light to create ablums like ‘Innervisions’ with songs like ‘Living in the City’ on it.
Rolling Stone magazine calls ‘What’s Going On’, the song and the album, a masterpiece, and that they still are.
‘What’s Going On’ is right up there at the verty top of Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, along with The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’, The Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds, Stevie Wonder’s ‘Songs in the Key of Life’, Prince’s ‘ Purple Rain’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Blood on the Tracks’.
“After What’s Going On,” says Rolling Stone in its reviews of the album, “black musicians at Motown and elsewhere felt a new freedom to push the musical and political boundaries of their art. “When I was struggling for the right of the Motown artist to express himself,” Gaye said, “Stevie [Wonder] knew I was also struggling for him.”
“At the end of the final song on What’s Going On, the lament “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler),” the music shifts back into a jazzier reprise of the title track. As the album fades out, the groove continues on. Five decades later, it still hasn’t stopped.”
If you can get CNN on your screen, watch this documentar at 8 p.m. this Sunday, May 9th.
And if you love music and don’t have ‘What’s Going On’ by Marvin Gaye in your collection, do yourself a favour and go out and get it.
To watch Marvin Gaye performing a medley of What’s Going on and another song on the album, ‘What’s Happening Brother, in front of a live audience, click on the screen below –
To access Rolling Stone Magazine’s top albums of all time , click on – https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/best-albums-of-all-time-1062063/the-beatles-abbey-road-2-1063228/
And finally, in the spirit of Earth Day 2021, click on the screen for this great song from the album –
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