What’s Going On is my personal pick for a perfect album. I love the sound, the lyrics, the messages, and Marvin’s voice. I first listened to it over the summer of 2014 and I must say it was the perfect time for me to listen to it. It was a time when I started learning about things that I really wanted to explore for myself. I had fallen down the rabbit hole of biographies and was reading a biography of Malcolm X. I have always been interested in civil rights and the 60’s and 70’s. The album really gave me an anchor into that time period.
As I learned more about Malcolm X, and the more of his speeches I listened to, the more I was intrigued by him. It was not the way I was interested in Martin Luther King Jr, who I have a deep respect for. It was more visceral and magnetic, more violent. I found myself in favor of many of the things he said. It felt to me that it was corroborated in Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”
And then the Ferguson incident became a national issue. I, at this point, became angry. I was angry because I didn’t understand why an unarmed person was killed. I thought that was a last resort, not the first choice. I did not understand. It was “What’s Going On” that sobered me from my rage. It brought me clarity and perspective; it was in all honesty a godsend. Because the damned “inner city blues,” made me wanna holler. I love it for that, I love that it’s timeless and will most likely have something to say even to the generations of the far future.
by Addison Garry