Creative: Strengthen Your Spirit
"What's Going On"
Marvin Gaye’s song, “What’s Going On”, was written in collaboration with Obie Benson of the Four Tops. Benson started writing it after a visit to the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in 1969. He thought that the level of brutality that the police exerted against the hippies didn't seem like an appropriate response. Benson wondered what was going on that triggered such violence. One thing led to another and soon he was writing a song about the war and social disorder.
I found an article in Performing Songwriter that has the story behind the song. It’s a tale of art echoing the times. After I finished reading it, I thought about the message of the song and how Marvin Gaye’s voice brought that message to so many hearts around the world. Here is a quote on how he felt about the song,
“To be truly righteous, you offer love with a pure heart, without regard for what you’ll get in return. I had myself in that frame of mind. People were confused and needed reassurance. God was offering that reassurance through his music. I was privileged to be the instrument.”
I took a little time searching for a video performance of Marvin Gaye performing his famous song. I found a couple of different renditions:
A classy version with Marvin Gaye in a white suit at a grand piano in concert in Japan.
And a nine minute version with footage of African-American families at church, picnics at the park, and children playing games. The images fit with the message of the song.