Inspired by Marvin Gaye's What's Goin' On

Quite possibly the greatest album ever recorded, there are millions of people who were and still are inspired by the message, meaning, and impact of the late great Marvin Gaye‘s timeless album What’s Goin’ on. As we’ve passed the 40 year anniversary of its conception, the songs hold more weight than ever, as the United States continues to support an endless war, poverty is rampant in every major U.S. city, years of environmental neglect are becoming noticeable, just to name a few. Despite the technological strides and social advancements we have made over the decades, many other atrocities which Marvin Gaye sang about still continue to plague us.

What makes this album such a stand out in Marvin Gaye’s career is that this album wasn’t the ballad-singing, “I love you, baby”, pretty boy Marvin. This was Marvin that felt that something needed to be said, things needed to change, and he did it the best way he knew how, which was through music. This album was so far from the Marvin that we knew and loved at the time that Berry Gordy was not in favor of the release of the title track. There have been multiple stories on how the album was actually released. Some have said that Gordy reluctantly released it, while others have said that Marvin released it behind his back, but it was the success of the title track that made Gordy pull a 180. Regardless, this was Marvin Gaye taking a career risk to record an album discussing America’s current political climate, and the lack of overall Peace and Love that was being displayed by our society. Martin Luther King’s oration of the I Have a Dream speech is the musical equivalent of What’s Goin’ On. (To read more about What’s Goin’ On, I highly encourage you to read it’s I must also credit The Funk Brothers for not only their contributions on this album, which was the first album they actually received credit, but for their overall contributions to Motown.

As years have gone by, there have been musicians that have been inspired by not only by Marvin Gaye, but by What’s Goin’ On. Here is a few artists that have covered songs from that particular album.

Grover Washington, Jr. remakes Mercy, Mercy, Me on his album entitled Inner City Blues

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Mos Def samples Flying High on his release entitled New Danger

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Phil Upchurch remakes Inner City Blues on his album entitled Darkness, Darkness

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Ohio Players remake What’s Goin On from their album Climax

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J Dilla samples God is Love for Common’s song entitled Love Is

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Written by: Haylow

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