Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On

Marvin Gaye

In 1971, Marvin Gaye made a career left turn with the album What’s Going On, adopting a socially conscious sound that addressed war, racism, and drugs. 45 years later, What’s Going On remains as relevant as ever. Jim and Greg present a Classic Album Dissection of the iconic protest record.

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What’s Going On

What’s Going On - EP

In 1971, Marvin Gaye released his iconic album What’s Going On, that is beloved by many critics and fans alike. The record is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, and there are countless reasons why What’s Going On is worthy of a Classic Album Dissection. This album marked a huge departure for Gaye, as most of his catalogue at the time had mostly consisted of love ballads and upbeat tracks. On What’s Going On, Gaye wrote and sang about polarizing and controversial topics at the time, like racism, the environment, drugs and the Vietnam War. He also wrote about his personal struggles, such as difficulties within his marriage and the heartbreaking death of his duet partner and close friend Tammi Terrell. Along with the powerful lyrical messages he delivered, the sonic elements of record are just as impactful. Marvin Gaye enlisted talented musicians such as The Funk Brothers and also the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to create a magnificent blend of sounds that could evoke emotion from a brick wall.

Greg and Jim explain what was going on in the country at the time of the album’s creation and release, and talk about what Gaye was dealing with personally. They’ll also chat with NFL Hall of Fame member and retired Detroit Lion Lem Barney about his experience working on the title track which led him to receive a gold record.

Black America Again Common

Black America Again (feat. Stevie Wonder) - Single

Common is one of the many hip-hop talents to come out of Chicago in the last 15 or so years. His masterful free-styling and charisma took him beyond music to an acting career that, at times, took away from his music career. Greg says his latest, Black America Again, is a return to the vitality of his early albums. He hears Common taking on the role of a spiritual messenger as he weaves together African-American history with music resulting in a concept album about the continuing struggle for full freedom for African-Americans. It is a Buy It for Greg. Jim wholeheartedly agrees, as Common’s mastery of words mixes humor with super serious messages resulting in an honesty to his songs. Black America Again is a double Buy It.

Greg

Dylan is not America’s only great literary songwriter. John Prine, now 70, has been championed by legendary figures from Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt, and Dylan himself. Born in Maywood, Illinois, Prine moved to Chicago as a young man, performing three times a week at an open mic night at a club called The Fifth Peg where he was discovered. Even at that young age, Greg feels his songs featured an astounding amount of empathy. That’s best seen in Angel From Montgomery, written from the perspective of a 47-year-old woman trapped in a marriage. Greg nominates Prine’s 1970 live performance at the Fifth Peg, when he was still an unknown, to the Desert Island Jukebox.

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