Protest 100: The Temptations – ‘Ball Of Confusion’

Artist:          The Temptations

Song:           Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)

Album:        Greatest Hits II

Producer:    Norman Whitfield

Label:          Motown

Year:           1970

Notes:

When the band played on in 1970 it addressed the Vietnam War, segregation, white flight, drug abuse, crooked politicians, and a multitude of other topics. Not much has changed, but it makes clear one of the starkest dichotomies between then and now. Then it seemed normal for the people to question their government. Now…it’s not gonna work out as well if you don’t get out and vote. I don’t give a fuck if you never voted before and never do again. Now’s the time.

[alternate recording at the bottom]

Lyrics:

One, two
One, two, three, four

People moving out, people moving in
Why? Because of the color of their skin
Run, run, run but you sure can’t hide
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
Vote for me and I’ll set you free
Rap on, brother, rap on

Well, the only person talking about love thy brother is the preacher
And it seems nobody’s interested in learning but the teacher
Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration
Aggravation, humiliation, obligation to my nation

Ball of confusion
Oh yeah, that’s what the world is today
Woo, hey, hey

The sale of pills are at an all time high
Young folks walking round with their heads in the sky
The cities ablaze in the summer time
And oh, the beat goes on

Evolution, revolution, gun control, sound of soul
Shooting rockets to the moon, kids growing up too soon
Politicians say more taxes will solve everything
And the band played on

So, round and around and around we go
Where the world’s headed, said nobody knows
Oh, great Googamooga
Can’t you hear me talking to you?

Just a ball of confusion
Oh yeah, that’s what the world is today
Woo, hey, hey

Fear in the air, tension everywhere
Unemployment rising fast, the Beatles new record’s a gas
And the only safe place to live is on an Indian reservation
And the band played on

Eve of destruction, tax deduction, city inspectors, bill collectors
Mod clothes in demand, population out of hand, suicide, too many bills
Hippies moving to the hills, people all over the world are shouting
‘End the war’ and the band played on

Great Googamooga
Can’t you hear me talking to you?

It’s a ball of confusion
That’s what the world is today, hey, hey
Let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear ya

Sayin’ ball of confusion
That’s what the world is today, hey, hey
Let me hear ya, let me hear ya
Let me hear ya, let me hear ya, let me hear ya
Sayin’ ball of confusion

The version that introduced me to the song.
Numbers, 1985

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