Protest 100: Marvin Gaye – ‘What’s Going On’

Artist:          Marvin Gaye

Song:           What’s Going On

Album:        What’s Going On

Producer:    Marvin Gaye

Label:          Motown

Year:           1971

Notes:
Marvin Gaye, already 10 albums into his career, decided in the fall of 1970 to write a protest album. Urban struggle and socio-economic disparity were both rife, as was environmental destruction. When Gaye presented the idea to Motown boss Barry Gordy, the latter asked why he wanted to ruin his career. Gordy remained opposed to the single’s release even after its recording. But VP of sales Barney Ales went around Gordy and commissioned a 100,000-copy pressing. It sold out in four days.

Excerpt from ‘Unreality’  —
If you don’t know what’s going on, it’s just because you don’t see anything wrong with it.”

Lyrics

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, eh eh

Father, father
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, oh oh oh

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what’s going on
What’s going on
Yeah, what’s going on
Ah, what’s going on

In the mean time
Right on, baby
Right on brother
Right on babe

Mother, mother, everybody thinks we’re wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply ’cause our hair is long
Oh, you know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today
Oh oh oh

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
C’mon talk to me
So you can see
What’s going on
Yeah, what’s going on
Tell me what’s going on
I’ll tell you what’s going on, ooh ooh ooh ooh
Right on baby
Right on baby

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

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