Thursday, June 19, 2008

GMVW # 24: "A Moral Compass"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 24: A Moral Compass
Song: What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye
(Songwriter: Marvin Gaye)
June 19, 2008

Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ album achieved a rare, often elusive goal:  A highly successful wire-to-wire commentary on society’s woes.  Not the type of subject matter people typically flock to the record store for.  In order to pull it off, Marvin Gaye had to enhance the product with something that has fallen many musicians with equally lofty ambitions: Great music.  No problem there.  ‘What’s Going On’ is a masterful album.

In most cases, albums with social-awareness subject matter include songs covering other topics as well.  Several classics include Dylan’s ‘Hurricane’; Mellencamp’s ‘Jackie Brown’; Neil Young’s ‘After the Goldrush’; The Kinks ‘Father Christmas’; Woody Guthrie’s ‘Deportees ‘; 10,000 Maniacs ‘What’s the Matter Here ‘; Springsteen’s ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’; the Clash ‘London Calling’; Leonard Cohen’s ‘Democracy’; Bruce Cockburn’s ‘If a Tree Falls’; the Pretenders ‘My City Was Gone’; Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’.  All have (and continue to) cut deep with me.

Rarely though, do you get an entire album that works on this level.  One that comes to mind is my favorite Lou Reed album, ‘New York’.  Another is Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ album. Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ tops this short list.  This weeks Gem is the title track.


Gem Music Video: What’s Going On


About the Video:  This link is no longer working (actually, the most recent update in Jan 2010 works), so it’s hard to recall.  However, I do remember Marvin Gaye saying ‘Thank You’ in response to the applause and right after the first line ‘Oh, Mercy, Mercy Me’. The clip can also be seen in the Rolling Stone Magazine documentary of the first 20 years of it’s existence. 

Video Rating: 2


Best Feedback: Fred


Now that one is off the beaten track for you.  I love the diversity.

Got me to listening to "Let's Get It On", which I love

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