What's Going On Marvin Gaye Analysis

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Every song has its unique theme which expresses critical messages and reflects the life at a particular time. One of the most influential R&B (rhythm and blues) song is the anti-war song "what's going on" by Marvin Gaye on 21 may 1971. It is one of the top twenty political songs as mentioned in New-statesman by Jennifer Thompson. The "what's going on" song and its album have the same name. The album comprises nine songs which related to each other so it has been categorized as a song cycle. The main theme of both the song and the album came from Gaye's life. Earlier in 1970, Marvin Gaye, the singer and the producer, experienced many miserable events. His duet partner Tammi Terrell had passed away with a brain tumor, his marriage to Anna Grody …show more content…
First, the song begins with a description of two sorrowful situations. It starts with describing mothers crying on their children. It is extremely difficult for a mother to lose a child, especially in the war. Furthermore, he mentions the brothers and states that "there is far too many of you dying". Gaye's uses these emotional examples to trigger the audiences' emotions and to prove that wars are devastating. These examples lead him to the concluding sentence of the first stanza which is finding a solution other than wars to bring the love and the peace. Furthermore, Gaye's says "father, father we don’t need to escalate" and this sentence is a metaphor for the authority. He logically proved to them that wars are not the right way of dealing with any situation. Despite Gaye's sorrow and the miserable events that he got through, the lyrics showed an optimistic tone like, "bring some love here today", "for only love can conquer hate", and "we have got to find a way". He got this optimistic tone from Martin Luther King. As in king's quotation, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." Second, the music mainly comprises chatting, screaming, and saxophone. The song starts with a chatting voices talking to each other like people in a party. Then the sound of the solo saxophone cuts the voices …show more content…
First, the repetition of the question, "what's going on?" indicates Gaye's wishes to resist ignorance by wondering and questioning. He advocates wonder as it leads to questions which reflect the deeper meaning of ordinary concepts and experiences. This distant message makes the song alive till know. This message applies to all generations and all centuries. For example, many artists get influenced by the distant message of the song like, Raheem DeVaughn and Bohemia Afterdark. DeVaughn talked about what is going on in the world and he developed his songs to be with influential messages like Marvin Gaye’s songs. Both of them produced a meaningful music and they intentionally educate their listener in their music. For instance, the song "bulletproof" mimics "what's going on" in its message and music. Moreover, Afterdark made a song on 23 January 1996 with the title, "like Marvin Gaye said (what's going on)". He got inspired by Gaye's concept of wonder and borrowed some words from "what's going on" as he said in his song that "I need to be strong to know what's going on". Second, the music of the song inspires many artists and musicians. As mentioned before the music of the song was unique because of the combination of the chatting, screaming and the saxophone. Nowadays many artists use

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