Marvin Gaye: What's Going On? Meaning
Song Released: 1971
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What's Going On? Lyrics
'Hey, hey, hey, Robert'
('Hey, what's happenin?')
(I saved a grand)
(Brother, what's happenin?)
'Boy, this is a groove recording, man'
(Hey, how ya doin?)
(Say, it's right on)
'I could dig it'
('Yeah, brother like a fine solid, right...
BurtMichaels Jun 29th, 2017 6:35pm report
Marvin is talking about the ecol-o-gy, man. The en-vi-ro-ment. When I was in grade school in the 1900-and-seventies, we were all worried about the ozone layer going away, and how we were all going to be covered in cancerous boils by graduation. Luckily that didn't happen, and only the kids that lived near the fertilizer run-off stream graduated while covered in cancerous boils, and the earth was not scorched by searing waves of ultraviolet radiation because our shield had been dissipated by a bunch of people spraying glue on their armpits to keep them from sweating, or by spraying glue on their hair to keep it from moving, or by spraying glue onto wood to turn it into plywood. So we were all worried about what was gonna happen. Janis Ian, Joan Baez, The Byrds, Van Morrison, The Grateful Dead, The Monkees, they all did songs about not messing up the planet. Plus, to please stop all the glue-spraying.
Oh, plus war. Everybody was getting drafted to go to places like Vietnam, unlike the previous wars where people, for some reason, couldn't wait to get shot. Young people, especially young black men and others from similar socioeconomic backgrounds were going to war, while rich kids were buying their own way out. More people were coming home wounded than in previous wars, too, because of helicopters and medicine that kept them alive, but shattered in body and soul. Marvin was speaking to the ones afraid of going, and the ones who had friends already at war.
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