Chart Position: 2

  • Written by Marvin Gaye, Al Cleveland and Renaldo Benson
  • #4 on Rolling Stone magazines list of 500 greatest songs
  •  #24 on Rolling Stone magazines list of 100 greatest pop songs
  •  #65 on Recording Industry of America’s ‘Songs of the Century’
  • Keyboards: Marvin Gaye
  • Saxophone: Eli Fontaine
  • Other instruments: Funk Brothers, Detroit Symphony Orchestra
  • Backing vocals: Mel Farr and Lem Barney
  • Produced by Marvin Gaye
  • Recorded in Detroit MI
  • Part of the inspiration for this song was the return of Marvin Gaye’s brother Frankie from a tour of duty in the Vietnam war
  • Motown executive Barry Gordy broke his long-standing rule of not allowing Motown artists to sing about political subjects when, against his better judgment,  he allowed this song to be released
  • Marvin Gaye’s success with this song and the 1971 LP What’s Going On helped Stevie Wonder to also achieve greater artistic expression at Motown
  • Later recorded by Donny Hathaway (1972), Quincy Jones (1971), Herbie Mann (1971), Undisputed Truth (1971), David T. Walker (1971), Charles McPherson (1971), Richie Havens (1973), Les McCann (1972), Ohio Players (1974), El Chicano (1973), Jimmy McGriff (1972), Penny Goodwin (1974), Michael Longo (1974), Harvey Mason feat. George Benson (1977), CTI All Stars (1977), Weldon Irvine (1976), Cyndi Lauper (1986), Delroy Wilson (1984), Eddie Cornelius (1984), Cyndi Lauper (1986), Live Aid Armenia (1989), Carlene Davis (1992), Mica Paris (2005), Warrior King (2001), Joe Cocker (2004), Michael McDonald (2004), A Perfect Circle (2004), Human Nature (2006), Soul 4 Soul (2011), Seal (2011), Playing for Change (2014), Thom Douvan (2014), John Legend (2016) and many others

Marvin-Gaye-Whats-Going-On

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