The album was an immediate commercial and critical success, and came to be viewed by music historians as a classic of s soul. Ina deluxe edition of the album was released, featuring a recording of Gaye's May concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.
Broad-ranging surveys of critics, musicians, and the general public have shown that What's Going On is regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time and a landmark recording in popular music. By the end of the s, Marvin Gaye had fallen into a deep depression following the brain tumor diagnosis of his Motown singing partner Tammi Terrellthe failure of his marriage to Anna Gordya growing dependency on cocainetroubles with the IRSand struggles with Motown Records, the label he had signed with in One night, while holed up at a Detroit apartment, Gaye attempted suicide with a handgunonly to be saved from committing the act by Berry Gordy 's father.
Gaye started to experience more international success around this time as both a solo artist with hits such as " I Heard It Through the Grapevine " and " Too Busy Thinking About My Baby " and as a dual artist with Tammi Terrellbut Gaye said during this time that he felt he "didn't deserve" his success and he felt like "a puppet - Berry's puppet, Anna's puppet.
I had a mind of my own and I wasn't using it. The singer responded to Terrell's death by refusing to perform onstage for several years. In JanuaryMotown released Gaye's next studio album, That's the Way Love Isbut Gaye refused to promote the recording, choosing to stay at home. During this secluded period, Gaye ditched his previous clean-cut image to grow a beard, and prefer to wear sweatsuits instead of dress suits and sweaters. The singer also got back in touch with his spirituality and also attended several concerts held by the Detroit Symphony Orchestrawhich had been used for several Inner City - Do Me Right (Vinyl) recordings in the s.
While traveling on his tour bus with the Four Tops on May 15, Inner City - Do Me Right (Vinyl), Four Tops member Renaldo "Obie" Benson witnessed an act of police brutality and violence committed on anti-war protesters who had been protesting at Berkeley's People's Park in what was later termed as " Bloody Thursday ". Why are they sending kids far away from their families overseas? Why are they attacking their own kids in the street? Benson sent the song to the Four Tops but his bandmates turned the song Inner City - Do Me Right (Vinyl).
I said 'no man, it's a love song, about love and understanding. I'm not protesting. I want to know what's going on. Benson offered the song to Marvin Gaye when he participated in a golf game with the singer. Gaye felt the song's moody flow would be perfect for The Originals. Benson eventually convinced Gaye that it was his song. The singer responded by asking for partial writing credit, which Benson allowed.
Gaye added new musical composition, a new melody and lyrics that reflected Gaye's own disgust. Benson said later that Gaye tweaked and enriched the song, "added some things that were more ghetto, more natural, which made it seem like a story and not a song Gaye cited the Watts riots as a pivotal moment in his life in which he asked himself, "with the world exploding around me, how am I supposed to keep singing love songs?
That's taking things too far. I just have to do it my way. I'm not a painter. I'm not a poet. But I can do it with music. In an interview with Rolling StoneMarvin Gaye discussed what had shaped his view on more socially conscious themes in music and the conception of his eleventh studio album:.
In orI began to re-evaluate my whole concept of what I wanted my music to say I was very much affected by letters my brother was sending me from Vietnam, as well as the social situation here at home. I realized that I had to put my own fantasies behind me if I wanted to write songs that would reach the souls of people. I wanted them to take a look at what was happening in the world. Immediately after learning about the song, many of Motown's musicians, known as The Funk Brothers noted that there was a different approach with Gaye's record from that used on other Motown recordings, and Gaye complicated matters by bringing in only a few of the members while bringing his own recruits, including drummer Chet Forest.
Jamerson, who couldn't sit properly on his seat after arriving to the session drunk, performed his bass riffs, written for him by the album's arranger David Van De Pitteon the floor. When Gaye heard the playback to what Fontaine thought was simply a demo, Gaye instantly decided that the riff was the ideal way to start the song. When Fontaine said he was "just goofing around", Gaye being pleased with the results replied, "Well, you goof off exquisitely.
Thank you. The laid-back sessions of the single were credited to lots of " marijuana smoke and rounds of Scotch ". Smith and Sands accidentally mixed the two lead vocal takes together. According to one account, Gordy didn't like the song, allegedly calling it "the worst thing I ever heard in my life". Motown executive Harry Balk recalled trying to get Gordy to release the song at the end of the year, to which Gordy replied to him, "that Dizzy Gillespie stuff in the middle, that scattingit's old.
Most of Motown's Quality Control Department team also turned the song down, with Balk later stating that "they were used to the 'baby baby' stuff, and this was a little hard for them to grasp. With the help of Motown sales executive Barney AlesHarry Balk got the song released to record stores on January 20,sendingcopies of the song without Gordy's knowledge, with anothercopies sent after that success.
Gaye returned to Hitsville to record the rest of What's Going Onwhich took a mere ten business days between March 1 and March The album's rhythm tracks and sound overdubs were recorded at Hitsville, or Studio A, while the strings, horns, lead and background vocals were recorded at Golden Worldor Studio B. Pause slideshow Play slideshow.
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