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What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye

Motown, May 21, 1971

Track Listing: 1. What’s Going On, 2. What’s Happening Brother, 3. Flyin’ High (In the Friendly Sky, 4. Save the Children, 5. God Is Love, 6. Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology), 7. Right On, 8. Wholy Holy, 9. Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

“What so proudly we hail’d
At the twilight’s last gleaming”

-fromThe Star-Spangled Banner

Marvin Gaye sang an amazing rendition of the National Anthem once. It was at the 1983 NBA All Star Game.

It was just a few short years before MJ would taxi on the runway and a league would really take flight.

“Flying high in a friendly sky
Oh baby, flyin’ high”

-fromFlyin’ High (In The Friendly Sky)

Sports? Ridiculous, you say. You say tomato, I say tomahto. I say Devin Hester ridiculous, Derrick Rose ridiculous. A sight to behold. And yes, I know there is a big bad world beyond sports, and even in sports, there is a world beyond Chicago. I witness that greatness too, but the chance to see it live and in person, again and again, it is Sweetness.

Of course, beware fool’s gold, sports highs are like all the rest. Winning the NBA lottery, Sweet Home Chicago, hometown-boy-turned-youngest-ever-MVP … turned-torn ACL. Noooooooooooo! For the love of Gale Sayers and Kerry Wood, nooooooo! Some things are just not right. You say, get over it. You say it isn’t life and death. Unless it is: Ben Wilson. I was a young kid in a driveway shooting baskets, thinking it was okay to hope, thinking that good news would have to follow and Ben Wilson was going to somehow make it.

“What’s happening brother
Ah what’s happening brother”

-fromWhat’s Happening Brother

Fusion. Derrick-and-Marvin, rock-and-soul, sports-and-music. Greatness is the reason it all matters. Greatness is something to witness, to see, hear, and feel. Especially now, now more than ever. A world in endless war. Or other news of the day: more foreclosures on the block or a bad day on Wall Street that ends for traders in sad martinis, maybe even drowning their sorrow with drugs. The war on drugs. Violence, murder, rape, kidnappings. Not to mention the natural disasters like the earthquakes, tsunamis, and a spike in devastating tornados. Some say Mother Nature is fighting back. If not, then what? What’s going on here, anyway?

“Who really cares?
To save a world in despair
There’ll come a time, when the world won’t be singin’
Flowers won’t grow, bells won’t be ringin’
Who really cares?
Who’s willing to try to save a world
That’s destined to die”

-fromSave the Children

Whoa, whoa, slow down there, slow down, it can’t be all bad. So says a sympathetic groove that locks in a soft embrace of reassurance.

“Oh, mercy mercy me”

-fromMercy Mercy Me

It can always look bad, real bad, but a message of the day says, It Gets Better. It is a nobel project that takes it out into the open, into discussions, YouTube videos, into consciences, lighting a wick of hope.

“Only love can conquer hate”

-fromWhat’s Going On

And then, a declaration of humanity and love, Presidential style. The United States of America, TO THE WORLD. Every man and man and woman and woman, everybody, talking about love. And hate.

“Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what’s going on”

-fromWhat’s Going On

Conversation. Disagreement. Forward.

“We’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today”

-fromWhat’s Going On

Up next, the economy. Jobs. The environment. When things look bleak, know that proof exists that greatness can not only be aspired to but also can be achieved. Check it out: history, a book, video, recordings, all proof. Here’s one, hit it hard with Marvin Gaye’s call to arms, and while at it, carry with you his weapons of choice: love, compassion, and awareness. Clean it up, all of it. Why not dream big? Cleanse the soils of Mother Earth, and in parallel, any lost souls that find themselves loosening their grip on that all-important rope of hope.