#93, "What's Going On," Marvin Gaye (1971)

We were heavy into this album two and a half years ago when we went on tour with Loi Loi over Thanksgiving, hitting Chapel Hill, Charleston, and Raleigh. We met up with them midway through their tour. We couldn't get the rental car to sync up to our phones, so we stopped in a Target on the way and bought a portable bluetooth speaker so that we could listen to our own shit. It was Black Friday. We were desperate. The speaker would fall off the dash if I turned the steering wheel slightly and would occasionally hit the wiper control, which became a source of amusement as we got more road-weary. We listened to What's Going on and Paul Simon's Graceland on the way down. We listened to other stuff too, but those two are burned on my memory. We also listened to the entirety of Whitney Houston's Bodyguard Soundtrack (not to be confused with Electric Grandmother's Bodyguard Soundtrack) and Metallica's Black album at 3:00 AM driving back to DC. It was a memorable trip. And that little speaker was a valuable investment. We use it all the time to this day.


Though I like the title track best, I have another strong connection to "Mercy Mercy Me" because of the cover that was released and played on pop radio in the early 90s because they decided Earth Day was going to be marketable. I never thought to look up who did that version until just this minute and I guess it was Robert Palmer (?!). Anyway, I remember my mom, who was somehow unfamiliar with the original remarking about the 1991 version "this song is cute--it's about the environment." And that was one of my first realizations of political music other than vague references to justice like you'd find in "Imagine" by John Lennon, which I think is the poster child for Basic Policial Music. 


Also I've never seen this video, evidently official, released last year. It's great.