Living with…Marvin Gaye…for a week

Not really moved in time much – 1971 – and I’m told (by those in the know obviously) that this is one of those utlimate classics.  And like the Stones I only know Marvin from greatest hits compilations and the ones on the radio.  So here’s to living with him for a week.


And it all starts so well…What’s Going on drifts on to your ears – languid and so cool but with those intense lyrics. And then another song that sounds similar, and then another one…and after the first listen I’m left with the chilled feel of the overall album and the sense that there’s some important things being said but not really latched on to it


I apologize Marvin, I am so so sorry.  I confess that with the prospect of a long set of car journeys as I travel down to Bristol,  I switch after What;s Going On to an American Anthems collection – probably everything that you hate about music compressed in to an emotion-drenched triple CD.

“Been toto Berlin, Boston and Chicago in my reo speedwagon” q guitar solo, dried ice, silk shirts and wind machine. Fade to cigarette lighters waving along… (from Guilty Pleasures playing in a car near you) #AmericanAnthems

I am so so sorry Marvin but over two hours locked in the car required guaranteed driving music.


Getting it more. Marvin’s message is simple about what we’ve done with ourselves, our planet…Mercy mercy me is brilliant and Inner City Blues.  Although had to revert back to American Anthems for part of the journey back. In honour of that have dug out the Cyndi Lauper version of What’s Going On…doesn’t have quite the same resonance.  Could be worse, it could be Rolf Harris covering…which I see he’s done with some Beatles songs which I must remember if I ever get to spend the week with them..or may be I’ll conveniently forget that.

While on the subject of covers Mercy Mercy Me has had a few decent ones – love The Strokes version and of course Robert Palmer, but a nice treat is a more obscure acapella version by a group called Chapter 6 – don’t think they’re American anthem chaps somehow no guitar solos there…

And in conclusion…

I admire this album, but unfortunately I can’t say more than that.  There are two pure classics in What’s Going On and Mercy mercy me but the rest of it for me is brillianlty crafted, but I haven’t fallen in love.  And maybe I can’t connect with the feeling of the time, maybe we’ve all heard that message done more than several times since. Maybe the four long car journeys in the week with the need for American Anthems and Chicago, Boston and REO Speedwagon blasted poor Marvin away, I don’t know.  Anyway, I’m glad that I spent time with Marvin’s greatest piece but didn’t come away as awed as I thought I would be. The weight of expectation doesn’t always help.

For a different soul experience find out about my week living with Aretha Franklin.