What’s Going On

What’s Going On is one of my favorite songs. I’ve usedit on several occasions here at First Draft including as a Saturday Odds & Sods theme song in 2019.

What’s Going On was written by Marvin Gaye, Al Cleveland, and Renaldo Benson in 1970 for the album of the same name released in 1971. It opened the second phase of Marvin’s brilliant career in which he wrote and sang socially aware songs to meet the challenge of the times. The times are always challenging.

We begin with Marvin’s studio original featuring Eli Fountain on alto saxophone.

The lyrics of What’s Going On were right up Richie Havens’ alley. He folked it up without fucking it up.

Cyndi Lauper had a hit with What’s Going in 1987. She sings it almost as well as Marvin.

Chaka Khan and the Funk Brothers won a Grammy for their cover of What’s Going On:

Etta James. Say no more.

Los Lobos has been playing the Gaye-Cleveland-Benson classic live for decades:

What would the Friday Cocktail Hour be without instrumental versions of the week’s tune? This time, Quincy Jones and Weather Report.

There are many excellent instrumental versions of What’s Going On. I had to either limit it to two or go crazy. I chose sanity.

That’s it for this week. Let’s toast the memory of the great Marvin Gaye. It’s what Aaron, Art, Charles, and Cyril would want. Never argue with them.