Monday, November 17, 2008

Channeling Marvin

Friday night, I was driving home... I heard his song and the lyrics moved me. It moved me that they were written when I was 13 years old, before I was old enough to fight in any war. Here I am now at age 50, having gotten out of the Air Force 3 years ago (when I was 47 years old), after having served for 22 years. I just barely escaped two wars... two wars going on at the same time, mind you.

I just had a beer with an old Air Force buddy of mine who had just returned to Philly after serving a year in Afghanistan. I asked him if he was going anywhere else. He said that he was in the process of getting out too... we called it "dropping papers." He said that he had given his country 25 of his best years, including two in the desert (he had been in Iraq the year before) and he felt that was enough. I couldn't argue with him and there was Marvin's words from his album, "What's Goin' On?"...

"Hey baby, what'cha know good?
I'm just gettin' back, but you knew I would
War is hell, when will it end?
When will people start gettin' together again?
Are things really gettin' better like the newspaper said?
What else is new my friend besides what I read?
Can't find no work, can't find no job my friend
Money is tighter than it's ever been...
Say man, I just don't understand
What's goin' on across this land.
Ah, what's happenin' brother?
Oh yeah, what's happenin' my man?
Are they still gettin' down where we used to go and dance?
Will our ball club win the pennant? Do you think they have a chance?
And tell me friend,
How in the world have you been?
Tell me what's out and I want to know what's in..
What's the deal man, what's happenin'?
What's happenin' brother?
Ah, What's happenin' my man?
Ah, What's happenin' brother?
What's been shakin' up and down the line?
I want to know because I'm slightly behind the times.

"What's Happening Brother" by Marvin Gaye and James Nyx
1971 Copyright by Jobette Music, Inc.

We nearly had that same conversation, word for word. It was eerie, almost... and then, as I was driving home, I turned the radio on and there was Marvin... singing that song. It's funny, how it's a different war, fought by a different generation and yet, despite all of that, people, their needs, and concerns remain the same. I hope my friend gets out while he's still in one piece and before he is called to return to that desert.


R. Fitzgerald said...

Love me some Marvin. He's always a good choice.

BTW, Check out my latest post, I'm passing the torch.

Raven said...

I LOVE Marvin!!! My mom said as a little girl I just sat in front of the TV in tears when they announced his death. The words of that song carry on...they are still relevant today.

Kin'shar said...

Do u know I was twelve when he died......and I cried like hell....

I miss him

A Go Bytch said...

well I happen to like Marvin Gaye although he was before my time.. my ERA they don't make music they make noise.

Go b.

nikki said...

that's actually my fav cut from that album cuz it's the voice of the cats who came back. i always get pissed when i think of all the marble monuments memorializing the dead, yet the living vets are getting kicked out of their facilities due to cut budgets.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

That is why I love music so is timeless iso many ways, well GOOD music.


12kyle said...

marvin was one of the illest to ever grab a mic

everytime i think about him...i can't help but think about him singing the national anthem at the nba all star game. pure classic

Toni said...

I love Marvin Gaye..This was a very timely post Keith

James Perkins said...

I'm really feeling this brother Keith..Great Post

Sunflower said...

A really nice post Keith..I hope your friend gets out in one peice too.

Angie B. said...

I loved Marvin Gaye...and especially 'What's Goin On' I like the way you mixed your buddy's war experience with one of the best cuts on his album.

Lisa said...

Another gem of a post Keith..Very
mood reflecting.

Simon Bastion said...

Fighting two wars at once is indeed a sad state of affairs Keith..I'm so glad that the U.S.
got "Regime Change"..Lord knows we
need it.

Tate2 said...

Nice Post..and very timely too!

dessex said...

Man that album is a true master piece. From top to bottom it was just great msic

Mizrepresent said...


I read this first at work...well i don't know if you know but i can't comment from work, so i had to wait until i got home.
This reminded me of my bruh who passed. He was decorated with 4 medals for his service in VietNam and yet when he returned he got no help whatsoever...he came back a heroin addict, then an his death he got nothing but $100 to help with his burial and yet even with all the devastation he witnesssed he remainded a kind and loving individual. Yes, Marvin spoke for a whole lot of you all...he was special, just like you all are.

Somebodies Friend said...

I love this one Keith,

Keep up the good work, you are an inspiration!

Moanerplicity said...

Wow! I know this song by heart. It is w/out a doubt one of Marvin's best. So much OF its time, & yet ahead of its time. Musically, this man was a prophet w/ a keen eye on the world he lived in. Sadly, the brother who inspired it, Frankie, passed a couple of years ago as well.



"Mommy, can I go to Timmy's blog and play?"

Click on image to enlarge for reading

Click on image to enlarge for reading

Click on image to enlarge for reading