Artistic Response to War

I have chosen the song “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, released in 1971. This song was inspired by society problems that were occurring at the time such as anti-war protests, police brutality, and overall violence in the world. It is a reflection of what we as a society were doing to ourselves, deteriorating the value of love, peace, and brotherhood by promoting and enabling hate, war, and violence. I believe the message of this song centers around faith in humanity and it is seeking to understand how we have let things get so out of hand. It asks why we are turning against each other during a time when we should be standing together and looking for ways to resolve conflict in more positive and productive ways. I believe the point the song makes was intended at a micro and macro level by questioning issues locally and world-wide as well.

The first verse describes the loss of life and the suffering that is produced by violence and war. It is making the case that war is counter productive and only fuels societal problems.

“War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate”
Here it is clear that the song is trying to convince that nothing good comes from war, and the only way to really eliminate the differences amongst human beings that produce hate, is by spreading love, compromise, and making an effort to understand each other and respect different points of views.

“Picket lines and picket signs, Don’t punish me with brutality”
This line identifies with anti-war advocates who endured police brutality during protests and riots. It goes on to plead for understanding, and the right to free speech.

The overall idea that arises is that as human beings, we are all related to each other, in other words, we should all be on the same team and look out for one another. This song is intended to get people to stop and really evaluate what is happening in our world and how we are all capable of contributing to change by standing up for the values that remain at the core of our existence and standing against anything that promotes hatred, war, and violence.

This song has been covered by many artists who have used it to reflect on the issues facing the world at that certain point in time.
The video below is a more recent version made by a collaboration of multiple artists that was released shortly after the September 11th terrorists attacks.

All Star Tribute- What’s Going On (Retrieved 2/22/13 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2hPhILxez8)

What’s Going On- Marvin Gaye (1971)
Song Lyrics:

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, yeah

Father, father
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today
Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me
So you can see
Oh, what’s going on
What’s going
What’s going on
What’s going on
Right on, baby
Right on
Right on

Mother, mother
Everybody thinks we’re wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply because our hair is long
Oh, you know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Come on talk to me
So you can see
What’s going on
What’s going on
Tell me what’s going on
I’ll tell you ya, what’s going on
Right on, baby
Right on, baby
Right on, baby

Published in:Uncategorized |on February 23rd, 2013 |No Comments »