Monday, October 27, 2008

Marvin Gaye on the Election

Marvin had three Top-Ten singles from his great 1971 album What's Going On, and two more Top-Ten hits with "Trouble Man" in 1972, and "Let's Get It On" six months later.

In between, however, he released a two-part single called "You're the Man," which, unfortunately, didn't do that well, reaching only #50 on the pop charts. Originally intended as the title track for a full album, the project was eventually scrapped when the single didn't do well and the offer came up to work on the Trouble Man soundtrack.

The song more or less vanished for the next 23 years. Not until the 1995 box set, The Master, 1961-1984, did the complete version re-appear. (It's also available now as a bonus track on the CD of Let's Get It On.)

Too bad, because it might be one of Marvin's best songs. Released during the tumultuous 1972 presidential campaign that featured Richard Nixon running for re-election against George McGovern, "You're the Man" offers some stinging lyrics about the plight of African-Americans under the Nixon administration, as well as anger at all of the empty promises made to blacks by white politicians. That anger powers some of Marvin's most emotional and riveting singing, especially in the last part of the song.

I wish he were still around to see what was happening now. How would he react to Barack Obama and this election?



Youre the Man, Pts. 1-2 - Marvin Gaye

(Marvin Gaye/Kenneth Stover)

Talkin', talkin' to the people
Tryin' to get them to go your way
Tellin' us not to worry
That we won't be led astray
So blind, unsignified
Your opponents always lying
Think about the mistakes you make
I believe America's at stake
You know, busin', busin' is the issue
Do you have plan with you?
If you have a plan
If you have a master plan
Got to vote for you
Hey hey, got to vote for you
You're the man

We don't wanna hear no more lies
About how you plan to economize
We want our dollar value increased
And employment to rise
The nation's taxation
Is causin' all, all this inflation
Don't give us no peace sign
Turn around and rob the people blind
Economics is the issue
Do you have a plan with you?
'Cause if you've got a master plan
Got to vote for you
You're the man

[8 times, over scat singing:]
Don't you understand?
There's misery in the land

People marching on Washington
Better hear what they have to say
'Cause the tables just might turn against you, brother
Set around Election Day
Politics and hypocrites
Is turning us all into lunatics
Can you take the guns from our sons?
Right all the wrongs this administration has done?
Peace and freedom is the issue
Do you have a plan with you?
If you've got a plan
If you've got a master plan
Got to vote for you
Hey hey, got to vote for you
'Cause you're the man

[Repeat and fade:]
Got to vote for you

5 comments:

Liam said...

Awesome.

cowboyangel said...

Liam,

Had you ever heard the song before?

crystal said...

William, what is that placw where you got the song?

Liam said...

No, I hadn't.

cowboyangel said...

Crystal,

I found it on a site called imeem.com, which, at first glance, looks like a pretty extraordinary site. They seem to have a ton of music that one can listen to and put on blogs. As well as videos and entire albums. Not sure how they can do it.