I loves me some Marvin! This one resonated with me today, with all the proposed changes to the EPA and other protections for the world we live in at risk, it feels like now is the time to hear this message again. The beauty of the introduction of this remix lies in the intricate vocal harmonies, I wanted you to hear Marvin like he was in your living room and I am very happy with the result. The emotional impact of the thoughtful and deeply felt lyrics sung a capella made me cry. Such a beautiful lament from his influential landmark LP from 1971, "What's Going On". The LP was quite controversial according to Berry Gordy, who was not behind this new direction Marvin was heading in. Gaye was sensitive to the maelstrom of turmoil especially after hearing stories from his brother Frankie, who served in Vietnam. He knew he had to express it creatively. Motown felt that the mixes on the album were terrible and it was left to Phil Jones, company music executive to tell Gaye to fix it. Gaye resisted and Jones listened to it again, then shipped the LP the way it was. Motown need not have worried, when the album dropped on January 20, 1971 it exploded within a day and the title track was the #1 R&B hit for five weeks starting March 27, 1971.
Back in 1983, I lost my Dad to lung cancer in the spring. At the time, I was a McDonald's second assistant manager at a location blocks away from the Canadian National Exhibition where he was performing. In addition the Police Picnic was at the outdoor theatre nearby that emptied out onto the same street called Dufferin and there was a kids league soccer tournament down King Street. It was a safe be to say that we would get slaughtered after the concerts, there were sold out. I was only there a few months and I was left alone with Sheldon a new trainee manager who had yet to experience the horrors of an after concert rush. When the crowds started arriving en masse, I made the decision to drop lobby and lot duties to keep up with the massive wave of hungry customers. I directed Sheldon to handle customer complaints at the counter and to pull cash from the drawers and put it in the safe, cos it would have been a perfect time to get held up. I was stocking the kitchen so they would not have to leave their stations so we could operate at top speed, and had time to empty garbage bags, but not wipe down and clean litter in and around the store. We got them in and out in record time, keeping the lines moving not more than 5 minutes in and out. When the crowd died out, I directed staff to clean up and was turning around when the store manager came in to see how we were doing. Sheldon and I were eviscerated in front of staff for not keeping EVERYTHING together, ie clean lobby and lot. Truth is we were not adequately staffed, and then the store manager left letting us know how disappointed he was. We were completely deflated especially after the heroic effort to maintain customer wait time and good service. Sheldon was down like a dog, so I told him to take a break. While the staff was cleaning up, I sat in the lobby with a coffee, gathering my thoughts and courage. The next thing I know, this huge limo pulls up to the store and out of it walks six or seven fine black women dressed up in black sequined dresses, hats with a few black feathers and four big black muscle men also dressed in black walked up to the counter. I watched them admiring how they were all wearing black. While they ordered, no one noticed the slim, tall man with a navy blue shirt, grey slacks and a black captain's hat who sauntered in and then leaned up against the counter that separated the service area from the eating area. Suddenly feeling the power that entered the room, I ran behind the counter and told the cook/counter staff that Marvin Gaye had arrived and not to freak out. They did me proud and we completed their rather large take out order. I decided to comp the meals, and told the bodyguard who was to pay to not worry about it. They took their food and the bodyguard I spoke to went up to Marvin, and I guess told him what I did. Marvin looked directly at me, flashed that brilliant smile and I was totally in his universe. He nodded at me, and I was in heaven. He then left with his entourage and as they drove away, I was overcome with emotion. I had just connected with one of the greatest musical talents ever and the disgrace that the Store Manager heaped upon me was gone. I felt lighter and realized that things were going to get better after all. I will never forget that encounter, I think about it every time I hear Marvin, he helps me get through the tough times. I left the job soon after that and did go on to a much better position elsewhere.