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Music to Atone To
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“Oh, the world’s situation / Should be rated X, rated X.” The late, great Marvin Gaye has an excellent point there.  Gaye was never shy in terms of incorporating socially-conscious themes into his music.  The best example of socially-conscious Gaye undoubtedly hails from his 1971 masterpiece, What’s Going On, led by the timeless, transcendent title track, as well as “What’s Happening Brother” and “Save the Children.”  The following year, 1972, there would be a ‘lost album’ recorded, which wouldn’t be released until 2019.  You’re the Man doesn’t supplant What’s Going On by any means but continues to showcase Gaye’s socially-conscious spirit.  Among the best examples is “The World is Rated X (Alternative Mix),” from which the aforementioned lyrical excerpt hails from.

 What does the soul legend atone for? Throughout the course of this funky, classic soul standout (that bass line slaps), Gaye characterizes a world that’s clearly out of order in a number of respects.  On the first verse, he makes it clear that the horrible happenings aren’t limited to movies – “Fighting, killing, and dope dealing, it’s everywhere.” On the second verse, he laments “all the sin and corruption,” tying in a moral, spiritual viewpoint that returns later in the song.  Prior to that, he’s perturbed by “How we calmly take the lives of other folk,” as well as “Dirty water we can’t drink, dirty air, it’s so unfair.” What’s really intriguing is that Gaye was speaking about the issues plaguing the world in the 70s, and those same issues remain relevant in the 2010s – War, drugs, pollution, climate control, and gun violence.

Gaye attempts to single-handedly atone for a world of corruption himself with his authentic, earnest, and nuanced vocals. The bridge in particular finds him totally locked in and waving the finger at all the wrong: “God is watching, He know where you’re at / Yes, he’s watching the situation, that’s a fact.” The big takeaway? Spread love, spread peace, embrace progressivism, and strive to live morally as opposed to dwelling in sin and corruption.

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About The Curator - Brent Faulkner

Brent Faulkner - Music to Curator

Slightly eccentric with interests that seem to know no ends, restless ‘Renaissance Man’ is the best way to characterize Brent Faulkner, a native of Kentucky.  A certified music educator, multi-instrumentalist, and composer known for his incredibly sharp ear, he lives and breathes music of a variety of styles.  In addition to passion for educating, performing, and writing music, he’s equally passionate blogging and writing about it, managing his own site, The Musical Hype ( When he’s not intensely analyzing music, you can find him reading or watching a movie, reality television or some sporting event.