3 Eternal Songs by Marvin Gaye that Have Stood the Test of Time

Is there anyone with a better, smoother, more silky voice than Marvin Gaye? The Washington, D.C.-born songwriter and performer had a sound like satin and he used it to deliver some of the most important messages in music history.

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Throughout his career, Gaye entertained and reminded listeners of what was important, whether that was in statement or question. And along the way, Gaye created some timeless songs. Here below, we wanted to dive into a trio of those tunes. Yes, these are three eternal Marvin Gaye soul songs.

[RELATED: Behind the Album: ‘Here, My Dear,’ Marvin Gaye’s Extraordinary Portrait of a Marriage Gone Wrong]

Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” from What’s Going On (1971)

A song about the destruction of the natural world and the environment, this song, delivered with supreme talent and touch, decries what human beings have done to breathable air and the landscapes with radiation, overcrowding, ocean pollution and more. There is a big downside to production, capitalism, and innovation and that is the pillaging of the Earth. Here, Gaye sings about it with sadness and skill, offering,

Woah, ah, mercy, mercy me
Ah, things ain’t what they used to be (ain’t what they used to be)
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows
From the north and south and east

Woah mercy, mercy me, yeah
Ah, things ain’t what they used to be (ain’t what they used to be)
Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our seas
Fish full of mercury

“Sexual Healing” from Midnight Love (1982)

Written when Gaye was struggling with depression and drug addiction, this song is about physical pleasure and passion—but the kind not found through synthetics. Rather it is found through the connection of two people. Sometimes its physical touch that can get us out of our haze, malaise, and sadness. On the arousing and yet deep offering, Gaye sings,

When I get that feeling
I want sexual healing
Sexual healing, oh baby
Makes me feel so fine

Helps to relieve my mind
Sexual healing baby, is good for me
Sexual healing is something that’s good for me

“What’s Going On” from What’s Going On (1971)

Perhaps one of the most important songs of the 20th century, if not ever, this soulful song is about the cruelty some human beings can extend to others. Including police brutality, racism, prejudice, and general violence and exclusion. It’s since become an anthem for the hope many have for a better future. In order to manifest that future, we have to ask the right questions. Sadly, Gaye’s is a question that has long been asked. On the sublime offering, he sings,

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, yea

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

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Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

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