No, seriously. Me and Kenyatta spent much of last week hanging with Megan and the Atlantic crowd, so maybe I've been reprogrammed. But on the flight back from Denver, between reading Paula Giddings incredible biography of Ida B. Wells, I was banging three Marvin albums on random play. No surprise here--the albums were What's Going On, Let's Get It On and the vastly underrated Trouble Man. Anyway, I noticed that Marvin's politics were marked by a strong aversion to taxes ("natural fact is/Honey, that I can't pay my taxes" and "There's only three things that's for sure, taxes, death and trouble"), a disdain for foreign occupation("Father, father we don't need to escalate."), and a strong belief in the right to privacy ("I want to get it on/You don't have to worry that it's wrong." or "There's nothing wrong with love/If you want good loving, just let yourself go.")
Indeed there is way of listening to "Let's Get It On" as anthem for gay--or interracial--marriage. I mean think about lyrics like, "There's nothing wrong with me loving you/Giving yourself to me could never wrong, if the love is true." Give a good listen to "Right On" which has an almost laissez-faire acceptance of the natural order of things ("Some of us born with money to spend/Some of us were born with races to win/Some of us are aware that is good for us to care/Some of us feel the icy wind of poverty in the air.") At the end, Marvin addresses those who live "where peace is craved," those who "live a life surround by good fortune and wealth," those who are simply "enjoying ourselves" and those who "got crowned in the sea of happiness, " with a simple, "right on." Or think of the title cut to Trouble Man where Marvin says that "I come up hard, but that's OK/Trouble man, don't get in my way" or "I come up hard, but never cruel/I didn't make it sugar, playing by the rules." The song is clearly a meditation on the limits of the state and the power of individual will.
Come on, give me my props. You thought I was there was nothing to me but Autobot and Zooey Deschanel love. But I just blew your mind. Admit it. I'm deep. OK, so maybe not. But while you consider my analysis, check out the last great song from arguably the greatest black artist of our time.
UPDATE: Props to Adina for the shout-out to another underrated classic, Here My Dear.
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