EP115: Father Amde of The Watts Prophets on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” (1971)

Episode 115

Father Amde of The Watts Prophets sits down with Morgan to talk about why this album was so groundbreaking, how he got to know Marvin Gaye when he was was still with us, and what Marvin might be talking about if her were here now.

Episode notes

What’s Going On? On May 21, 1971, Marvin Gaye released his eleventh studio album asking this simple question. It was a risky move, for sure. Gaye was at the height of his career and this new album was heavy, focusing on things affecting his community like drug abuse, poverty, injustice and the Vietnam War. People might not have been expecting this, but it was what he wanted to make.

Fortunately, the gamble paid off. What’s Going On went on to sell over two million copies and is widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a timeless record, as true back in 1971 as it is now.

Father Amde of The Watts Prophets sits down with Morgan to talk about why this album was so groundbreaking, how he got to know Marvin Gaye when he was was still with us, and what Marvin might be talking about if her were here now.

More on The Watts Prophets

More on What’s Going On

Show Tracklisting (All songs from What’s Going On unless indicated otherwise):

  • Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)
  • Flyin’ High (In The Friendly Sky)
  • What’s Happening Brother
  • What’s Going On
  • Watts Prophets: Pain
  • BB King: Every Day I Have the Blues
  • Marvin Gaye: Soldier’s Plea
  • Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)
  • Save the Children
  • Curtis Mayfield: We Got To Have Peace
  • Save The Children
  • Wholy Holy
  • Flyin’ High (In The Friendly Sky)
  • James Brown: King Heroin
  • Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)
  • What’s Going On

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find there

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In this episode...

Guests

  • Father Amde

About the show

Hosted by Oliver Wang and Morgan Rhodes, every episode of Heat Rocks invites a special guest to talk about a heat rock – a hot album, a scorching record. These are in-depth conversations about the albums that shape our lives.

Our guests include musicians, writers, and scholars and though we don’t exclusively focus on any one genre, expect to hear about albums from the worlds of soul, hip-hop, funk, jazz, Latin, and more.

New episodes every Thursday on Apple Podcasts or whatever you get your podcasts.

Subscribe to our website updates for exclusive bonus content (including extra interview segments, mini-episodes, etc.)

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