Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

Album: What's Going On (1971)
Charted: 9
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Songfacts®:

  • Marvin Gaye recorded a string of hit love songs in the '60s, which were usually written by Motown songwriters. In the early '70s, he took control of his career and began writing and performing songs with a more socially conscious message. Gaye grew up in Washington, DC before moving to Detroit in 1960. This song deals with the poverty and hopelessness people living in the ghettos of urban America often felt. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Gaye gave James Nyx a songwriting credit on this as well as "What's Going On." Nyx was a longtime friend of Gaye who helped him organize and arrange his songs.
  • "Inner City Blues" was covered by four artists/groups in 1972 alone: Grover Washington Jr., Sarah Vaughan, The Chi-Lites and The Impressions. John Mayer covered the song on his 2004 live album, As/Is. Mayer credits hits like "Waiting On The World To Change" as being rooted in the tradition of Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield.
  • This was used in the soundtrack of the 2007 film Zodiac.
  • "Inner City Blues" was featured in the HBO Sports Documentary A City on Fire: The Story of the '68 Detroit Tigers. Gaye was loyal to Detroit teams and even wanted to become a professional football player with the Lions in 1970 after the death of his singing partner Tammi Terrell left him depressed and confused about his role in the music industry. The singer had never played football before in his life, but he was confident he could become just as big a star on the field as he was in the recording studio. Former Lions cornerback Lem Barney told the LA Times of Coach Joe Schmidt's first interaction with the newly bulked-up Gaye: "If I could sing like you, I certainly wouldn't want to play football," he had said. With the weight of Gaye's music career also resting on the tryout, Schmidt decided the singer was too much of a liability.

    Would-be teammates Barney and running back Mel Farr provided backing vocals on subsequent, politically charged hit "What's Going On."

Comments: 8

  • Jordan from Omaha, Nebeautiful song. shows the horrors of reality in its time. weird how not alot has changed since then though.
  • Dave from Rockford, IlMarvin was greatly troubled by the Viet Nam War. He had a brother and friends from Detroit that had served and begun to return home. "What's Going On" , (note the abesent question mark)was to be a suite, a compostion that was directed to one sinuglar idea. Barry Gordon would not allow Marvin to record it at Motown; thus, Marvin recorded it on his own, with his own money, and he slipped it by Gordy. Not until it became a hit with the title track did Gordy capitulate.
  • David from Reading, EnglandI really like Sevendust's cover of this; the singer seems to have captured the feeling of the song well, particularly during the "make me wanna holler" part.
  • Larry from New York City, Ny"Inner City Blues" is a realistic song about the enforced poverty and brutality so many Americans must endure in this the richest country in the history of the world, all the while watching their children being used as cannon fodder in foreign wars or succumbing to a culture of ignorance and criminality at home. This song is a strange companion to the fantasy song "Trouble Man," also by sung by Marvin Gaye. "Trouble Man" is the theme song for movie, an urban crime drama, in which a black anit-hero (played compellingly by Robert Hooks) uses brutality and guile to successfully overcome all the exploitative societal traps bemoaned in Marvin Gaye's song "Inner City Blues."
  • Mel from Riverbank, CaI dedicate this song to the Republican party..
  • Yos from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republicyup, if they kept the beat going for about 30 seconds more
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaGreat song. As with all Marvin Gaye's songs, I wish it lasted longer, to keep that aura going.
  • Konstantin from San Marcos, TxMy favourite song by Gaye. Even better than whats going on simply becuase of the way it sounds.
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