Celebrating the year that protest music popped
Marvin Gaye’s 1971 conceptual masterwork What’s Going On? is as cohesive a statement of political and social dissatisfaction as has ever been recorded. Hearing Gaye at the height of his power decrying war (“What’s Happening Brother”), poverty (“Inner City Blues”), and the environmental crisis (“Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”) will hopefully never lose its considerable healing power. As we near the end of 2014, however, we should note the many musicians who saw fit to record their own statements against the current state of affairs. Only decades of repeated listening will tell whether any of these songs can hang with Gaye’s finest, but here, in no specific order, are a few of the songs we’re listening to these days, as we try to figure out just what the hell’s going on.