“What’s Happening Brother” is a song written by James Nyx, Jr. and Marvin Gaye, produced by Gaye and issued on the soul singer’s acclaimed 1971 album, What’s Going On. The song started off the song cycle that began with a man returning home from fighting in the Vietnam War only to discover that his world is abstractly different from what it used to be before he left for duty. In Marvin’s case, the song was dedicated to his younger brother, Frankie, who was returning from a three-year duty at Vietnam, in essence, Marvin later told interviews that Frankie’s experience in Vietnam inspired him to collaborate on the songs for the What’s Going On project. Throughout this song, Marvin mentions in his brother’s third person about the nightclub, about whether or not his baseball team would “win the pennant” and wonders how his friend has been which brings upon the question, “what’s happening brother?” Musically the song follows the same path as “What’s Going On” and features The Andantes as background vocalists.
Marvin’s song echoes the streets from Harlem to Hollywood (like you should) and the globe. As we celebrate July 4th, we look back 30 years, an realize how far we have come and how much we have to do.
Sing it Marvin.