The inner city blues

September 18, 2014

“Oh, make you wanna holler, The way they do my life” Those are some of the lyrics sung by Marvin Gaye in the song entitled “Inner City Blues.” It became one of his three top selling singles on the “What Going On” album in 1971. The song full title was “Inner City Blues (Make me wanna holler)” and was the last song on the album. It was recorded in September of 1971 and soon reached the top of the Billboard charts. Like a number of songs recorded in the late 60’s and early 70’s, it too was able to capture the mood of the nation. As a nation, we were still in a war (Vietnam), coping with an economic crisis, fighting high unemployment, living with civic unrest, mistrust of policing; rising taxes, poor housing, lack of quality health care, and escalating crime. Additionally, we were working our way back from the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., major city riots, marches, draft dodgers, urban blight and an expanding social service network. Those were tough times and a lot of people who lived through those days have not forgotten the cost, pain and suffering that they and their families endured. Trying to find a way to heal, move forward or just to survive took real acts of courage and faith. And just like a page from history, Gaye’s song resonates and speaks volumes of what most Americans feel today in 2014. You can’t make this stuff up. This “stuff ” just makes you want to “holler.” Marvin Gaye’s song covers it all… “inflation, bills piling up, send boys off to die, hang ups, let downs, bad breaks, setbacks, can’t pay my taxes, throw up both of my hands, crime increasing, trigger happy policing, panic is spreading, and God knows where we’re heading.” At the end of the song, Marvin closes out with a reference to a higher power. He goes on to say… “God bless you and the Lord keep you, and may you live, live, live a good life… God bless you, Lord keep you and may you live, live, live a long, long sweet life, … don’t let the things get you down, hold your hands, baby, walk around… Say God bless you and I’ll keep you, I’m praying a prayer for each and every one of you… Heaven bless
you.” It is truly amazing that this song from the 1970’s has a place with us today. In so many ways this song continues to speak to us today and echoes our “inner city blues.” What do you think or holler back? Dr. Andrew Calhoun, can be contacted at, Twitter #AC53, or call 414-571-5015. You can hear Dr. Calhoun each Sunday at Grace Fellowship Church, 3879 N. Port Washington Rd. Milwaukee.