11.05.2008

Marvin Gaye sings the National Anthem

My friend Eddie sent me this morning a clip of Marvin Gaye singing the National Anthem:



This seems so appropriate to hear and watch this morning - not just for the obvious "Hey look, black president... Hey look, black dude singing national anthem with soul... Isn't that great?"

Marvin Gaye was one of the most fervent American civil rights protesters we've seen. His songs were moving, sentimental, and touching... But they were something else. They were angry. What's Going On? Is one of the angriest albums I've ever heard - but you don't realize it the first, oh, twenty times you listen to it. It's only when you start really hearing those words he says so passionately that you realize, he's fighting for a better society; a society which was distinctly American.

When he sang this in 1983, The Cosby Show wasn't even on tv yet. We were a white-dominated nation, even the NBA - where he's singing this song - was still majority white. And as a civil rights fighter, he came out and he put his own style to the original arrangement, so as to say "Hey, America... You've got some soul in your belly, no matter how hard you try to fight it. You won't keep it down. It's gonna come out."

I wish Marvin Gaye, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Hosea Williams, W.E.B. Dubois, and many other freedom fighters who made this day possible could have seen it happen. I'd love to sit down with John Lewis - not interview style, but more like morning coffee style - and just hear what he has to say about this day.