Marvin Gaye, The National Anthem

Soul week grooves on with part 84 of my youtube countdown.  Today I have Marvin Gaye, the Prince of Soul, singing “The National Anthem” at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game.  For my money, this is the greatest National Anthem ever, slightly better than Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelic Woodstock performance.  Marvin managed to turn the normally stuffy and militaristic anthem into a smooth soul jam complete with the most seductive beat and vocal delivery ever achieved for the song.  There is just too much to love about this video.  I love the way he sexualizes the song, driving every woman in the crowd absolutely crazy.  I love the way the NBA arena reflects off his large sunglasses.  Most of all, I love the way he squeezes all that emotion from his performance to the point where he looks like he is going to cry.  The most amazing feat of the song is that Marvin’s version somehow reflects the entire history of cultural cool that America has produced in its history, not just its military glory and political power.  It’s almost a personal anthem, reflecting Marvin’s sad yet sexy soul.  Whatever it is, its a pure wonder, and an essential listening experience.  Enjoy.  Oh, PS, expect more Marvin this week.

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