Marvin Gaye - "What's going on"

Until this, Marvin Gaye rarely participated in the songwriting process. For the first time, he took control of the production so he could make a statement as an artist. Motown (the record label) hated the idea, but Gaye was an established star and had enough power to pull it off. And he pulled it off indeed.
Mel Farr and Lem Barney were acquaintances Gaye had made during his failed 1970 tryout for the football team the Detroit Lions. Mel Farr : "One day after Lem, Marvin and I played golf, we went back to Marvin's house on Outer Drive in Detroit. We'd hit the ball especially good that day and we were all feeling good, sitting around and kibitzing, when I said, 'Hey, what's going on?' Marvin said, 'You know, that'd be a hip title for a song. I think I'll write it for the Originals.'" Gaye started fooling at the piano and, when Renaldo "Obie" Benson of the Four Tops and songwriter Al Cleveland dropped by to see him the next day, he was still fooling with it.
In truth, Marvin didn't initiate the music himself, the title just being a start for a song. As was often the case, he relied on others to help him break his frequent writer's block. Benson and Clevland wrote an initial rough version of the song, which Gaye took and collaborated with them to finish. When the song was completed, Gaye planned to produce it as a single for The Originals, but Benson and Clevland convinced Gaye to record it himself.
On the finished track, a party can be heard going on in the background, from which Gaye's voice is purposefully detached. Gaye had Barney and Farr, amongst others, singing background. Later on, Motown convinced Gaye to re-record "What's Going On" with a group of professional background singers. But it didn't sound as natural as the original, and Gaye kept the first version.
The song "What's going on" was completed before the rest of the album was finished. Motown chief Berry Gordy tried to block the release of the single, deeming it "uncommercial", but after Gaye threatened to cease recording, Gordy reluctantly relented. "What's Going On" proved to be a substantial commercial hit.
Notably for this record, Gaye sang both lead and background vocals himself, essentially creating what is now recognized as modern-day multitracking. The process had been used for many years to give parts of a recording extra strength, but Gaye took it one step further and sung each of his vocal passes in various harmony parts, creating an ethereal sound that became his trademark.
Available on the album also called "What's Going On"