By the '70s, Motown artist Marvin Gaye was bored with "the Sound of Young America." When he wanted to go more in the direction of message music, label founder Berry Gordy wasn't pleased. It didn't help matters that Gaye had a reputation around the label of being "difficult," making him somewhat of a pariah among the talent pool. One of the key tracks for Gaye's new musical path was a song that was co-written by Four Tops member Renaldo Benson and Motown staff songwriter Al Cleveland. As Gaye worked on the song that would become "What's Going On," he angrily reflected on the stories told to him by his brother Frankie Gaye who was a Vietnam vet. The melancholy alto sax line was blown by Eli Fountain and, like the song itself, it seemed as a kind of aligned signal that the upbeat '60s were giving way to the more pessimistic '70s.