Though it was designed to function as the theme to a black action film, "Trouble Man" is of such high quality that many soul fans consider it to be one of Marvin Gaye's finest recordings. The lyrics are the autobiographical chronicle of man who has "come up hard" but has developed the kind of cool mindset necessary to make it on the mean streets. His philosophy is summed up by the couplet "There's only three things that's for sure/Taxes, death, and trouble." Although these lyrics fit the iconography of a blaxploitation film hero they were just as applicable to Gaye's troubled life, which veered back and forth between life-affirming artistry and life-threatening temptations. The music distills the cool feel of the lyrics by avoiding a conventional verse/chorus structure in favor of a jazzy melody that occasionally speeds up for scat-styled sections but otherwise grooves along in a sultry, hypnotic style. Marvin Gaye's recording of "Trouble Man" plays up the song's seductive quality with a subtle but mesmerizing arrangement that is equal parts jazz and psychedelia: after a few jazzy but hard-hitting drum rolls, a sparse backing consisting of chilly strings, a staccato two-note piano line, and periodic bursts of swinging horns is introduced. Gaye lays down a stunning vocal over the top, capturing the mixture of self-detached cool and anger in the lyrics with a performance that switches back and forth between a creamy falsetto and a gospel growl. The result fulfilled the needs of a film theme but had enough originality and artistry to stand on its own merits. As a result, "Trouble Man" became a major crossover hit for Gaye, becoming a Top Five hit on the R&B charts and a Top Ten hit on the pop charts. It remains a favorite with Marvin Gaye fans and soundtrack aficionados today thanks to its combination of stunning vocals and a moody melody.