Legendary Artist – The Soul Songs of Marvin Gaye

“If you want to reach people, you’ve got to give them a taste of themselves.” – Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye was one of the most technically gifted male vocalists in soul. He is up there on top of the list with Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and Curtis Mayfield.

His best dance song  is probably “Got to Give it Up”.  Here he is performing it on dance pop TV show Soul Train.

One of the most brilliant soul singers had one of the saddest stories in music history. Marvin Gaye was only 45 when he was shot and killed by his crossdressing preacher father during an argument at their family home in Los Angeles in 1984.  Marvin’s father believed that his son’s work was “the devil’s music”. The song “Trouble Man” says it all.

Marvin was not only talented but in his youth was business-savvy. He worked his way up at the Motown record label, and married the boss’s sister.

I’ve always admired the completely unique soul-pop texture on Marvin’s “Heard it Through the Gravevine”. This song is a true story of his wife cheating on him. And he and Gladys Knight both hit the charts with it in the late 60s. Here’s incredible footage of both of them singing it together.

The full-length What’s Going On was Marvin’s political masterpiece. He called out to all the races to work together. The label executives had never heard anything like it and one of them actually threw the recording in the trash can. Marvin fought for the release and it was the most successful of all of Motown’s releases.

This year is the 4oth anniversary of the 1972 release What’s Going On. And the lyrics to the title song are still relevant today.

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today – Ya

Father, father
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today

Here’s Marvin Gaye performing it live in 1977.

After falling in love with a very young girl, Marvin began the downslide of drugs and depression that would continue until the end.

But it was right here as he teetered on the edge that he wrote one of the sexiest love songs of all time.  Here’s Marvin in his prime singing “Let’s Get It On” on Soul Train in 1974. The song is one of his – and soul music’s – finest moments.

For more on Marvin Gaye check out the documentary film Marvin Gaye; Behind the Legend.

Tune in to DJ Michele Myers Friday nights at 9pm on KEXP 90.3FM Seattle, kexp.org. Music historian and producer, Michele’s made over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries. She’s also written scripts, lesson plans and features for Experience Music Projectthe University of Washington and NPR.

Categories: dance, music history, soul, videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Legendary Artist – The Soul Songs of Marvin Gaye

  1. Pingback: Mayer Hawthorne: Stream The Soul Artist’s Best Songs and New Release | Soulful Alternative

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