MARVIN GAYE / “Inner City Blues”

This entry was posted on Sunday, June 26th, 2005 at 12:01 am and is filed under Classic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “MARVIN GAYE / “Inner City Blues””

Anita Says:
June 20th, 2005 at 2:28 am

Hi Kalamu,

This is a really nice site! Glad to see Marvin Gaye!

In spite of what the author says, Marvin charted every year from 1962 to 1979, with the exception of the year 1975. (There was a gap after the last charted song ‘Distant Lover’ #15 on Sept 28, 1974 until April 24 1976 ‘I Want You’ which went to #15.) Then in 1982 ‘Sexual Healing’ (Columbia records) #3 Oct 1982+.

It was very common for artists to cut tracks and have the producer shelve them because they didn’t like ’em and didn’t think they were good enough..until many months later. Pressing and distribution costs and keeping a close watch on what tunes were selling were all taken into consideration very seriously! Other costs (greasing DJs we won’t mention).

Incidentally, Marvin was a sessions drummer for Motown before he recorded under his own name in 1961. He was also a member of The Marquees and The Rainbows and then The Moonglows. He married Berry Gordy’s sister, Anna (you may remember the ‘Anna’ Record label run by Billy Davis and Gwen Gordy in Detroit..or maybe not!).

Anyway, just thought you’d want to know. Marvin’s death was a huge loss!

Thank you!


* * * Mtume says: Speaking of Anna Gordy, my favorite Marvin Gaye album is Here, My Dear, a 2-LP set of spite, vitriol, incrimination and recrimination that Marvin was court-ordered to record in order to pay Anna’s $1,000,000 divorce settlement. Under similar circumstances, the average musician would’ve recorded a quick collection of filler and forgotten about the whole thing. Not Marvin. Here, My Dear is a 14-song break-up letter set to the most melancholy funk you’ve ever heard. It’s an opening argument, a cross examination, a closing argument, a conviction and a sentencing hearing, all in one. It’s strange and savage and petty and pretty and — given Marvin’s stature at that time as a major pop star — damn near unbelievable. Sample lyrics: “Could someone tell me, please / Why do I have to pay attorney fees? / This is a joke / I need a smoke.” Classic, classic Marvin. * * *

Dylan Says:
June 26th, 2005 at 10:26 am

Wow, a fantastic site you guys have put together here. I can’t wait to be a regular reader!

I just wanted to add my brief 2 cents and say that the live version of “What’s Goin On” on that Deluxe Edition is simply MIND BLOWING. That has to be one of the best live vocal performances I’ve ever heard, with Marvin’s voice diving up and down between the album vocal and some creative harmony vocals. I used to manage a record store and every time that version came on, heads turned and special orders were made by the truckload.

Thanks for your site. Great work.

Jarvis Says:
June 27th, 2005 at 4:28 pm


It disturbs me the extent to which I like “Here, My Dear.” Makes me feel like a bastard just for liking it. Let me correct that, for loving it! “What I can’t understand is if you love me, how could you / turn me in to the police?” Has there ever been a more self-centered piece of music that’s, as you suggest, so incredibly funky? Man. Just the arrogance it takes to record that whole thing.

Listening to the recording one gets the impression that Marvin could have used the help of a therapist, but I’m big enough to admit that I’m selfish. I’m glad he didn’t go to a shrink before he did this album. Because he says all those things we want to say to our exes, he’s as petty as we all want to be, and even as he sings “Hallelujah, I’m free,” he’s still presenting her with the song he always promised her. Lots of artists SAY that they’re conflicted in their songs and on their albums, but I don’t know that anybody else has shown it the way he did on “Here, My Dear.”

I’ve always been jealous of his passion, his ability to say it all — regardless of propriety.

– Jarvis

khomotso Says:
June 29th, 2005 at 3:24 am

As far as black music goes …Marvin is king and even generations from now …marvin will still be the man

arthur flowers Says:
June 30th, 2005 at 4:56 am

when whats going on came out

i had just gotten back from vietnam
and it was like marvin wrote it specially for me

i can remember what i was doing and everything happening in my life at that moment

i was laying on a floor at a party in memphis
and somebody put on whats going on and
i was transfixed and moved into another dimension

all my life ive lived music, and i dont think ive ever been moved by a work like that first time i heard whats going on

not only was it like speaking to me personally as a returning vet having had been what we called in vietnam, blackinized, but that seamless concept quality of it took me to another world and didnt let go until that final haunting note, i can remember that moment like it was yesterday

i always enjoy reading about what marvin endured to make that album, that faith he had in his musical vision, i find that inspiring as an artist

not only did it touch and transform me personally but i think its one of, if not the best, album ever

in struggle

Rudy Says:
July 2nd, 2005 at 3:54 pm

On the Retake. Initially I thought in the first several bars or so either he or the band or both were out of tune. It seemed to smooth out as they went on. But then he decided to go back.

There are some songs just can’t be covered. His daughters’s (Nona’s) effort captures some of the passion of her father. But Marvin is so powerful though at times singing falsetto. He just keeps changing the tonal qualities of his voice. That a kind of dynamic is generated. The Gil-Scott version doesn’t work for me. Their styles are just too far apart. I did not like his rendition at all, though I thought it an interesting failure.

Marvin is the man and so it all goes down hill from there. I’m looking forward to what’s next.


Darrell Martin Says:
October 12th, 2005 at 12:08 pm

I would like to know what was Marvin Gaye thinking when he wrote the song Mercy Mercy Me.

The song is a very powerful with lots of evironmental issues and meaning.

Jan Gaye Says:
October 8th, 2007 at 10:35 pm

Thanks for your comments about my ex-husband and my daughter…lovely.

jay Says:
July 21st, 2008 at 7:44 pm

what is the name of the song were he says " I need a smoke, this aint no joke"?

          Mtume says           

Your quote’s not exactly right, but the song is "Is That Enough" from Here, My Dear.


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