Critically panned upon its’ initial release, Marvin Gaye’s ode to divorce Here, My Dear has now come to be known as a genius album. Ummmm, huh? Now, there is no argument from me that Gaye is an immense talent. Arguably, the best R&B crooner of all time, but this album is, for lack of a better term, weird. This is unfortunate, because the story behind this album is so wonderfully tragic that I want this album to be the best thing I have ever heard.
Upon their divorce in 1975, Marvin Gaye and Anna Gordy (sister to legendary label owner Berry Gordy) came to an agreement where Gaye would kill two birds with one expensive stone. Berry Gordy was pressing Gaye for an album and Anna wanted paid. Seeing as how Gaye had been getting it on and having two children with another woman, I don’t blame her. Ultimately, it was agreed upon that Gaye would write the album that would later become Here, My Dear and that the album’s advance and the first $300,000 of its’ earnings would go to his ex-wife. Gaye agreed to these terms fully intending to write a piece of shit record just to appease the Gordy clan, but then Gaye’s emotions (as well as his artistic pride) got in the way. The album developed into something that ran the spectrum of emotion ranging from rage to bitterness to genuine heartache. The artist was unsure if he even wanted to release the deeply personal album. Eventually, he did, but only after having his ex-wife listen to it. She was less than ecstatic.
I was very harsh on this album the first few times I listened to it. It may be due to the fact that Gaye disregarded most pop conventions when constructing these songs. Half the songs don’t appear to even include a hook or chorus. Instead, the album presents itself as some form of R&B/Jazz fusion record. The uniqueness of the album and Gaye’s masterful voice began to grow on me, but ultimately I feel this album falls way short of such a high accolade. Ultimately, the same things that I love about this album are its’ downfall. Gaye’s heartfelt lyrics tug at the listeners’ heartstrings, at times, but these same lyrics also provide some awkward sarcasm and lyrical pitfalls. I’m not going to go into each song and dissect them as I sometimes do. Instead, I’ll leave it at this. If you are a true fan of Marvin, you may love this album (even though as I stated before this album was slammed upon its’ release). If you are not a fan in the same vein, you may want to pass on this album. I definitely think it is worth a listen, but am not read to give my approval on its’ inclusion on this list.
This isn’t from this album, but a Hawaiian playing Marvin on ukulele is worth it.
-the fat man