What Millennials Should Know About… Marvin Gaye’s ‘Here, My Dear’

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/ June 3, 2014

To celebrate Black Music Month, VIBE spotlights some of music’s most essential timepieces for Gen Y to get hip to

MARVIN GAYE
Here, My Dear (1978)

Most Slept On: There are several stand-outs on Marvin Gaye’s deeply personal testimony of a marriage descending into its final heartbreaking, bitter, and angry end. But as you dig deeper inside this surreal 1978 masterpiece that is Here, My Dear, you will find the criminally underrated cut “Time to Get it Together,” a funked-up number that sticks out amongst the brooding statements of Here, My Dear. Originally written and recorded in 1976, the self-dissecting track finds Gaye trying to work through his own personal demons of drug abuse and womanizing. “Trying my best to find my way,” he testifies. “Change our world in just one day/Blowin’ coke all up my nose/Gettin’ in and out my clothes/Foolin’ ’round with midnight ho’s/But that chapter of life’s closed.” Stunning.

Lines Best For Status Updates:
-“I guess I’d have to say this album is dedicated to you/Although perhaps you may not be happy.” (“Here, My Dear”)

-“If you ever loved me with all of your heart, you’d never take a million dollars to part.” (“When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You”)

-“Somebody tell me please, tell me please/Why do I have to pay attorney fees (My baby’s) Attorney fees…This is a joke/I need a smoke.” (“Is That Enough”)

-“That young girl is going to cost you/If you want happiness you got to pay.” (“You Can Leave, But It’s Going To Cost You”)

-“Memories haunt you all the time, I will never leave, you’re mine…” (“When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You (Reprise)”

Bet You Didn’t Know: For their politically-incorrect lean anthem “Sippin’ On Some Syrup“, Three Six Mafia (feat. UGK/Project Pat) sampled “Is That Enough.”

Synopsis: Initially rejected by the public, Here, My Dear has since taken on mythical standing amongst musicologists, critics, artists and longtime fans of Marvin Gaye. This was a long playing document that did little to hide the pain and anguish of an imploding relationship. Initially, the work was recorded to help fund the $1 million Gaye owed to his wife Anna Ruby Gordy in alimony. Gaye’s plan was simple. He would purposely make a lackluster, dog of a record just to spite his ex. “Why would I break my neck when Anna was going to wind up with the money anyway,” the legendary vocalist said in his 1983 biography Divided Soul–The Life of Marvin Gaye. “But the more I lived with the notion, the more it fascinated me. Finally, I did the record out of deep passion. It became an obsession.”

Here, My Dear has been described as the quintessential divorce album. And while there have been other releases that have explored the the raw aftermath of a union becoming undone (most notably Bob Dylan’s celebrated 1975 comeback release Blood On The Tracks), the flesh-and-bones recording is the measuring stick for all to reach. The title track itself leaves nothing to the imagination: “You don’t have the right to use the son of mine to keep me in line,” he pleads. “One thing I can’t do without is the boy whom God gave to both of us.” Records like the doo-wop heavy “I Met A Little Girl,” the thematic “When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You” and the melancholy “Anna’s Song” were at once cringe-worthy, bravely executed, and thrilling.

Indeed, it has taken some years for Here, My Dear to get its proper due as an artistic landmark. 30 plus years later, Nas took Gaye’s vision into the hip-hop realm with the critically-acclaimed 2012 work Life Is Good. R. Kelly drew inspiration from Here, My Dear on his cathartic (and more hopeful) set Love Letter. And Mos Def included “Anna’s Love Song,” a reworking of the Here, My Dear track, on this year’s Marvin/Mos mashup Yasiin Gaye. But the most unlikely cultural co-sign came from a 2010 television commercial. When actress Charlize Theron boldly strutted across the screen for a Dior J’Adore perfume spot it was to the melody of Here, My Dear’s sensual, pimped-out groove “A Funky Space Reincarnation.” Just more proof that sometimes we all have to catch up to genius. —Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)