“The sexiest record Motown has ever produced”
In 1973, Marvin Gaye released a song that sold two million copies just in six weeks after the release and became the second best selling song of 1973. It was sexual, it was emotional and Gaye’s voice was hypnotizing.
Whenever one hears “Let’s Get it On,” one starts wandering with dreamy eyes and starts looking for a person who could take all the love one has to pour out to the world – infatuation comes straight from Gaye’s voice but also the words of the song do not make it easier to think about something else than sensuality. At the end of the live performances, Gaye emphasized the overwhelming effect, when he started whispering loudly the words of the song, repeating just the most sensual phrases.
The context of the song is purely sexual but the song is really about love that is pure, yet very exciting. How can one not get under the influence of Gaye, when he is seducing: “There’s nothin wrong with me; Lovin you’ And givin yourself to me can never be wrong;If the love is true.”
“Let’s Get it On,” mixing soul and funk, was produced together with Ed Townsed and was released on June 15, 1973 by Tamla Records – a label being a subsidiary of Motown. The Funk Brothers provided the instrumentation. It did not only become the record selling single for Motown (it was Motown that noticed Gaye at one of the clubs he was playing with his band), but also one of the best-known songs Gaye has ever produced – definitely his signature single that brought him the title of ‘sex icon’ of the times.
Mr. Perfectionist, as Gaye used to call himself, and his infatuating song, came along very well as far as the image is concerned. The song is using simple words, but triggers vivid images. The music, but also the emotions it evokes, are centered on Gaye’s voice. As Jon Landau of the Rolling Stone states, the song “begins with three great wah-wah notes that herald the arrival of a vintage Fifties melody,” but “above all, it has Marvin Gaye’s best singing at its center, fine background voices on the side, and a long, moody fade-out that challenges you not to play the cut again.”
“Let’s Get it On” was a huge success for Gaye, who reached the peak of his career performing for no less than $100,00 a night. He earned a lot, accomplished even more, but also was troubled with depression, drug overdose and family problems. At the age of forty-four, after releasing 25 studio albums, he came back to live with his parents. During one of the heated arguments, his own father, who introduced him to music in the very beginning, shot Gaye. He died at the scene.
Gaye was recognized after his death numerously. Even his former labels, Motown and Columbia, cooperated to create the album including the unreleased songs of Gaye.
No matter what, the fans will always remember him, daydreaming and seducing in “Let’s Get it On.”
Landau, Jon. “Let’s Get it On.” Music Review. The Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/lets-get-it-on-19731206
“Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye. Super Seventies. http://www.superseventies.com/1973_5singles.html.
Marvin Gaye Website. http://www.marvingayepage.net