Marvin Gaye, 1939-1984

MarvinGayeThe absurd death of Marvin Gaye, at the hands of his father, a day shy of his 45th birthday, always saddens me in early April. He would have been 75 today, but instead was killed 30 years ago yesterday.

Here are twenty-one songs, all linked here, some multiple times, and with different spellings. My list is more or less in preference order, though I’m sure I left off something obvious. The citations refer to its Billboard pop charts zenith, and the year:

21. The Star-Spangled Banner – a controversial version performed at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game
20. Yesterday – WAY too many covers of this Beatles song, yet this is one I like
19. Let’s Get It On (1, 1973)
18. Got to Give It Up (1, 1977)
17. I’ll Be Doggone (8, 1965)
16. Pride And Joy (10, 1963)

15. You’re All I Need to Get By (with Tammi Terrell) (7, 1968)
14. Your Unchanging Love (33, 1967)
13. I Heard It Through the Grapevine (1, 1968) – this might have fared better on my list if I had not burned out on it in the Big Chill period. BTW, Yahoo! Voices wrote: “The song became so popular in fact, that numerous artists have re-recorded their own renditions, not that any of them can compare to the original.” WRONG: It was NOT the original. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles recorded it earlier, though Berry Gordy put the kibosh on its release. Then Gladys Knight and the Pips went to #2 with it the year before Marvin’s version went to #1.
12. It Takes Two (with Kim Weston) (14, 1967)
11. Mercy Mercy Me (4, 1971) – the ecology is more threatened now than it was then…

10. Sexual Healing (3, 1983) – his last big hit, after he had moved from Motown to Columbia
9. Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing (with Tammi Terrell) (8, 1968)
8. What’s Going On (2, 1971)
7. Hitch Hike (30, 1963)
6. Ain’t That Peculiar (8, 1965)

5. Stubborn Kind Of Fellow (46, 1962) – and he was, in his dealings with Berry Gordy and others
4. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (with Tammi Terrell) (19, 1967)
3. Piece Of Clay – never heard this song until I found it on the soundtrack to the 1996 movie Phenomenon
Father stop criticizing your son
Mother please leave your daughters alone
Don’t you see that’s what wrong
With the world with world today
Everybody wants somebody
To be their own piece of clay

2. Inner City Blues (9, 1971) – STILL makes me want to holler, throw up both my hands…
1. Can I Get a Witness (22, 1963)
This is an interesting listen: A Tribute To The Great Nat King Cole by Marvin Gaye. All links are correct, except #2, which is neither the song (On the street where you live NOT Ramblin’ Rose), or the artist (sung by someone named Eugene Butcher) listed.

4 thoughts on “Marvin Gaye, 1939-1984”

  1. Never could pick out my favorite Marvin Gaye number, though “I’ll Be Doggone,” “What’s Going On” and “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” have to rank near the top.


  2. One of my favorites. As I’ve been going through my chronological music project, Gaye’s albums were always a delight. What’s Going On is one of my all time favorites. Sadly, I’m up to 1984 now and won’t be hearing any that I’ve never heard before…


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