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Monday, March 23, 2015

Marvin Gaye -- Here, My Dear

 photo 220px-Marvinhere-my-dear_zpsdyvuivqw.jpg

People didn't know what to make of Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear in 1978, so they panned it. People don't know what to make of it now, so they praise it. Here, My Dear is Marvin's oddball record, an 80-minute concept album about his divorce from his first wife, Anna. Five songs top the six minute mark, with a handful of others coming close. Melody is not highly valued; confession is. Marvin is blatant about his feelings, even when he is feeling pitiable and selfish. The lyrics are literal (from "Is That Enough"):

You got a flair for style
and the style is all the while
What could I do
The judge said she got to keep on living
the way she accustomed to
She trying to break a man
I don't understand
Somebody tell me please, tell me please
Why do I have to pay attorney fees (My baby's)
Attorney fees (Ooh baby)
This is a joke
I need a smoke
Wait a minute

And yet, Marvin stills finds the time to include an eight-minute sex-journey through space ("A Funky Space Reincarnation") which includes the lines:

Let's razzmattazz and all that jazz
Let's touch each other
Let's touch each other's ass

This ain't no masterpiece. Despite the wide range of lyrical insanity, though, most of Here, My Dear's 80 minutes is a soothingly calm ocean of music, in the dead of night, where you float, blindfolded. Despite the stress it was created under, the actual sonic experience of Here, My Dear's music is densely comforting. Where Marvin's going to take you next, nobody knows, not even him, and it's his problem, not yours.
Yes, Here, My Dear is weird. Most of the time, mainly when Marvin throws that grit into his voice and lets the sax wail, it's great. Sometimes, when Marvin is being petty, and so self-focused it's like he even forgot to write a song, it's not. But who has ever released an album like this before? Who is ever going to release an album like this again? I mean, the court told Marvin that his wife would get half the royalties from his next album, so he titled it Here, My Dear.
This is Marvin Gaye at his most vulnerable, more honest than ever, both more and less likable. Considering Here, My Dear is the work of a musical master, even if it is his overindulgent oddball, it is worth checking out, and at least making a day of. With repeat listens, the genius therein exposes itself more and more, even if it has too ooze from between some pretty gnarly emotional and musical architecture.

1978 Tamla
1. Here, My Dear 2:48
2. I Met a Little Girl 5:03
3. When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You 6:17
4. Anger 4:04
5. Is That Enough 7:47
6. Everybody Needs Love 5:48
7. Time to Get It Together 3:55
8. Sparrow 6:12
9. Anna's Song 5:56
10. When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You (Instrumental) 6:03
11. A Funky Space Reincarnation 8:18
12. You Can Leave, but It's Going to Cost You 5:32
13. Falling in Love Again 4:39
14. When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You (Reprise) 0:47

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