Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Marvin Gaye -- Let's Get It On
In high school, I had a pretty good intro to any question any teacher ever had for me about mankind, or people in general: "Well, we're all sensitive people, with so much to give..." I thought it was brilliant, but for some reason, none of the kids in my class got the joke. Starting off any response to a teacher with lyrics from a song about getting it on called "Let's Get It On," from an album called Let's Get It On, about, exclusively, getting it on, is pretty brilliant, though. This was not the only positive quality of mine that my fellow students at False River Academy did not appreciate. Moving out of the 90's and into 2015, Let's Get It On is just as timeless a collection of music as it was in 1973, the year it was released, except probably still to students at False River Academy, even though, according to teenage birthrates, they should be well versed.
Let's Get It On starts off with the titular track, and if you've never heard the song before, you've got to remedy that issue...you've got to get it on. Let's Get It On is a rapturous song that is about sex, yet could buoy the spirits of...man, I don't know, like a eunuch or some person that isn't interested in sex or something. I mean, when I was 16 and poking fun at my teachers, I was most definitely interested in sex (not with my teachers...), but most definitely not getting any, yet listening to Let's Get It On made me feel like I could climb to the top of a mountain, then throw that mountain into the sea, if not for the fact that I was then feeling so much goodwill that all I wanted to do was hug the mountain instead.
Let's Get It On is just one of those perfect, vibe-bettering songs. I don't think describing the song in any sort of technical fashion would help because it is 4:44 of pure feeling. If you aren't feeling it by the time Marvin pulls out his falsetto after that cathartic moment 3:50 into the song, you might as well just throw this album in the trash. You might also want to have your pulse checked by a professional...pulse checker.
The rest of Let's Get It On is awesome, too. Side one and two of the original record function as two separate, but spiritually connected suites. "Let's Get It On" flows into the gorgeous, longing, one-two punch of "Please Stay (Once You Go Away)" and "If I Should Die Tonight." After those two, side one closes with a reprise of the title track, called "Keep Gettin It On," literally urging people to not stop gettin' it on. No, I'm serious:
Oh Jesus, tryna tell the people
To come on and get it on, yes Lord
That's from the song's final verse, revealing the spiritual aspect to Marvin's quest to get everybody to stop warring and start getting it on.
I've heard people say that Marvin had to separate the spiritual from the sexual, but no he didn't because he is asking God for assistance throughout this whole album to help get the people to stop warring and start getting it on. I mean, I just said that. While younger Marvin faced a sort of sexual crisis due to his father's religious overbearing, sometimes unable to perform, older Marvin eventually reconciled the spiritual and the sexual. He even calls the sex he is having on "Let's Get It On," "sanctified," and assures "it isn't wrong." Maybe that's why this album is so euphoric. I don't know. Marvin was an oxymoron, an anachronism not belonging to any time. His religion was key to him, even as the person who taught it to him, his father, was his lifelong antagonist, and eventually his murderer. In a way, Let's Get It Onand its follow-up, I Want You, are direct rebellions to Marvin's physical father, yet still give glory to his heavenly one. But let's get to side two.
While Marvin co-produced side one with Ed Townsend, he produced side two solo. It begins with "Come Get to This," Let's Get It On's quickie. It's shorter and faster-paced then anything else found on the album, but it is a lot of fun, a throwback to music Marvin admired in the 50's. If you are reading this in 2050, sorry, I'm not talking about you guys. Go fly your car or something. "Come Get to This" is followed by "Distant Lover," which takes on a dreamier atmosphere, resuming that feeling of longing that imbued side one, while injecting a timeless dreaminess...ness. After that, I guess Marvin felt like he hadn't been explicit enough in what he wants because "You Sure Love to Ball" kicks off with the sound of a woman moaning and is called "You Sure Love to Ball." The song thickens the dreamy atmosphere even more, inhabiting some kind of after-sex, drifting to sleep reverie next to a window full of stars and planets and galaxies. All the loving is over, though. The ascent to the mountaintop of mortal pleasure ends with a song about divorce, in this case Marvin's from his first wife. All that gettin it on apparently obscured some deep-seated issues that needed to be discussed...Marvin and his soon-to-be ex-wife, Anna, discuss them here...literally, she co-wrote the song with Marvin. It's like I'm literally using "literally" all the time now. Writing a song about your divorce with the wife you're divorcing sounds awkward, but this is Marvin Pentz Gaye, Jr. we're talking about here. An oxymoron, an anachronism. Divorce your wife, write a song with her about it. Write an entire album about getting it on, then find yourself separated from the one you've been getting it on with. It's why critics are still putting this album on top of their best-of-lists 40-plus years later, and I am giving an album a 10 that came out almost a decade before I was born, and people are still getting conceived during the 30-minute duration of this album. Marvin Gaye was a true artist and he put all of himself out there for the people. This is also why he is dead. You gotta save a little something for yourself, dude. Then again, who's gonna tell us what's going on, who's gonna propose let's get it on, who's gonna say "here, my dear?" Without Marvin and men and women like him, we'd still be licking lichen off of cave walls.
This is one of the weirder reviews I have written. Maybe it's three straight weeks of listening to nothing but Marvin Gaye. And there are still four albums to go! How crazy is the last one gonna be?!
1. Let's Get It On 4:44
2. Please Stay (Once You Go Away) 3:32
3. If I Should Die Tonight 3:57
4. Keep Gettin' It On 3:12
5. Come Get to This 2:40
6. Distant Lover 4:15
7. You Sure Love to Ball 4:43
8. Just to Keep You Satisfied 4:35