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Here, My Dear
I. Here My Dear (2:48)
II. I Met A Little Girl (5:02)
III. When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You (6:16)
IV. Anger (4:03)
V. Is That Enough (7:46)
VI. Everybody Needs Love (5:46)
VII. Time To Get It Together (3:54)
VIII. Sparrow (6:11)
IX. Anna’s Song (5:54)
X. When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You (Instrumental) (6:03)
XI. A Funky Space Reincarnation (8:17)
XII. You Can Leave, But It’s Going To Cost You (5:30)
XIII. Falling In Love Again (4:39)
XIV. When Did You Stop Loving You, When Did I Stop Loving You [Reprise] (0:47)
Produced for Reissue for Cary E. Mansfield.
Executive Reissue Producer: Candace Bond.
Digitally remastered by Bill Inglot & Dan Hersch at DigiPrep Studios, Los Angeles, California.
Essay by David Ritz.
Tape archives manager; Georgia Ward.
Reissue coordination by Dana G. Smart.
Electronic Prepress by Graphics Plus.
Reissue packaging designed by Tony N. Todaro.
© 1994 & 1978 Motown Record Company, L.P. An Original Sound Recording made by Motown Record Company, L.P., 6255 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028 – USA. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. 37463-6310-2
Written, produced and arranged by Marvin Gaye.
“Anger” was co-written by Marvin Gaye, Delta Ashby and Ed Townsend
“Everybody Needs Love” & “Sparrow” co-written by Marvin Gaye and Ed Townsend
Recording Engineers: Art Stewart, Fred Ross, Tony Houston & Bill Ravencraft.
Mixing Engineer: Art Stewart.
Mastering Engineer: Jack Andrews
Recorded & Mixed at the Marvin Gaye Studios, Hollywood, California
Mastered at the Motown Recording Studio, Hollywood, California
Product Manager: Brenda M. Boyce
Cover Illustration: Michael Bryan
Design & Art Direction: Kosh
Marvin has done it again. He being a creative genius and having the guts to express to that “special someone” things we all sometimes find difficult, my have inspired this masterpiece. It is most assuredly a collector’s item. Marvin remains uninhibited in his subject matter and the portrayal of his feelings. He testifies through “Here, My Dear” and takes us on a musical trip through a personal experience we can all relate to … a love that once was … love promised … love denied ... love gone astray. I wondered through it all if Marvin would be able to capture and then convey all of the feelings that one experiences while undergoing such an ordeal; not only has he done all of this, but as only Marvin Gaye can do, he causes a mesmeric experience to take place, especially when he sings “When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You”. We are forced to recall a lost love. Through his performances of “Sparrow” and “Everybody Needs Love”, Marvin continues to use this God-given talents to teach via his music. Be taught and be a part of this personal and musical experience!
Curtis M. Shaw
“Special thanks to all the musicians who are too numerous to mention but who are all superstars!”
Thanks to Zeola Gaye for assisting with the “lineup”, Bill Ravencroft, and to David Stewart, Art Stewart and Richard “Do Dirty” Bethune for handclaps on “A Funky Space Reincarnation”.
All songs published by and copyright © 1978 Jobete Music Co., Inc., (ASCAP), except “Anger,” “Everybody Needs Love” and “Sparrow” published by and copyright © 1978 Jobete Music Co., Inc., (ASCAP) / Stone Diamond Music Corporation (BMI). Lyrics reproduced by kind permission.
Marvin Gaye – vocals, keyboards, synthesizers
Nolan Smith – trumpet
Charles Owens – tenor saxophone
Fernando Harkness – tenor saxophone
Ernie Fields – alto saxophone
Frank Blair – bass
Bugsy Wilcox – drums
Gary Jones – percussion
Elmira Collins – percussion
Gordon Banks – guitar
Wali Ali – guitar
*Marvin Gaye kept no records of who played on the sessions. Because of his disputes with both the musicians and the unions, he listed no personnel on the original recording. This personnel list is based on the memory of Nolan Smith, the musical director for Marvin’s road band and a participant in these sessions. – David Ritz
Scenes From A Marriage
by David Ritz
It’s thrilling to be re-introducing Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear, a work of haunting beauty and fascinating complexity. For years this singular suite of songs has been out of print. And for years a number of us rabid Gaye fans have pressed for its re-release, arguing for its place among the major works of a major artist. That argument has been won. Glory hallelujah!
As Gaye’s biographer, Here, My Dear has a special meaning for me. It was the vehicle which brought me and Marvin together. I first heard that album, which was recorded in 1977, in the winter of 1978. I was stunned. I must have listened to it thirty times, driving my family a little crazy. I became obsessed, just as Gaye himself had been obsessed with his subject matter – his first wife Anna, their tumultuous marriage and acrimonious divorce. The fact that a soul singer had fashioned this unwieldy theme into a dramatic narrative – a cohesive if somewhat abstract story – struck me as both strange and wonderful. Mostly, though, it was the power of Marvin’s singing that held me spellbound, the way he employed his several voices – natural tenor, piercing falsetto, anguished growl – conveying and contrasting his mercurial states of mind.
It was all Marvin, more Marvin than I ever had heard before – Marvin’s melodies, Marvin’s lyrics, Marvin’s harmonies, Marvin’s narcissism, spirituality, sarcasm, gratitude, resentments and, above all, Marvin’s inner turmoil. This was the stuff of true melodrama, conceived and executed with a highly sophisticated sense of literary irony. It was autobiographical, confessional, infuriatingly self-justifying and very funny. The work was so good, so intriguing. I had to meet Marvin Gaye.
Fate stepped in. a writer for the Los Angeles Times panned the album, infuriating me. I answered the attack, defending a man I had never met, comparing Here, My Dear to Ellington and Mingus and the best work of Stevie Wonder. I called it a masterpiece. Gaye saw my letter in the Times and, through his attorney Curtis Shaw, got in touch with me. By coincidence, Marvin had just read Brother Ray, the biography I had just co-authored with Ray Charles, and wanted me to help him with his own life story. I was in heaven.
Our initial discussions involved Here, My Dear, which Marvin was only too happy to analyze. When in the right frame of mind, Gaye was among the most mellow and charming beings on the planet – self-effacing, witty and warm. He relished the story of how he had met 37-year old Anna Gordy in Detroit when he was only 20. Sister to label boss Berry Gordy, Anna married Marvin in 1964 and, according to him, was largely responsible for his success. “It was impossible to get me into the studio,” Marvin told me. “I found every excuse in the world not to work. Anna was my motivator. She knew how to get me going. In the beginning it was quite wonderful. I needed a strong woman. I don’t think I could have survived without one.”
In 1965, they adopted a child, Marvin Gaye III, and all seemed well. Far from it.
“The marriage was troubled from the start,” Marvin confessed. “There was tremendous love between us, and tremendous need for one another. But I couldn’t be controlled – not by a wife, not by a manager, not by a record company. I was born a ram and a rebel. Our union was not marked by undying fidelity, even if it seemed to be – if you look at my career – a success.”
That career had taken off in 1963 with Marvin’s first hit, “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow.” Stubborn was the right word, because for several years Gaye had insisted on a pop career, seeing himself as a black Sinatra, crooning standards to an adoring public. That image didn’t play. Marvin was forced to make his way through the portals of R&B – finger-snapping singles like “Pride and Joy,” churchy stompers like “Can I Get A Witness,” funky ditties like “How Sweet It Is,” “I’ll Be Doggone,” “Ain’t That Peculiar.” He was produced by others Holland-Dozier-Holland, Smokey Robinson, Harvey Fuqua. He cut a series of classic duets with Tammi Terrell and, singing solo, broke the bank in 1968 with Norman Whitfield’s gritty production of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” at that point the biggest selling single in Motown’s history. Thereafter, Gaye declared his independence. The sixties were over.
The seventies brought three brilliant efforts in which Marvin acted as chief (or at least co-) writer and producer of his self-styled material. He went from the sociopolitical What’s Going On, which many consider the first R&B concept album, to the highly sexual Let’s Get It On to the wildly erotic I Want You. All three hit big. By then, though, it was 1976 and Marvin was consumed by other concerns – creeping doubts about his creativity, fears of performance (singing, sexual and otherwise), plus a growing reliance on drugs as anti-depressants. Moreover, his marriage to Anna, the most steadfast influence in his professional life, had collapsed.
In fact, during the making of Let’s Get It On in 1973, 34-year old Gaye had fallen in love with 17-year old Janis Hunter. They subsequently lived together and had two children – Nona in 1976 and Frankie in 1975, the same year Anna finally filed for divorce.
“Marvin hired me to represent him in the matter of his divorce,” said Curtis Shaw. “As a result, we became close friends and confidants. When I arrived on the scene, Marvin was already in contempt of court for not paying his temporary alimony payments. They were about to padlock his ranch in Hidden Hills where he was living with Janis and their kids. Everyone was on his back. Berry was mad because he needed an album, and Anna was furious because Marvin was flaunting his new family. There weren’t many joint-estate assets because during the Marvin/Anna years they lived high on the hog. Berry lent Marvin all sorts of money. Meanwhile, Anna was demanding a million dollars. How was this ever going to get resolved. I came up with a plan. Marvin was getting $305,000.00 advance per album at that point, and I suggested he pay the next album’s advance to Anna, plus the first $295,000 of earnings. That meant she’d have $600,000. Anna went for the idea. I got Marvin to go along, and the judge wrote up the order.”
Marvin takes up the story, “I figured I’d just do a quickie record – nothing heavy, nothing even good. Why should I break my neck when Anna was going to wind up with the money anyway? But the more I lived with the notion of doing an album for Anna, the more it fascinated me. Besides, I owed the public my best effort. Finally, I did the record out of deep passion. It became a compulsion. I had to free myself of Anna, and I saw this as the way. All those depositions and hearings, all those accusations and lies – I knew I’d explode if I didn’t get all that junk out of me. So I had Art (Gaye’s engineer Art Stewart) open up the mikes. I sang and sang until I drained myself of everything I lived through. That took me three months, but then I held back the album for over a year. I was afraid to let it go.”
Undoubtedly afraid because, in Marvin’s mind, it was Anna and Berry who made him, and Anna and Berry who could destroy him. At the same time, Gaye was furious at both of them for what he perceived as their control over him. It’s interesting too, how Marvin transcended his initial reaction to the judge’s arrangement. Angry and spiteful at first, he wanted to record a bad record that wouldn’t sell. The hell with Anna. But his artistic integrity and instinctual feel for autobiographical composition got in his way. Anna deserved more, demanded more. Anna had always made him work. Though his tone might be covered with sarcasm – the seemingly sweet title itself drips with irony – Here, My Dear would force Marvin inward to face his fears.
Watching Marvin record – as I did for months at a time – was always a treat and a revelation. That is, if he showed up. Without explanation, he’d often avoid the studio for prolonged periods. He’d be off in the hills, running at the beach, or playing basketball at the “Y” around the corner from the Hollywood studio he had custom built in 1975, a luxurious earth-toned complex heavy with dark wood and complete with a private apartment, king-size waterbed and Jacuzzi big enough to accommodate a dozen consenting adults.
When Marvin did arrive there were always well-wisher, hanger-ons, everyone from pimps to preachers. There were also times when he worked ins solitude, with only engineer Art Stewart by his side. He composed on the spot. Rarely did he bring anything into the studio that he prepared beforehand. He was also a collaborator, often depending on others to trigger the initial creative move. Nolan Smith, a superb trumpeter and one of the chief instrumentalists on Here, My Dear, was Marvin’s musical director on the road in the late seventies and early eighties. He recalls the circumstances surrounding Here, My Dear:
“Marvin would invite some of the musicians out to Hidden Hills to play basketball. They’d be flattered. Everyone wanted to hang out with Marvin. At the end of the game, Marvin might suggest that we all go to the studio and jam. I loved the man, I respected his genius. At the same time, I knew that when Marvin asked us over to the studio, we might wind up contributing to his compositions without any of the rewards. Finally, though, it was Marvin who had the vision. There’s no doubt that, in the final analysis, Marvin formulated his own material.”
The formulation was fascinating to watch. Rarely would he venture of the other side of the glass. He stayed close to the controls. He brought in the mike and placed it on the soundboard or atop a keyboard he happened to be playing. The key was relaxation. He composed and sang sitting down. The six inches between his mouth and the microphone represented a space over which he had complete command. He could radically change the texture of his voice by moving less than a millimeter. His mike technique was meticulous. Gaye made it look easy.
Before meeting Marvin, I had watched musicians write songs on the back of greasy burger bags or matchbooks. Gaye took it even further. He wrote nothing down. He mumbled over prerecorded tracks or to his own accompaniment. The mumblings were embryonic melodies which, in turn, magically evolved, after two or three or four takes, into lyrics. The process seemed metaphysical, transcendental. His fabulous overdubs – harmonizing to his own voice, shadowing himself – was also spontaneous. “I feel harmony here,” he’d tell his engineer. Or, “Open up another track for me, Art. Let me sing to myself.” And sing to himself he would, his methodology bordering on musical self-hypnotherapy. He worked in a trance, creating a sensuous universe of sound.
That’s the first paradox I saw in Marvin. He transformed rage into beauty, the chaos of life rearranged into the order of art. Unlike generations of rappers who would follow him – and whose anger he would have undoubtedly endorsed – Gaye wasn’t interested in recreating his emotional reality; he wanted to change that reality though the act of making music. He sought to tame his beasts, not unleash them. Consequently, Marvin was a true recording artist, for it was in the intricate and private process of recording – and certainly not performing, which he loathed – where all his talents blossomed. In the studio and only in the studio was he master of his mind. Only in the studio could he calm the storm of his uncertain mind.
“I wound up playing all the keyboard parts on Here, My Dear,” Marvin told me. “I didn’t plan it that way. If just turned out to be a hands-on project. I had to keep it close to me. I’d never written music so personal.”
Before I heard the music, the first thing that struck me was the album’s artwork. Marvin explained that he had described these images, which had been in his dreams, to artist Michael Bryan. The cover reveals a toga-clad Marvin in a neo-Roman setting, his demeanor noble, his hand raised like Marcus Aurelius. On a good day this is now Marvin saw himself – in charge, aristocratic, cool. On the back cover the holy temple of matrimony collapses around a mock-Rodin sculpture of a couple in a passionate embrace. The man’s crotch on fire. The fold-out illustration gracing the inside of the original double album shows a man’s hand reaching across to the hand of a woman. He’s about to give her a record. Here, my dear. The hands are extended over a Monopoly board; on the man’s side of the board are tape recorders and a grand piano; on the woman’s side is a house, car and ring. There’s also a rose, skull and crossbones, and dice. The scales of justice sit about the game in perfect symmetry while, from the arched windows, curious observers – perhaps fans – watch. Fires burn. Symbolism is rampant. The juxtaposition of images reflects the turbulent state of Marvin’s mind, a marital mess enshrined within the somewhat decadent setting of high art.
Marvin’s own art is rooted in doo-wop, that extravagant form of sophisticated vocal harmony he heard – and learned so well – as a teenager. (His first major gig was with Harvey Fuqua and the new Moonglows, a premier doo-wop group of the fifties.) So it is especially fitting that Gaye employs the ultra-romantic lexicon of doo-wop to open the record and address both his nemesis and inspiration, the woman who will give him no peace, his wife of life.
The self-serving, self-justifying, self-pitying tone to Marvin’s preamble, “Here, My Dear,” is disconcerting. He launches into the one charge with which he hopes to win his audiences’ sympathy – that Anna has kept him from seeing their son. But it soon becomes clear that the singer is concerned with more than is divorce; his struggle is to keep from going mad. Singing is his only salvation.
“I Met A Little Girl” goes back to Gaye’s beginnings, stylistically and emotionally. His doo-wop entrenched harmonies are a thick mixture of sincerity and sarcasm. He calls out the year of his marriage – 1964 – and the year he’s setting out this song – 1976 – to indicate the time covered by the story to follow. He goes as far as to replicate his marriage vows. The song ends with his tears, and when he sings, “Hallelujah, I’m free,” his tone is anything but joyful. He may want to celebrate his divorce by proclaiming his freedom, but his honest emotions are mourning the death of his marriage. His ambiguity is evident from the start.
“When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You,” is the central melodic motif running through the suite, the question which he cannot stop asking himself over and again. Different voices asking different questions expressing different feelings – tenderness, fear, anger, regret. Clearly Marvin has never been in such commanding control of his overdubbing voice-layering techniques. What’s more, he abandons traditional song structure. The mode here is discursive; predictable verse-chorus won’t do. Gaye’s open-ended storytelling needs space. Like a jazz musician, he wanders over the chordal landscape, improvising lyrics as well as notes. He also expands a device he utilized so well with What’s Going On; in addition to giving a track over to a tenor saxist (Charles Owens or Fernando Harkness) whose ad-lips bubble beneath the surface; he also employs a trumpet (Nolan Smith). For Gaye, the more musical textures, the more he’s able to express his warring states of mind.
“Anger” is perhaps the most straight-ahead and beguiling of all the songs. The transformation between raw feeling and polished art is evident in the soft, subtle way Gaye sings about rage. Part sermon (he addresses his listeners, his congregation, his “children”), part self-retribution (“it’s a sin to treat your body bad”), he describes his movement from catharsis to escape. (“I know a real nice place where I can go/And feel the way I’m supposed to feel.”) He paints anger in its most physical terms – “up and down my back, my spine, in my brain – it injures me” – realizing its harm while yearning for – and failing to find – a way to transcend the trap. At the same time, Marvin is wise enough to know that, for now, wisdom remains out of reach:
Someday soon I hope and pray like Jesus
I’ll reach that wiser age
Hope I will learn I really never never profit
From things I do in rage
“Is That Enough?” catches Marvin after a day at court. “He’d come back from one of those hearings,” remembers Art Stewart, “and instead of crying or yelling, he’d start singing, ‘Ain’t that enough, ain’t that enough, you love that expensive stuff…’ until he shaped the thing into a song.”
Gaye begins the story all over again – “Oh, I was a fool from the start/Foolin’ around with my mind instead of my heart” – adding another layer, giving you the feeling he’s still trying to get it right, see it clearly, understand what’s happening. This time around he feels exploited – “plucked clean” in his words – accusing Anna, in haunting refrain, of being “too possessive or jealous.” The weight of his pity-me-poor-me tone is lifted, however, by humor and ingenious rhyme: “What could I do, the judge said, ‘She got to keep on livin’ the way she ‘customed to.’” The internal monologue ends with Marvin’s glum reflections on “attorney fees…why do I have to pay attorney fees?” He cuts of the matter with “this is a joke… I need a smoke…wait a minute…” You can see him firing up a joint, settling back and listening to Fernando Harkness’ tenor sizzle over a groove that stays funky from start to finish.
Here, My Dear can be viewed as a study in vacillation, Gaye’s struggle to turn anger into understanding, rage into compassion. “Everybody Needs Love” is an attempt at empathy. In the aftermath of Marvin’s bizarre and tragic demise, it’s especially poignant to hear him cite his own father as someone who needs love. Finally, of course, it is the singer himself who is seeking absolution, praying for the love he first experienced in his father’s Pentecostal church, “the love of Jesus.”
The struggle, the praying, the pleading with himself spills over into “Time To Get It Together.” The song also carries a sense of ominous defeat, as though Marvin knows he will lose the war for sanity. His tone is desperate. Musically, emotionally, so much is happening on so many different tracks. Again, he invokes Jesus – “Jesus said time will heal all wounds” – and admits his inertia (“Sometimes I am unable to move/I let temptation get me off my groove”). “Getting it” becomes the key. And “it” seems to stand for discipline, the will to stop indulging in tantrums and drugs. But as determined as he sounds, the “tick tock tick tock” sound of h is own voice in the background is moving against him, reinforcing the notion that “my life’s a clock and it’s winding down.” Finally, Gaye gives a full-blown confession, a spoken recitation whose structure, he told me, was influenced by Stevie Wonder’s “As” from Songs In The Key Of Life, which is only fair since Stevie himself was deeply influenced by What’s Going On. “I’ve been racing against time,” Gaye chants. “Trying my best to find a way/Change this world in just one day/Blowin’ coke all up my nose/Gettin’ in and out of my clothes/Foolin’ ‘round with midnight ho’s/But that chapter of my life’s closed.”
Or is it?
Bittersweet, filled with remorse and pain “Anna’s Song” is the very heart of Here, My Dear. The sincerity in Gaye’s voice, the sexy groove, the striking beauty of the poetry – everything points to Marvin’s love for Anna. The ballad paints exquisite pictures of opulent sensuality – baths in milk, satin sheets, chocolate mint candy sweets – contrasted with the hard reality of Anna trying to get her stubborn husband to work. Then suddenly Marvin surprises us all with a radiant image, a quiet afternoon long ago – back in Detroit in the sixties – when his domestic life was not yet in shambles, a rare instance of tranquility, snow falling from the sky, the sound of happy children playing close by. But the memory of such a sacred moment brings only anguish and regret as Gaye screams the name of his wife, as if he still needs her, still loves her, still can’t free himself of the obsession. “Anna!” he cries. “Anna! Anna!”
If Marvin is to escape Anna, he can only do so through get-high humor. That means shooting for the moon, rocketing to Venus. In the preceding refrain to “When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You,” as Marvin scats and croons over the hypnotic theme, he promised Anna, “I’ll see you in the next lifetime.” “A Funky Space Reincarnation” is a whimsical projection of that lifetime. The funkiest jam in a notoriously funky narrative, “Space” is wickedly funny. The otherworldly setting is far in the future, a time “light years ahead” when “music won’t have no race.” Marvin calls out the years – 2073, 2084, 2093 – just as in “I Met A Little Girl” he called out the year of his marriage. Here he will be married again – “You and me gonna be getting down on a space bed/We gonna get married in June” – only this time the “interplanetary funk” will make everything all right, turn friction into “peaceful space.” On another planet , in another lifetime, Gaye envisions meeting Anna at a party. He offers her a joint, space dope from Venus. They get stoned, and in a scene reminiscent of Woody Allen’s Sleeper, they make love in a space machine. Afterward, Marvin directs the other revelers into an orgy while he steals away with his futuristic, idealized Anna. Alluding to Star Wars with shades of George Clinton’s far-out Parliament and Funkadelic, Gaye is riveting in his judicious use of sweetly seductive grooves and tasty guitar riffs. The song is Marvin’s way of dealing with the divorce proceedings, losing himself in fantasy and humor.
Fantasy and humor, however, don’t last too long. Try as he might, Marvin can’t forget Anna’s threat: “You Can Leave, But It’s Going To Cost You.” He remembers a day at this sister-in-laws house – “We were over at Gwen’s, and we was trying one more time/To make amends” – when Anna warns him “that young girl is gonna cost you.” The girl, of course, is Janis, and here the battle quickens with Marvin remembering how the violence between him and Anna led to “stimulating” sex. The song represents Marvin’s final flight for what he perceives as his freedom, his last-ditch effort to leave Anna, something he has been threatening yet unable to realize for years. The movement, the memories between past and present continue, and after reciting a list of brutal accusations, Gaye lets the matter rest with a bit of self-serving humor. “You used to say,” he sings about Anna, “What a gorgeous hunk of man,’/But that didn’t help me, baby/When you was on that stand.”
The last song, “Falling In Love Again,” belongs to Janis. For all his melancholy, Marvin concludes on a regenerative note, although by then his relationship with Janis was already showing signs of strain. Ironically, when the record came out in late 1978, Marvin was not longer living with Janis. The turmoil marking his first marriage would, if anything, intensify with his second, which also ended in brutal divorce. When it came to dealing with women, Marvin had a gift for making himself miserable.
Art Stewart remembers what happened when Gaye completed Here, My Dear: “He asked me to play it for Anna. She listened in the control room. All the time Marvin was upstairs in his loft, but never came down. Anna just sat there and listened, didn’t say much, and left.”
When the record was released, People magazine reported that Anna was considering a $5 million invasion-of-privacy suit (which she never filed). “I think he did it deliberately for the joy of seeing how hurt I could become,” she said at the time.
“Does this album invade her privacy?” Marvin replied to People. “I’ll have to give it another listen…but all’s fair in love and war.”
A decade later I met Anna Gordy Gaye and had an opportunity to discuss the album with her. Marvin had been for several years, and, though Anna had refused to be interviewed for Divided Soul, my biography of Gaye, she was now cordial and willing to talk.
It was a warm winter afternoon, and we stepped onto the patio of her brother Berry’s Bel Air estate. Among the flowers and blooming vines, she looked youthful and stylish. I told her that in my opinion Here, My Dear, for all its acrimony, was a tribute to the extraordinary way in which she had influenced Marvin. Among the many people in his life, she alone had motivated him to create a virtual symphony of soul music.
“It’s taken me a while,” Anna said, “but with the passage of time I’ve come to appreciate every form of Marvin’s music, even songs written in anger. In the end, you know, when he was very sick, he came to see me often. We stayed close.”
Others – Curtis Shaw and Marvin’s brother Frankie – confirm the fact that, in the final months of his life, when Marvin was sick with fear and paranoia from drug abuse, he turned to Anna for consolation.
In a strange sense, Anna is a co-creator of Here, My Dear, the preamble to which actually appears at the end of Gaye’s 1973 Let’s Get It On album, “Just To Keep You Satisfied,” one of the most beautiful songs in Marvin’s long, distinguished career, a bone-chilling ballad which paints the portrait of a marriage gone bad, a composition, incidentally, co-written by Marvin and Anna.
Here, My Dear enjoyed neither good reviews nor brisk sales. The timing was wrong. It was a difficult album to understand, requiring both patience and attention. The public had neither. The listening audience of the late seventies was in the final throes of disco. A two-LP set devoted to unconventional songs tracing the history of a torturous marriage was decidedly uncommercial. Convinced the record label would never push a product critical of its chairman’s sister, Marvin did all he could to alienate Motown, never giving the company a chance to properly promote the album.
Eventually, though, times serves great art. When the heat of the moment passes, the work stands on it’s own. Here, My Dear, for all its contradictions, remains a work of great musical beauty, a record of struggle and remarkable achievement.
David Ritz, who won a 1992 Grammy for liner notes, has written biographies of Marvin Gaye (Divided Soul), Smokey Robinson, Ray Charles, Etta James and producer Jerry Wexler. His novels include Take It Off, Take It All Off!; his lyrics include “Sexual Healing.”
Here, My Dear was originally released on Tamla 364, December 15, 1979.
One single was issued: “Funky Space Reincarnation – Pts. I & II”, Tamla 54298, January 11, 1979.