Hump Day Slow Jam of the Week: Marvin Gaye, "Let's Get It On"
The Singer: We're covered Marvin Gaye in this space before (with "Sexual Healing"), but we're giving him another airing for this sad and special day: Today marks the 25th anniversary of Marvin Gaye's shooting at the hands of his father (he died the next day). I'm not much for numerology, but it's fitting that as Motown celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, we mark the 25 years since the loss of one of the label's true artists.
The Song: "Let's Get It On" was hardly the first song to be considered a Slow Jam, but it may stand as the finest model of the genre. Every piece of the song just falls into place, from the weepy, wah-wah guitar intro to the attack-and-release drumbeat to Marvin's gentle but unwavering commitment to gettin' some. And while I haven't done the research to back up this claim, I've always suspected that Marvin's use of colloquial language his songs (from "I'll Be Doggone" to "I Heard it Through the Grapevine") has impacted the proliferation of these terms in American slang. "Let's Get It On" -- as a song and as a come-on -- stands as a testament to his powers of language and songwriting. Oh, and it will totally help you get laid.
The Video: Taken from a performance at the 1980 Montreux Jazz Festival, this version of "Let's Get It On" deviates from the recorded version without altering the groove. A trio of male back-up singers give Marvin some room to ad-lib additional flirtations, and the singer takes the song to its logical conclusion by performing a little striptease at the video's end. Sorry, ladies -- those suspenders ain't coming off. Not yet, anyway.