Why Here, My Dear is Marvin Gaye's Greatest Album (To Me)

By Speed on the Beat (@SpeedontheBeat)

When people think of Marvin Gaye, we tend to think of a few snippets. The opening chords of "Ain't No Mountain" either make us think of Remember the Titans or that sort of endless love. "Mercy Mercy Me" and "What's Going On?" make us want to throw up our fists in solidarity and take down the Establishment which has disenfranchised us all. And I Want You's sexual bluntness may make you blush or want to nod your head in agreement and go get it in.

Well, at least it does for me.

But, one album, for me, stands out as Marvin Gaye's greatest album. Ironically, it was, initially, one of his worst-received albums. And, even though in 2015, people consider it to be a masterpiece, I still feel that it gets swept under the rug for some of the aforementioned moments.

1978's Here, My Dear (above) came in the middle of a very turbulent time in Marvin's life. He was a man on the run because of palimony payments. He was getting divorced and had to give half of the proceeds of this album to Anna Gordy. Drugs were starting to come into play. Gone was the playful sexual energy we'd seen just two years prior, replaced by an angry, almost self-destructive-so-she-can't-have-it aura over this album on first listen.

But, that's the glory of HMD. It's not just "oh, you did me dirty, so screw you." The project exposes the voice behind the curtain, the man behind the wizard. Here, My Dear is the big reveal; Marvin Gaye, in his infinite wisdom and the like, he's human. He feels and hurts because of these feelings. He makes mistakes and has to deal with their repercussions. He hates the fact that this great thing, this great romance went to complete shit over the years. Something that started so promising ended up taking so much from him--and from Anna.

On a personal level, I was introduced to this album during a pretty tumultuous time in my life as well. I just got out of a long-term relationship. True suggested I give it a listen for sample ideas. So, I bought the album (Ed. Note: There's a bit of a superstition I have; I have to legitimately buy Marvin's albums) and sat down and listened. At first, I felt like "yeah, fuck these heartbreakers; they ain't shit." I began crafting my first album based on that interpretation of the album.

And then I actually went back and thought about what Marvin said and how he said it. He never fully put the blame on Anna for the dissolution of their marriage. At the end, the blame game is played between both parties, as is how many relationships end. It's never really just one person's fault. Just as a relationship takes two people to live, it takes two to die. And that realization, along with the unveiling and unraveling of the mythos of Marvin Gaye are reasons why I feel that Here, My Dear is Marvin Gaye's greatest album, production-wise, lyrically, emotionally, and otherwise.


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