Goodnight everyone, and give it up this weekend!

Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.

33 years ago this month…

This week, artists perform Marvin Gaye.

Before we start out with the song most synonymous with Gaye, a quiz.

If I asked who first recorded “You Were Always On My Mind” you’d probably reply, Willie Nelson. You’d be wrong. It was Elvis.

“I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” Who had the first hit?

No, it was not Marvin Gaye.

Motown producer Norman Whitfield liked to record the same song not only with different acts but with different arrangements.  Whitefield and Barrett Strong wrote “Grapevine” and for Gaye suggested a slow, mysterious tempo. At first, Gaye wasn’t interested. But he did eventually agree in 1968 to record the song that became the bestselling Motown single of the decade.

One year earlier, the very first recording of “Grapevine” was released with a faster pace.

During the mid to late 1970’s just about everyone made a foray into disco, including Marvin Gaye, who wasn’t enthralled at all with that particular music style.

With the help of producer Art Stewart,  Gaye came up with lyrics about a one-time wallflower who blossoms on the dance floor.

Saxman extraordinaire Tom Scott puts the sax down and picks up a flute for this cover of Gaye’s 1977 hit.

Next, at the movies in 1972…

Marvin Gaye did the soundtrack.

Whoa, ah, mercy mercy me

Oh things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east
Whoa mercy, mercy me,
Oh things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas, fish full of mercury
Ah, oh mercy, mercy me
Ah things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Radiation under ground and in the sky
Animals and birds who live nearby are dying

In 1971 Gaye departed from soul for a bit and delved into social issues like the environment for “Mercy Mercy Me.” Gaye spoke about the song in a 1976 interview:

“I am a student of Don Juan and Carlos Castaneda. I’ve read many books by many authors. My idea of living is, I would love to become an impeccable warrior, one who has no need for earthly things such as the wine, the women, the clothes and the diamonds, and the fine things to wear. I’d love to develop a distaste for those things and become only interested in knowledge and power that this earth will give us, if we’re only willing to put in the time and effort.  I would love to quit show-business and go after that knowledge and that power that the truly gifted sorcerer has. The power’s here, it’s in the rocks, it’s in the air, it’s in the animals. There are men of knowledge who could take these forces and elements and cause mysterious things to happen to the body, transform themselves and do many, many marvelous things. I would like to become a man of power, and I would like to use it in a good fashion.”

United Kingdom keyboardist Michel e plays chillout lounge music.

That’s it for this week.


Sleep well.

Have a great weekend.

We close with another composition of social commentary. Gaye pleads for peace, and mentions his own family:  Younger brother Frankie, a Vietnam veteran (“Brother, brother, brother/There’s far too many of you dying”), and his father whom he had a turbulent relationship with (“Father, father, father/We don’t need to escalate”).

It never made it to the very top (peaking at #2), but it’s considered one of Gaye’s greatest achievements.

This version is by well-known American record producer, actor, conductor, arranger, composer, musician, television producer, film producer, instrumentalist, magazine founder, entertainment company executive, and humanitarian, Quincy Jones.

He’s the lead singer, and Valerie Simpson and others provide the back-up vocals. Gaye: April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984


My personal favorite Marvin Gaye song, from 1969:


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