Marvin Gaye, Anna, and the Divorce Album

As kids, when Marvin Gaye came on the radio, my brothers and I knew that my parents were about to lose their minds. Our car immediately was transformed into a juke joint with finger snapping, clapping, and singing.

When the news of Marvin Gaye’s death flashed across our television screen, my parents and their friends were devastated, yet, it took me almost thirty years to truly understand their sadness.

Here, My Dear, was the album that showed me the genius, complexity, madness, and brilliance of Marvin Gaye. Unfortunately, it is the one album that most of you have never even heard.

It was 1961 and Marvin was just twenty years old and newly signed to Motown. Thirty-seven year-old Anna Gordy, sister of legendary Berry Gordy, saw Marvin and fell in love with him. They married soon after they met. To put it mildly, their marriage was complicated.  It was characterized by passion, pain, compromise, pressure, abuse, influence, and a seventeen year age difference.

In 1976, after fourteen years of a tumultuous marriage, Anna and Marvin were no longer living together as husband and wife. By the time their divorce was initiated, the couple had already been separated for years and both were accusing each other of having multiple affairs.

At the time, Marvin was living with Janice, a woman almost thirty-four years younger than Anna Gordy.  With all of the issues between the two of them, it is no wonder that Marvin and Anna's divorce proceedings dragged on for two years. Anna was asking for a million dollars for back child-support and alimony.  But Marvin's lifestyle had left him in financial ruins and in trouble with the IRS. His attorney suggested a resolution and in 1978, their dispute came to an end when the judge ordered Marvin to make an album for the sole purpose of paying his ex-wifeHere, My Dear is that album.

From the first note to the last, Here My Dear makes you feel like you are a voyeur into Anna and Marvin’s relationship, as if you picked up his private journals. From the very first song, Marvin lays it all out on the table, so much so that Anna contemplated suing him for invasion of privacy. As the album progresses, every song provides us with more and more insight into their relationship, starting from the song titles themselves, which include You Can Leave But It’s Going To Cost You, Anger, and Is That Enough.

But perhaps the most poignant song is When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You.  If you ever wanted insight into a man's emotions during an irretrievably broken relationship, take a listen. It's a roller coaster of memories, confusion, anger, regret, and well wishes that are rolled up into one man's attempt to come to terms with the idea that a couple's love for each other has ceased to exist.

Here My Dear is an explanation, a tribute, a love story, a declaration, and a revenge album compressed into fourteen tracks. Even still, Marvin Gaye manages to write a song for his ex-wife, entitled, Anna's Song.  If you ever doubted how much Marvin loved Anna during their relationship, listen to the song at about 1:48. It is the chilling musical equivalent to Marlon Brando screaming "Stella" during Streetcar Named Desire.

As a single, Anna's Song is a beautiful dedication to a woman and serves as a crescendo to the remaining tracks on the album.  Between the melody and the lyrics, many of us would kill to have someone write a song like this for us.  But this song, in relation to the entire album, demonstrates the complicated nature of relationships, where love can be sandwiched in between anger and hurt.

If you haven't heard Here, My Dear in its entirety, this is my plea for you to check it out. Head over to itunes or amazon. I promise, you won't regret it.