Continuing with a look at some of our favourite love-inspired tees this month - and what better way to commemorate Valentines Day than by taking a look at the story behind this epic Worn Free Marvin Gaye Let’s Get it On T-Shirt.
Art from Inner Turmoil
In the run up to Valentines we’ve been taking a closer look at Marvin’s life and untimely demise at the hands of his father and we have to say it hasn’t been particularly lovely at all. From the death of his wonderful singing partner Tammi Terrell in 1970 to his challenging twelve-year marriage to Tamla Motown boss Berry Gordy’s sister, Anna - Gaye seems to have been plagued with misfortune and troubled with darkness. So today, on the day of love, lets take some time to focus on the positives with a closer look at this incredible, influential song – the blueprint for all slow jams to come:
Let’s get it on
The title track from Marvin’s thirteenth studio album, released in the summer of 1973 - Let’s Get It On is regarded by many as a landmark recording in soul. Stop for a minute and have another listen to this classic tune as you read. Compared to the overtly sexual songs we are bombarded with in modern times, Let’s Get It On presents its message compassionately, in a gentle and charismatic way. From the instrumentation and arrangement of the vocals to the sheer poetry of those words. And whilst there’s nothing wrong with a little bump and grind, according to some it has a much deeper meaning than a simple request for gratification.
The story behind the song
After revelling in the success of his ambitious, socially conscious album, ‘What’s Going On’ Marvin soon realised this was going to be a very tough act to follow. He had renegotiated his contract with Motown, providing him with more creative control to take any direction he now chose with his music - but perhaps this was too much freedom - as he struggled fruitlessly to decide which way to turn. Also around this time he had briefly separated from his wife Anna and was considering relocating to LA. Dealing with this raft of issues prompted him to seek solace in spirituality, which in turn inspired him to start creating again. Despite the popular interpretation of this song as a sexual theme tune, according to his biographer, David Ritz, Marvin had intended Let’s Get It On to be much more than that.
In his book, Divided Soul, The Life of Marvin Gaye, Ritz suggests that theme of love and romance in the song is a metaphor for God’s love, as Marvin attempted to reconcile his inner-conflict:
“If the most profound soul songs are prayers in secular dress, Marvin's prayer is to reconcile the ecstasy of his early religious epiphany with a sexual epiphany. The hope for such a reconciliation, the search for sexual healing, is what drives his art”
Speaking about the track, smooth talker Q-Tip describes how the implied sexual implicitness of the track paved the way for other sexually-themed tunes to follow:
“Although there was a 'conscious' revolution, there was also a great sexual revolution ... Let's Get It On was Marvin wanting to make commentary on what was happening.…capturing erotica like that, and weaving it into the music the way he did; it was mind blowing. I think it was a natural progression, because we were having a revolution with our minds, and then with our bodies at that time.”
Despite everything that was going on in his life, Marvin was able to take his troubles and spin them into greatness – the beauty of the piece comes from his inner conflict –and his acknowledgement of the sexual awakening happening around him in society.
Whatever you’re doing this Valentine’s day – we hope it’s more about love and spirituality than turmoil and darkness. And now you know the story behind the song, when you walk into a bar wearing our Worn Free Let’s Get It On T-shirt, people will realise you’re not just seeking gratification – you’ve got hidden depths…as well as desires.