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.
February can be a bit cold and sad. A short, dark month in between fun times, when nothing much seems to happen. But underneath the ground, shoots are stirring, the sap is rising and to celebrate this reawakening, slap bang in the middle of the month its St Valentines Day. Traditionally a time to treat your loved one - or if you don’t have a loved one - go on, treat yourself! You deserve it!
This month, with romance on our minds, we’re going to be taking a look at the story behind a few of the iconic images that inspired some of our best 'love' themed t-shirts, starting off with recent birthday boy, Steve Marriott.
Best known for his work with ground breaking psychedelic mods, the Small Faces, Steve went on to form Humble Pie in 1969 after quitting the band. Regarded as one of the first 60’s super groups, the original Humble line-up also included Pete Frampton from the Herd and Greg Ridley from Spooky Tooth, along with seventeen-year-old newcomer Jerry Shirley on drums.
Steve found that playing with Humble Pie gave him the chance to explore new styles of music and shake off the pop star label that he had hated so much during his time with the Small Faces. He came up with the name Humble Pie after getting together with the other band members to brainstorm ideas, as Jerry Shirley explains:
“Humble Pie was one of Steve's suggestions. One of mine was ‘Evil Cardboard’ which was the end of a joint. Anyway ‘Evil Cardboard’ did not get the vote. We all thought Humble Pie was just perfect. It was a reaction against the whole super group thing. The idea of being called a super group without even playing was quite disturbing. We were just saying, ‘Now wait a minute we’re only a bunch of lads just starting and want time to develop’ ”.
Back to the gig – how do we know it was an epic performance? Because we’ve seen it! The whole show was filmed for ABC TV and we’ve found quite a bit of it online. If you want to listen to the soundtrack for this Steve Marriott t-shirt – and get some tips on how to accessorise - then check out this clip to see why twenty six years after his untimely death, Steve is still regarded as a total legend. There are also some pretty cool vintage tees in the audience too!
We don’t know what inspired Steve to wear the heart t-shirt that evening. His love life was turbulent and colourful, with three marriages and four known children. A perfectionist, he found that the pressures of fame and drugs took their toll. Like many rock n roll heroes, Steve died too young. He perished in a fire at his home - believed to have been started by a cigarette. Speaking about his death, Jerry said that Steve had lived on the edge and that he always expected a phone call to say that he had died but never dreamed that it would be under those circumstances.
Despite this sad ending, of course Steve lives on – through his influential contribution to music and in the hearts of his fans. A few days ago on the 30th of Jan it would have been Steve’s 70th birthday – and nine days earlier on 21st of January this year, Steve’s daughter Tonya gave birth to a son, Toby – a quirky Aquarian just like his granddad. Toby shares his first name with his uncle - a top bloke and friend of Worn Free - Toby Marriott of the Strays and Black Drummer. It is heartening to know that Steve’s children (and hopefully grandchildren) are creating music and have inherited his talents.
Rock this Steve Marriott t-shirt
Love keeps the rock and roll spirit alive in all of us, Steve didn’t know what lay ahead for him back in 1974 – but he certainly wore his heart on his sleeve – or the front of his t-shirt at least. This Valentine’s day, keep your loved ones close and whilst you’re at it, get them to watch this YouTube link to hear some more Humble Pie and check out how to rock this Steve Marriott t-shirt!