For the thenyear-old singer, this was like slipping into a comfortable pair of shoes. Radio DJs, however, rightfully fell quickly in love with this new, moodier take on the same material, spinning with such regularity that Gordy had no choice but to release it as a single. You get the fullest sense of that in this song, that warm regard that glows out of each line they sing. Compare that to the resignation so many people around the world seem to be experiencing today about the miserable state of our air, oceans, and land. The production by Smokey Robinson practically begs you to get up and frug along with every overdriven handclap and that insistent melody line that gets doubled up by piano and guitar. This had instant success written all over it.
For as great as the rest of the album that this song comes from is, this one still lingers the longest. The rhythms slide and glide in a nice slow dance fashion, but the song is driven more by the chicken-scratch guitar line that lingers in the left channel and those synth blips that tiptoe through it all. You can imagine a trajectory that involves him working with Nile Rodgers or Quincy Jones, or finding a way to embrace even more synthetic sounds and electro-pop beats in ways that felt vibrant and original instead of cloying. And his music continues to sell steadily as new generations are introduced to his back catalog. Because if this had shown up on one of his albums in, say, , it probably would have been as good, but would have skewed toward treacly ballad territory. Through it all, Gaye paces back and forth, going over the details of what he heard to his soon-to-be former lover with an air of incredulity to his voice. Try as they might, no other vocalist could combine those two sensibilities as Gaye does here, bringing to life the guy that you wanted to bring home to meet mom and then sneak off to the bathroom for a quickie before dinner is served. The twinkling xylophone and steady heartbeat of the music gives it a tone of hopefulness as well, a feeling that maybe these dire conditions could get turned around if folks would just start to act with a little more care. Rappers like Drake and Mos Def have dedicated songs to him. You could holler, sure, but what good what that do? With such a vast and varied career, winnowing this list down to just 10 songs felt like a Herculean task at times. Most of his work up through was trying to make each song written for him or cover song into something personal. You catch hints of what could have been in the strings of the Detroit Symphony and doo-wop backing vocals. This had instant success written all over it. The production by Smokey Robinson practically begs you to get up and frug along with every overdriven handclap and that insistent melody line that gets doubled up by piano and guitar. For the thenyear-old singer, this was like slipping into a comfortable pair of shoes. As fantastic as the two were on their own and as Gaye was in the company of other female singers like Mary Wells and Kim Weston , they seemed to bring something extra out of one another. A quaint notion, perhaps, but one that we could all be striving for with this as our soundtrack. That, again, is what makes Gaye one of the greats. Radio DJs, however, rightfully fell quickly in love with this new, moodier take on the same material, spinning with such regularity that Gordy had no choice but to release it as a single. Listen to the playlist in full on Spotify. That could be attributed to the earworm quality of the song but more so it is a factor of how Gaye sings it. Listen as the song moves along at how his voice goes from that gentle pleading to an arms akimbo falsetto to something closer to desk overturning anger. Why then did Robinson and the Miracles hand it over to Gaye and let him be associated with the song far more than its creators? As part of the proceedings surrounding his divorce from his first wife Anna Gordy, Gaye agreed to give half of the money he would earn from his next album to his ex. He intended it to be a throwaway recording to just get this particular monkey off his back.
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