When the singer was killed on his 45th birthday in 1984, he was at the pinnacle of his career.
On this day in 1984, Marvin Gaye was shot and killed at the apex of his career.
Since his early days in Motown's ranks, Gaye was always a tastemaker. Initially a reclusive drummer, Gaye quietly emerged onto the 1960s Motown scene with a handful of early doo-wop hits. When crooning began to dominate mainstream radio, Gaye shifted with the tide and positioned himself as a crooner in his own right with hits like "My Funny Valentine and "How High The Moon." He then naturally dove into the world of R&B before pivoting for a brief stint in psychedelia with an acclaimed reimagining of Dion and Beatles songs. As the 70s brought on disco and sly funk, Gaye curated his own material to add to the exploding genre.
All of it was so naturally Gaye. He was an unstoppable musical polymath who could easily switch with the times, making his senseless murder on his 45th birthday all the more depressing. His endless musical cache about societal ills and personal heartbreak would eventually inspire the talents of Drake and The Weeknd, just to name a few. In honor of the legendary singer, here are a few of his best moments.
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
A 1960s Motown classic, this infectious jam came after a seemingly abundant number of smash hits from songwriters Brian Holland and Eddie Holland, and the way Gaye sings it with a glint in his eye became almost more iconic than the earworm itself. "Try as they might, no other vocalist could combine those two sensibilities as Gaye does here," wrote Stereogum, "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."
That’s The Way Love Is
Another earworm, "That's the Way Love Is" wasn't written for Gaye, but the soul for which Gaye calls out "that's the way love is, babe" would suggest otherwise. A lot of Gaye's early work through 1970 wasn't written by the balladeer, but his ability to elevate lyrics with emotional transparency became a niche, if not extremely marketable, talent for Gaye. On this cover of the Isley Brothers hit, Gaye enlists the help of the Funk Brothers to turn the track into a bouncy R&B smash.
I Heard It Through The Grapevine
While Gladys Knight's rendition turned the soulful ballad into a funky chart-topper, Gaye's arresting rendition of "I Heard It" will always remain superior. While Motown head Berry Gordy preferred Knight's interpretation, Gaye's rendition surprisingly caught the attention of radio DJs, who spun the track so much Gordy allowed Gaye's version to be released as a stand-alone single. Over 50 years later, and the track remains as raw and powerful as ever. The scarcity of its arrangement allows Gaye's backing string section to soar, while Gaye sings frankly about budding infidelity as if he's experiencing the roller-coaster of heartbreak in real-time. The song would go on to be Gaye's first US smash.
Marvin Gaye - Lets get it on
While Gaye's legendary love-making anthem was originally billed to him by Ed Townsend as a religious ballad, Gaye reworked it into the classic love-making hit we all know and adore. Lyrically inspired by Janis Hunter, Gaye's eventual wife, "Let's Get It On" was crammed onto so many sex playlists that it became a cliche, but for years, it was the most seductive song in the country, thanks to Gaye's smooth vocals and unrestrained passion. You could practically hear him taking off his clothes.
Listed by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, "Sexual Healing" became Gaye's calling card later in life. Riddled with IRS woes and cocaine addiction, Gaye moved to Belgium where he became introduced to Reggae. In 2012, Gordon Banks told The Atlantic that the lyrics were inspired by Gaye's intrigue for Amsterdam's Red Light District, to which his producer David Ritz said that he needs "sexual healing." Prior to 2012, a rumor floated around that Gaye's lyrical inspiration came from Gaye's sadomasochist comic book collection.
Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Gather round the Christmas tree and get ready to cry!
Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, but sometimes you're not feeling the cheer.
Or maybe you just love sad music and want to get in the holiday spirit. Whatever your reason for listening to melancholy music, there are plenty of devastating Christmas songs to help you cozy up with a cup of spiked cider and the blues. From indie gems to old classics, are our favorites.
1. McCarthy Trenching — Christmas Song
This song (which was later covered by Phoebe Bridgers) is simply devastating.
Christmas Song www.youtube.com
Phoebe Bridgers - Christmas Song (Official Audio) www.youtube.com
2. Julien Baker — Decorated Lawns
Truly, this is sad Christian queer folk in its highest form.
Julien Baker - Decorated Lawns (REMASTERED) www.youtube.com
3. Brent Butler — Brooklyn Christmas Eve
Punk Christmas never sounded so good.
Brooklyn Christmas Eve www.youtube.com
4. Sufjan Stevens — Sister Winter
Our Lonely Man of Winter has millions of options, but this apologetic and devastating song has to take the cake for Stevens' saddest holiday anthem.
Sufjan Stevens - Sister Winter www.youtube.com
5. Elvis Presley — Blue Christmas
Elvis's delivery is so blue, so dreary, so lugubrious, you feel like you're falling into a snowdrift of sadness just hearing him belt out the chorus.
Elvis Presley - Blue Christmas (Audio) www.youtube.com
6. Wham! — Last Christmas
"This year, to save me from tears, I'll give it to someone special" has to be one of the sickest burns ever to exist in a Christmas song.
Wham! - Last Christmas (Official Video) www.youtube.com
7. Taylor Swift — Christmases When You Were Mine
Taylor stabs you right in the heart with this saccharine song about missing an ex-lover.
Taylor Swift - Christmases When You Were Mine (Lyrics) www.youtube.com
8. Joni Mitchell — River
Joni Mitchell's mournful reinterpretation of "Jingle Bells" is seasonal depression distilled into sound, and it's four minutes and nine seconds of glittering, devastating brilliance.
Joni Mitchell - River (Official Audio) www.youtube.com
9. NewSong — The Christmas Shoes
It's "Christmas Shoes."
NewSong - The Christmas Shoes www.youtube.com
10. The Everly Brothers — Christmas Eve Can Kill You
Wait, it can?
EVERLY BROTHERS - Christmas Eve Can Kill You (1971) www.youtube.com
11. 7 O'Clock News/Silent Night — Simon and Garfunkel
This song is just "Silent Night" placed over a recording of the news, but as we all know, the news can be hard to listen to—and hearing it played against the soft sounds of Christmas makes the reports of violence and injustice even more difficult to tune out than usual.
7 O'clock News / Silent Night www.youtube.com
12. Prince — Another Lonely Christmas
Another lonely Christmas? How long has this been going on? Plus we all miss Prince.
Another Lonely Christmas www.youtube.com
Though it has no words, it's almost universally agreed that this song just sounds sad. That's actually because the human brain is literally wired to hear the blues in minor chords, and this song has plenty of them.
Greensleeves - best version www.youtube.com
14. Elmo & Patsy — Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer
Is Grandma ok??? Are Elmo & Patsy ok? Are any of us ok considering we made this into a Christmas classic?
Elmo & Patsy - Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer www.youtube.com
15. The Carpenters — Merry Christmas Darling
Everyone's favorite California dreamers got extra wistful on this dreary, exquisite number about heartbreak over the holidays.
Merry Christmas, Darling - The Carpenters www.youtube.com
16. Tom Waits — Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis
This song gets very real very quickly, but it does contain glimmers of hope.
Tom Waits- Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis (Studio Version) www.youtube.com
17. Marvin Gaye — I Want to Come Home For Christmas
Possibly the saddest song ever written, according to NPR.
I Want To Come Home For Christmas www.youtube.com
18. Darlene Love — Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
What could be sadder than this plea to a lost love?
Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby please come home) www.youtube.com
19. Miley Cyrus — My Sad Christmas Song
The title alone is just so sad.
Miley Cyrus - My Sad Christmas Song www.youtube.com
20. LCD Soundsystem — Christmas Will Break Your Heart
So apparently if Christmas Eve doesn't kill me, then Christmas Day will break my heart, even though last Christmas, I gave you my heart but the very next day you gave it away. This year, to save me from tears, maybe I just won't celebrate Christmas... or maybe I'll start listening to happy music instead.
LCD Soundsystem - Christmas Will Break Your Heart video www.youtube.com
So there you have it — the twenty saddest Christmas songs we know of. However, despite these songs, we hope you have a very merry holiday.
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- Have Yourself A Sullen Little Christmas : NPR ›
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- 7 heartbreaking Christmas songs that might make you cry - BBC Music ›
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