Friday, February 22, 2013

Marvin Gaye for a Friday - Duet Love Edition


Strictly platonic. That is the description used for the partnership of Marvin Gaye and his duet partner Tammi Terrell. It's cute to read little descriptions of their duet career. She's the extrovert. He's the shy one. He was the young prince of Motown who always wanted to be a crooner, and she was the lesser talent who would never be Diana but could use the help to her career. Their voices sound fantastic together. The semi-scatting that Marvin would do to back Tammi's vocals at times was a cool, organic sounding touch to their songs. They worked their magic together for a few albums. Terrell collpased onstage, was diagnosed with cancer, and eventually died at an incredibly young age. It would be an understatement to say that Marvin Gaye was distraught and depressed by her death. Nothing happened between them.
 
Did they really get down? Gaye was married to Berry Gordy's sister for over a decade, unable to have children, and even if he wanted to, Berry Gordy's sister looked like Berry Gordy in a wig. That might have messed with him. Supposedly, Gaye had a bad marriage and was a moody man, yet he never stepped out on his bitchy, man faced wife with the hot little thing that sang loving duets with him on long tours? Never? Men and women can't purely be friends. At some point something must have happened. Why else would Marvin break down so hard at her collapse and later death? His first album after Terrell's death in 1970 was the 'socially conscious' and devoid of any love songs album "What's Going On?". Marvin Gaye was a love song making machine, yet he made a concept album with not a single love song right after Terrell's death? Not a single love song until 1973? Come on.
 
There is another alternative. Maybe Marvin Gaye was Tammi Terrell's beta orbiter. Gaye was a success, but not yet the megastar that he was in the '70s. Gaye was also described as shy and depressed, which does work sometimes, but it seems like he might get outshone at a Motown party if he was an introvert. Looking at their duet career, it makes sense that Gaye may have been the nicer guy that Terrell came to with her problems from the jerks she dated. She gets sick and then dies, and Gaye's love is never ever returned. It's a great unrequited love pair (if it happened). It also makes more sense why Gaye would produce the dark album "What's Going On?" and not release a baby making album or song until 1973. That is roughly three years after Terrell's death. For a guy who cranked out love songs, that's a weird gap. Sure, Gaye and Terrell's relationship was strictly platonic but not by his choice.
 
Here's my favorite duet of theirs, "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby". I love when they sing in unison, "no other sound is quite the same as your name, no touch can do half as much". For the love of God Hollywood, make a miniseries or movie based on Gaye's career.

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