Classic Album Series: Marvin Gaye – I Want You

Written by on November 19, 2014

Last week I did a post on the greatest runs of classic albums. In this feature Classic Album Series, I will take a look at each of those albums in depth. Sharing my thoughts on why I feel each album is a classic. First up this week is Marvin Gaye – I Want You.

Black lights, incense, a little wine, and great company from the queen of your dreams has to be the perfect scenario. And for moments like this, what better soundtrack is there than Marvin Gaye’s I Want You? If I had to pick one album that helped me create during the “Magic Hour” it would have to be this one. No other album captures the feelings of the perfect quiet storm better than this masterpiece. When Marvin released I Want You, he was at the peak of his creative powers and it showed throughout the album.

No other album in my vast collection has taught me more about love than I Want You. Not only was it the perfect r&b album, but it was also a concept album in truest sense of the word. I Want You is the story of a relationship from start to finish, and back around to the start again possibly. It is the story of love lost, and found, only to be lost again.

To understand I Want You, you have to look at the back-story. The album was a biological opus for Marvin who at the time was in an estranged marriage with Anna Gordy, while in a love affair with Janis Hunter. The album served as an official tribute to the new love of his life, Janis, and the raw emotions that he felt for her were on display.  The songs from I Want You were heavy in sexual nature, which was evident in the fact that many of them had females moaning in the background, which in 1976 was about as explicit as one could get. Gaye also sung about topics that were taboo to speak of at that time such as “giving head”, which he sang about on the song “Soon I’ll Be Loving You Again”.

The album opens with the song “I Want You”, a song about a lover that doesn’t quite return the love back to Marvin whole heartedly. This song sets the tempo and mood for the rest of the album in the fact that Marvin would spend the rest of the album trying to get this lover to love him back “someway, somehow”.

The next song on the album is “Come Live with Me Angel”, here Marvin confesses to his love that he needs her to live with him and that he needs her love at least three times a day in all kinds of ways. All she needs to do is come live with him.

Come Live With Me Angel

By the time the track listing gets to “Feel All My Love Inside”, the erotic tone is in full swing. Marvin is continuing to lust after Janis, telling her how they can make love day and night. He also expresses how he loves to hear her make “those sounds”, that we hear in the background.

Sometime between “Feel All My Love Inside” and “All The Way Round”, things between Marvin and his Angel didn’t quite work out. During the separation the Angel begins to have affairs with other men around town leaving Marvin heartbroken in the process. They eventually meet back up and this is where All The Way Round picks up climactic steam.

Marvin runs into his old Angel and of course wants to resume their relationship even though she has been around. He confesses to her that she is the best he ever had, and even though she has been promiscuous he would love to lay with her again. And apparently somewhere in the song the two have relations. However, Marvin being open as he is shows his vulnerability to her and lets her know that if she leaves him again his “poor heart could never mend.” Angel then explains to him that maybe they should be sometime lovers because she can’t be faithful to him. Ouch!!! ”That is when (his) poor heart broke up.” And he ends the song declaring “Well if you got a girl and you want her for your wife you got to treat her good and love her all your life.” Poor Marvin was whipped!

All The Way ‘Round

Next Marvin bumps into his reputed lover once again in “Since I Had You”. This time the ex-lovers bump into each other at a neighborhood dance and he convinces her to come home with him to make love one more time like they did in the old days. He also expresses once again that he has not been with anyone else since he had her, and since they are friends let’s make love once again.

Since I Had You

By the time he gets to Soon I’ll Be Loving You Again, you can feel the genuine lust Marvin has for Janis. He basically lays it out to her detailing what he would like to do to her once again.

Soon I’ll Be Loving You Again is followed by the I Want You (reprise). This leads to the After The Dance conclusion. Marvin is once again letting his lover know that after the dance he and Angel should ride out and do what they do. He explains to her she looked so good in the Soul Train line and that since she wanted him and he wanted her let’s get together after the dance.

After The Dance

And just like that it is over. Did she go home with Marvin after the dance? Did she stop running around town with the local dudes, or did Angel finally rest her wings at Castle De Marvin? That is the everlasting question that remains after the final note plays away.

So Marvin I am sending a thank-you to the Essence, for the lovely creation I Want You. That album served as the ultimate sound track plenty a night.


Reader's opinions
  1. jinakisweetness   On   January 19, 2010 at 11:57 am

    another great analysis. good stuff! i had heard “i want you” so many times in my house growing up, but didn’t really ‘get it’ until i was grown. lol. i’d heard some of this back-story before, but not as in-depth. thanks!

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