Now, don't misunderstand, I love this song. But every time I hear it, I'm struck by the depth of the shallowness of this song. It stands as a true monument to superficiality. (It also probably got him laid a lot.) Now, admittedly, this was in the midst of the Free Love revival that had started in the 60s, so maybe he can be forgiven. But he didn't want your forgiveness - it was going to be another decade before he'd ask for "Sexual Healing" (and two years after that, his father, the minister, shot and killed him the day before his 45th birthday - a wound that no amount of sexual healing was going to fix).
"Let's Get It On" had originally been written as a religious song, and morphed through a protest version before becoming the classic it is today. Please note the 70s porn guitar on the opening notes, as provided by the Funk Brothers.
You don't get better than that. And the lyrics stand out as absolute classics, don't they?
I've been really tryin', baby,In retrospect, the decision to skip the Sta-Hard® cream was a mistake.
Tryin' to hold back this feelin' for so long
And if you feel like I feel, baby,But you might want to get there a little faster, baby. No Sta-Hard®, remember?
Then come on, oh, come on
Whoo, let's get it onSee? There it is. Those four little words that every girl wants to hear. Just thrown out there, to show what a sensitive, caring guy he is. And repeated a few times, just in case you didn't get the message. And just to keep us on our toes, he likes to change it up every once in a while, with perhaps a "Let's love, baby."
Whoo-ooh-oohHe moans a lot as he sings this. Understandable, I guess. But then comes the most fascinating line of the song.
We're all sensitive peopleNote the careful adjective choice there. Not "we're both sensitive people," but "we're all..." As in "Hey, you're my first choice. But if you don't want to do anything, no problem. There's plenty of other women. Check out that girl next to you. The one screaming and jumping up and down... with those big... oh, yeah, she'll be happy to take your place. I'm Marvin Gaye, bitch! There's always another choice!"
With so much to give,Go ahead. Graph that sentence for me. I dare you.
Understand me, sugar,
Since we got to be,
I love youI don't know. Somehow, that doesn't seem to be very sincere.
There's nothin' wrongWell, as long as you're both using protection, maybe.
With me lovin' you
Baby, no, no,I think what he means is, "I love you, right now. Tomorrow, I'm gone. I'll leave some cash for the taxi, but checkout time is 11:00, so you can only sleep in a little."
And givin' yourself to me can never be wrong,
If the love is true
Don't you know,This is called a non sequiter.
How sweet and wonderful life can be?
I'm askin' you, baby,Really? You aren't just pimping for your guitarist?
To get it on with me
I ain't gonna worry, I ain't gonna push"See, I threw out my back up on stage doing those pelvic thrusts, so I'm gonna have to let you do the work."
Won't push you, baby.That's the kind of subtle double entendre you can get away with when you're Marvin Gaye.
So come on, come on, come on, come on, come on, baby,
Stop beatin' 'round the bush.
He then repeats "Let's get it on" about eight hundred times,interspersed with "oohs" and "oh yeahs," and the occasional somewhat random verse.
You know what I'm talkin' 'bout,Am I the only person who got a mental image from a slasher movie right there?
Come on, baby, hey, hey,
Let your love come out
I know you knowAnd it involves another woman, three midgets, and about fifteen pounds of blueberries.
What I've been dreamin' of,
Don't you, baby?
My whole body is in love.Really, Marvin? You know, sometimes a metaphor just doesn't work. Think about it for a second. "My whole body is in love"? Really? I think the only part "in love" is sticking straight out right now.
He repeats himself a little bit here (come to think of it, he repeats himself a lot in the course of this song), before he gets to a new line.
Beggin' you, baby, I want to get it onMarvin Gaye has to beg? I'm not seein' it. (Remember, we're all sensitive people...).
And he works his way down to some more random repetition, with an extra line or two thrown in between.
If the spirit moves you, let me groove you goodNo, that's not dated at all.
He also informs you that "I've been sanctified." I'm not sure what that means, but it makes the church service a lot more interesting.
Now, this video was a live version, so he works the audience for a little at the end. It's amazing that he can utter the words "Sugar, you promised me, you said, 'Marvin, baby, this evening,' you said we could get it on," and follow it up with "I've been waiting so long," and not sound like he was whining, isn't it?
And yes, he invariably performed in a coat and vest, just so he could strip them off at the end of this song. I don't think he ever actually got the pants off, but he usually threatened it.
(How many times can he repeat variations on "let's turn the lights down low" before he ends up completely in the dark?)
Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. (April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984) - master of the delicate, caring love ballad.