Take a look at the below list of Marvin Gaye Top 10 Songs and Albums of All Time. Marvin Gaye was a legendary songwriter and singer. Gaye kick-started his career as an in-house session singer and player for Motown. Later, he began his solo career, a move that bore great hits such as “Ain’t that peculiar” and “What’s Going On.” Unfortunately, Gaye came to an untimely death in 1984, after his father shot him at their home in Los Angeles. After his death, the great vocalist continued getting awards such as Grammy’s Songwriter Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
List of Top 10 songs by Marvin Gaye of all time
10. Inner City Blues- 1971
Inner City Blues is the story of the inequities that go on in the city. In the song, Gaye bears witness to the vast income inequality and degradation of social norms, things that undermine the social structure of the city. Such a song in the hands of another singer would have ended up with lots of wailing and hollering, but that is not what Gaye, and the co-songwriter, James Nyx, saw fit. The song has heartbreaking lines such as “Bills pile up sky high” and “Send that boy off to die.” The emotions the song stirs up even in the most rigid men makes it one of the greatest songs Gaye did.
9. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough- 1967
This song is a hit from the time Marvin Gaye was still in Motown. The song is a partnership between Gaye and Tammi Terrell. The lyrics were the work of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, a husband and wife songwriting team. The result was a romantic song that anyone could dance to. After this duet, the Gaye and Terrell partnership continued. The duo sang more songs written by Simpson and Ashford. Unfortunately, duets from the two amazing voices were short-lived as Terrell died of a brain tumor in 1970, at the age of 25.
8. You’re All I Need to Get By- 1968
“You’re All I Need To Get By” is another Gaye and Terrell hit. This song clearly proved to the world how great the two singers were. The truth remains that the two were fantastic on their own, but they brought out the best in each other. With Terrell’s expertise on stage and Gaye’s three-octave vocal range, the story in this song could not have been told any better. The song is a conversation between a couple over anniversary dinner, but don’t get any ideas, sex isn’t the theme.
7. I Want You- 1976
Over the years, musicians have sung about “wanting” in all senses and all styles. But, none have put it as right as Gaye puts it in this hit, which was written by Leon Ware. The song combines exemplary disco trappings, great vocals (of course) and a great message. Gaye insists that “wanting” should be a mutual feeling, “To share is precious, pure and fair.” Dancing to this song as you listen to the lyrics will leave you with slight groans of pleasure. All you will need after that is to say those three words to someone you cherish; “I want You.”
6. Got to Give It Up- 1977
“Got To Give It Up” features in Gaye’s album that was a recording of the London tour he embarked on after the release of “I Want You.” The Live Album featured this song as the only studio recording. The song was a response to Motown’s pressure on him to release a song to satisfy the then insatiable demand for disco songs. The song is a twelve-minute disco parody, but you can also listen to the four-minute version of the song that is the final half of the song. Both versions showcased Gaye’s incredible vocals and his ability to compose funk songs. It is rumored that the song inspired Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams were fined for copyright infringement involving this song in their great jam “Blurred Lines.”
5. What’s Going On- 1971
‘What’s Going On’ is a hit from his first solo album titled the same. Initially, the track was labeled “the worst song I have ever heard” by Motown’s director, Berry Gordy. With this hit, Gaye went against Motown’s formula and sang about the suffering of humanity. His experiences, together with the experiences of his brother who returned from the Vietnam War to a plague of injustice, inspired the whole concept of this song. After the overall reception of the song, it topped US Charts; Gordy went back on his words. This is one of the Marvin Gaye Top 10 Songs of All Time.
4. ‘How Sweet it Is (To Be Loved By You) – 1965’
A track that arguably one of the best of Motown Sounds. The track was first recorded by Gaye in 1964 and later covered by the likes of James Taylor, Oz and Heather (American Pie), and the Grateful Dead. The quality of the lyrics coupled with the way Gaye sings it makes this one of the best romantic songs of all time. Whether the story was a real experience or a bedtime romance fantasy, Gaye brings to life a perfect guy who you would bring home to meet your family, but the guy is crazy enough for a quick sneak to the bathroom for a quickie before dinner is served.
3. Mercy, Mercy Me- 1971
Mercy, Mercy Me was the second single Gaye released after ‘What’s Going On.’ Like the latter, this track also covered the atrocities of the Vietnam War. In this song, Gaye lamented about the environmental effects of the chemical weapons used by the US military to destroy the vegetation the Vietcong used as cover. The same vegetation was Vietnamese source of food. Mercy, Mercy Me is one of the four songs to feature in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
2. Let’s get it on- 1973
‘Let’s Get It On’ was initially written by Ed Townsend as a religious song after he recovered from alcoholism. However, Gaye rewrote it to a romantic song with high sexual charge, like all songs in the album titled the same. The lyrics were the inspiration of Janis Hunter, a young girl who was later to become Gaye’s wife. The song topped Billboard Charts for two weeks straight.
1. I heard it Through the Grapevine- 1968
‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ was one of Motown’s greatest selling hit. The first version was recorded by Gladys Knight and the Pip’s in 1967 as a single. However, Gaye did the song, written by Norman Whitfield and Barret Strong, justice as he was working on an album. Gaye’s paranoid interpretation of the lyrics and the slow tempo, compared to Knight’s version, saw the song top the Billboard charts- the single was Gaye’s first No.1, which remained in that position for seven weeks. The song is a story of a love affair gone wrong.
Marvin Gaye Song All Time
Sexual Healing- 1982
Marvin Gaye was amid drug addiction, disagreements with Motown and financial crisis towards the end of the 70’s and early 80’s. He split ways with Motown in 1982 and signed with Columbia, where he recorded his final album. ‘Sexual Healing’ was a combination of funk and reggae. The song’s sexually suggestive lyrics make it a perfect choice for a romantic dinner’s background, “Baby I am hot like an oven, I need some lovin.” The track won him the Grammy Award for the Best Male R&B and Vocal Performance in 1983.
Compiling a list of 10 songs from Gaye’s catalog was an uphill task, considering the man was pure talent. The circumstances surrounding his death were sad. Maybe this list would have turned out different had he lived longer. His songs still continue to sell even in this new era of contemporary music.