Overlooked Songs From Notorious Names – Marvin Gaye’s “Falling in Love Again”
Anguish. Paranoia. Lust. These are the words most associated to the late Marvin Gaye’s life and music. Whether he was singing in his highest register to add a voyeuristic tone to “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” or stacking background vocals to make “I Want You” seem more haunting, Marvin’s feelings were always complex and included an underbelly of doubt and bitterness. These emotions reached its tipping point on his 1979 double album, “Here, My Dear,” an uncensored opus on his divorce from Anna Gordy. Unable to pay alimony, Marvin was ordered to give the proceeds of this album to Anna. At first he was going to do a bad record, but he was compelled to purge the layout of their failed relationship. The titles say it all: “When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You,” “Is That Enough,” “Anger,” and “You Can Leave, But It’s Going To Cost You” all radiated Marvin’s resentment, cynicism and disillusionment. Here, My Dear followed a linear path of Gaye and Gordy’s 12 year marriage from courtship to chaos. That considered, the album’s last song was not expected.
After nearly 70 minutes of jaded confession, “Falling in Love Again” was a cheerful exultation of unexpected happiness. As his marriage was crumbling, Marvin fell hard for a beautiful teenage girl named Janis Hunter. His obsession for her became the muse that inspired “Let’s Get it On.” Given his complicated relationship with Anna, Marvin was apprehensive to pursue Janis beyond lustful encounters:
“She’s pretty outside and in/She’s so wonderful, I tried not to let my heart step in/What to do, babe/What do I do when somebody real comes in/Someone you feel comes in/Now I’m falling in love again.”
Gone were the minor piano keys and foreboding bass lines. Instead, Marvin’s vocal overdubs exuded a jovial tone, calling back to the days of doo-wop harmonies when love was innocent and coveted rather than confusing and deceptive. There’s a springtime atmosphere thanks to the freewheeling sax playing throughout the track, sounding like chirping robins. The intermingling of the funky drums and wah wah guitar provides a celebratory rhythm – three cheers for love!
“Here, My Dear” would be Marvin’s worst selling album and his eventual marriage to Janis Hunter ended after two years, but the album saw Marvin Gaye utilize every aspect of his musical greatness and “Falling in Love Again” was his flag still standing amidst a barrage of rockets and bombs.