In terms of his distinguished album output, everyone knows Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Let’s Get It On, records that became landmarks in his unique career. But dig a little deeper into his back catalog and you’ll find Here, My Dear. It’s an album has been described as “the most poisonous alimony settlement of the 20th century,” but that’s missing the point.
This is a soul-opera, a raw heart-on-sleeve statement that tells the story of a couple’s love and loss in the starkest of terms – the couple being Marvin Gaye and his then-wife Anna, the sister of Motown’s founder Berry Gordy. The album came about after Gaye’s affair and separation from Anna, and their lawyers striking a deal for the impoverished Gaye to give the proceeds of his next album to his estranged wife.
Recorded in 1977 and released on December 15, 1978, following Gaye’s bitter row with Motown, Here, My Dear was met with an often lukewarm response, to his considerable distaste. That was all the more disappointing given the emotional commitment Gaye had made to an often painfully poignant depiction of a love story that begins with happiness and ends in sad recrimination.
Considered the ultimate break-up album. Here, My Dear saw Gaye bear his soul, with no consideration to current trends or taste, but with artistic abandon. The album, which entered the US chart on January 6, 1979, produced only one, modest R&B chart single in the Top 30 entry “A Funky Space Reincarnation.” The LP itself reached only No. 26 on the pop listing and No.4 R&B. A 2007 expanded reissue helped its wider appreciation, and with the passing of time, Here, My Dear went on to be viewed as an emotional, heart-wrenching opus that stands among Gaye’s finest pieces of work.