“Got To Give It Up (Pt. 1)” by Marvin Gaye (1977)

OK, I’m going to say this now and not bring it up again. The lawsuit the Gaye family brought (and won) against Pharrell and Robin Thicke for “Blurred Lines” is ridiculous. Yes, “Blurred Lines” was clearly inspired by “Got To Give It Up”. But the two songs aren’t the same. The melody lines are different, the instrumentation is different. And where is the line that delineates what constitutes being inspired by and stealing? Should Daryl Hall go after Michael Jackson’s estate because “I Can’t Go For That” served as inspiration for “Billie Jean”?

At any rate, none of this ultimately reflects on Marvin Gaye one way or the other because the man’s been dead for thirty five years. “Got To Give It Up” is still a jam. And in typical contrarian Marvin Gaye fashion, it’s a disco-styled song about a guy who’s not really sure if he wants to dance. He’s at a party, kinda being a wallflower. He’s too shy to cut loose. But between the music and the ladies¹, he finally gets up the courage to “give it up” and decides to party down.

“Got To Give It Up” is essentially a party on wax. Marvin kinda dispenses with the melody after the first verse and there’s not really a chorus. Traditional song structure kinda gets tossed to the side for this one, and when you strip it all the way down, it’s all about that sweet falsetto and a groove that just won’t quit. The chatting that runs throughout the background of the song adds to the house party vibe. The album version of “Got To Give It Up” extends the party a few minutes past a running time I’m comfortable with (it’s twelve minutes long), but the A-side of the 45 version (which splits the song in half) is absolutely perfect.

¹-since we’re talking about Marvin Gaye, I’d have to imagine cocaine would’ve loosened him up along with the women and the music, but he doesn’t make any drug references in the actual song.

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