On my way into work this morning, I received an email from the Kennedy Center regarding a Marvin Gaye tribute concert this Sunday at 8pm (the same time as Game 2 of the NBA Finals, which is not smart). The lineup is pretty impressive: Whoopi Goldberg will host it, Babyface will sing, as will Audra Day, Ledisi, Jussie Smollett (from the show I don't watch, Empire), Valerie Simpson (her husband was Ashford), BJ The Chicago Kid, Mary Wilson (her former group was The Supremes) and Leslie Odom Jr. (who is playing Aaron Burr in the hit musical Hamilton), and others.
I'm not necessarily a fan of all the artists I listed, but I do know that each one of them can carry a tune and they have made enjoyable music that I have purchased in the past and probably will purchase again in the future. I preferred Ledisi the jazz artist more than I do Ledisi the-semi-crossover-singer, but this is not a bad lineup at all--except for one thing: Marvin F Gaye will NOT be there to sing.
Marvin had a unique sound. He could beg, he could croon, he could demand that you pay attention to his sexual desires, he could get deep and observational, he could make a song where he says, "I'm gonna give you some head for two straight minutes, and most importantly to me, he sang layered background vocals like no one I've heard. Those are the traits people have come to know, love and respect, and that is why Marvin's music is timeless. No one listed in that tribute concert is going to appeal to the audience's emotions the way Marvin could if he was in attendance.
Babyface is my main man who sings beautiful love songs, but let's be real..he's a little soft. The time to listen to Babyface is on the night of your wedding (if you're sober) when you want to make sweet love to your spouse. You can listen to Marvin's music in the car on the way back from playing basketball, and just storm in the house and give it to your spouse on the coffee table while they are watching television and doing meaningless things on their phone. If it was a Stevie Wonder tribute, I'd be ok with Babyface. Not for Marvin though. There are also a lot of women in the lineup who will be singing, including Valerie Simpson who co-wrote some of Marvin's hits, which is beautiful. But I don't need to hear a woman singing Marvin's songs. It isn't sexist, there are just some male artists (like Teddy P) who should always have a male covering their songs, to maintain the essence of the song. Granted, I suppose there are some songs like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" which have been covered by women before, but still, I want to hear Marvin, and I cannot, thanks to his dad gunning him down way too soon.
This same reasoning is why I have grave concerns over the Prince tributes that will coming down the pike over the next year or so during the BET Awards, the Grammys, American Music Awards, etc. I don't mind if the Wendy and Lisa, the Revolution, Rosie Gaines, Sheila E, The Time, and Questlove are involved in the tribute, because they all have played with Prince and received that elusive stamp of approval from him before he died. But there are a select group of singers who can do his songs justice, and they may not necessarily be tv-friendly, ratings grabbers, which is what television is all about. It is rare that I've seen a tribute for an artist that I liked..usually they just make me want to run and hear the original singer's catalog, and who knows maybe that's the secret motive any damn way.
And now, the aforementioned, "I'm gonna give you some head" song by Marvin Gaye called, "Soon I'll be Loving You Again". At the 1:07 mark of this song, he tells the woman that he's never given head before (which was a f**king lie Marvin), and that he would gladly make her the first one. 46 seconds later, he goes from being shy about the head-giving to just repeating "I'm gonna give you some head" for the last 90 seconds of the song. You don't really need headphones to hear it, but put them on anyway for the full effect. And then when you get home, repeat that same phrase to your man/woman, and thank Marvin(and me):