“If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else.”― Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye, the legendary and now-iconic R&B, soul, funk and folk singer, is celebrated as one of the greatest vocalists of all time and enjoys a legacy of the genre like no other. “It’s what makes you happy in life, and to pursue it, I think, is brave and a wonderful thing,” Gaye once said. “I don’t care what people say. I just want to pursue what makes me happy,” he added in a quote that typifies his life and, more poignantly, it is a major aspect which is represented by his music.
Having helped shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, Gaye’s meteoric rise to international fame earned him the nicknames ‘Prince of Motown’ and ‘Prince of Soul’ as he solidified his presence across a string of extremely prolific album releases. Despite his extensive back catalogue, there are some world-famous songs that define his legacy and, without doubt, ‘Heard it Through the Grapevine’ is one of them.
The track, which was originally recorded by Gaye around 1967 not long after he broke through with ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, wouldn’t see the light of day until a decade after his death in 1994.
Written by Whitfield and Strong, ‘Grapevine’ was actually recorded twice in 1967. Firstly by Gaye and then later with a funkier version performed by Gladys Knight & The Pips. The latter rendition was more to Motown head Berry Gordy’s taste, releasing it as a single later that year and turning it into chart success. Not keen on Gaye’s version he convinced the artist to keep it for another album. However, when the radio DJs jumped on the grittier, authentic and dark version, Gordy had no choice but to release the song.
It spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard charts. It became the singer’s iconic moment. Not least because of the song’s brilliant and sparse arrangement, but Gaye’s infinite ability to play with shadows on his interpretation of the lyrics, his light and dark vocal became synonymous with the star.
Here, we revisit Marvin Gaye’s brilliance by exploring his talent through this remarkable isolated recording of his most famous hit. Enjoy it, below.