Friday Fun, Songs from Before My Birth, #8

"Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" by Marvin Gaye (1969)

Here's a way to figure out if someone is a great musician.  Listen to all of their cover songs, or songs that have been also done by someone else.  If having done that, you find yourself thinking "wow, it's not just that this person's version of some songs are the best version, but his version of every song is the best version," then you have found a great musician.

We might call this the "Marvin Gaye" test, because Gaye's version of all of those Motown classics is almost always the best version--sorry Smokey, but he has the definitive version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."  And then on top of being the standards king, he produced a ton of his own unique and original music as well.

People tend to divide Gaye's catalog into three phases: the early Motown phase, the middle, political phase (the era of "What's Goin' On?" and "Trouble Man") and the later, funky/sexy phase ("Sexual Healing," "Let's Get It On," "Got To Give It Up").  All of three have their virtues, and the drop at the beginning of "Let's Get It On" puts all of the drops in all of last ten years of popular music to shame.

But I decided to go with an early song that I have always really liked.  "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" really shows off Gaye's effortlessly smooth voice.  If you have ever tried to do this song in Karaoke (like, well, I have...), you will quickly find that it is extremely difficult--there are a ton of high notes and awkward transitions.  Gaye makes it sound absolutely effortless, like he's not even trying very hard.  This gives the song a pleasant, unaffected sound, setting it apart from the too-often self-serious love songs.  Not all love songs have to be try-hards, and it is nice to hear the musical representation of "life is good, this person is good, I am happy."

I mentioned before that some music can make you vaguely dissatisfied with your life; well, this has the opposite effect on me.  Listening to this song just makes me feel better about everything in an unspecified way.  That's worth something right there.


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