Saturday, September 8, 1973

Marvin Gaye hit #1 with “Let’s Get It On”

First posted 6/15/2011; updated 3/19/2021.

Let’s Get It On

Marvin Gaye

Writer(s): Marvin Gaye, Ed Townsend (see lyrics here)


First Charted: June 15, 1973


Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 12 HR, 4 RR, 16 RB, 31 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.4 UK, 3.4 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 189.5 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Billboard magazine called this song “one of the greatest sexual liberation anthems of all time.” BB100 “The unabashedly erotic ‘Let’s Get It On’” RH topped the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts in the U.S., but is often overshadowed by his definitive version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and his politically poignant “What’s Going On.” When it comes to sensuality and sexual explicitness, “Sexual Healing” steals some of the thunder from “Let’s Get It On” because it marked a comeback for Gaye before he was tragically shot by his father.

Ed Townsend, Gaye’s co-writer on the song, had originally conceived it with a religious theme. WK It then became a political song before evolving into what Rolling Stone called “a masterpiece of erotic persuasion.” RS500 In the liner notes for the parent album, Gaye said, “I can’t see anything wrong with sex between consenting anybodies. I think we make far too much of it.” BR1

An acquaintance of Gaye’s brought Janis Hunter to the recording session and, according to writer Ben Edmonds, she “compelled him to perform the song to her, and in so doing, it was transformed into the masterpiece of raw emotion we know so well.” CR Gaye married her after his divorce from his first wife.

The song features prominently in the movie High Fidelity. John Cusack’s character runs a record store, giving him access to more obscure music than the general population. Nonetheless, he and his girlfriend proclaim the widely popular “Let’s Get It On” as their song. When Cusack hosts a party at the movie’s conclusion, he is understandably nervous about letting co-worker Jack Black perform, convinced he’ll offend everyone. After all, Black doesn’t hold back in his opinions, such as the famous scene in which he mercilessly berates a customer for asking for Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Instead, Black surprises Cusack with a soulful version of “Let’s Get It On,” proving that even the most cynical music fans can’t deny what Gaye called the “aphrodisiac power” RS500 of the song.


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