“I Want You” is the lead single off of the 1976 album of the same name that would go on to become one of Marvin Gaye’s most successful records.Having struggled to come up… Read More
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“I Want You” is the lead single off of the 1976 album of the same name that would go on to become one of Marvin Gaye’s most successful records.
Having struggled to come up with material since releasing Let’s Get it On, Marvin teamed up with fellow Motown musician Leon Ware to help him write and produce the record. Ware initially composed much of the music in the same vein as his own similarly erotic-themed album, Musical Massage, with low-key production and steamy after-the-party beats and vocals.
I Want You, however, evolved into a sensual autobiographical narrative centered around Marvin’s real life love affair with Janis Hunter. Marvin and Janis met in 1973 which influenced his music from Let’s Get it On until the end of his career. I Want You’s lyrical content is heavily based on his attraction to a woman whom he initially asks for reciprocated love from, then to live, feel his love and dance with him. The sentiment is delivered so passionately that Marvin calls Janis’s name throughout the album in different songs.
As author Michael Eric Dyson wrote in his book, Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Loves, and Demons of Marvin Gaye:
“I Want You is unmistakably a work of romantic and erotic tribute to the woman he deeply loved and would marry shortly, Janis Hunter. Gaye’s obsession with the woman in her late teens is nearly palpable in the sensual textures that are the album’s aural and lyrical signature. Their relationship was relentlessly passionate and emotionally rough-hewn; they played up each other’s strengths, and played off each other’s weaknesses.”