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Song Stories

“Sexual Healing”

Marvin Gaye | 1982

After dealing with depression, financial troubles and drug abuse, Gaye went to Belgium to regroup. While there, he hung out with friend and biographer David Ritz, who sensed the inner conflict Gaye faced between his spiritual upbringing and his sex-and-drugs lifestyle. "When I suggested he needed sexual healing, he laughed and quickly agreed," Ritz wrote in Rolling Stone. A rhythm track written by sideman Odell Brown, Ritz continued, would help spark this major comeback hit. "Lyrics came pouring out of me while he sang the melody over Odell's chords. We jammed for a half-hour, and 'Sexual Healing' was written."

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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