[Note: Originally posted on Feb 24, 2011. Updated with notes and new observations]
I first wrote about this song 8 years ago. I haven’t ported that post over to this platform yet, but to summarize:
- Marvin Gaye had an affair with a 17-year old woman by name of Janis Hunter (his muse for the classic I Want You album).
- Anna (his then wife) filed for divorce and Marvin was forced to pay a large sum of money.
- Marvin was going through the nose candy like Tony Montana; as a result he can’t pay everything.
- The lawyers negotiate an agreement that some of the payment would come from Marvin’s next album.
But I can’t understand, is if you loved me, how could you turn me into the police?
– Marvin Gaye, “When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You”
That next album is Here, My Dear, where he puts his relationship with Anna on front street (the romance, the problems, the new relationship with Janis).While the album is a mixed bag of disco and instrumentals, there are a few gems – like “Anna’s Song” and my number 4 break up song.
“When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You” (besides maybe having the longest title in soul music history), is a 6 minute ode to Anna and Marvin’s break-up. He’s uncomfortably transparent in the song, singing lyrics like: “But I can’t understand, is if you loved me, how could you turn me into the police?”, “You’ve got judgment on your side, you’ve said bad things and you’ve lied”, and “If you ever loved me with all of your heart, you’d never take a million dollars to part”.
To paraphrase the late, great Notorious B.I.G. – “Damn, why she wanna stick me for my paper?”1