Music and law often interact in interesting ways. Lately, I have been thinking about a record that for whatever reason had a big impact on me thirty years ago – Marvin Gaye's Here My Dear a double-album released at the end of 1978.
What I had nearly forgotten was the fact that the album was designed by Gaye and his attorney as part of a divorce settlement with his first wife (Berry Gordy's sister) Anna. Ostensibly, because Marvin could not afford to pay alimony or child support he and his attorney came up with the concept of assigning the royalties from his next album to his former spouse – and like the great artist he was, Marvin took the concept and ran with it. Many artists have done "break-up" albums (David Allen Coe, Bob Dylan and Bryan Ferry come to mind) but Marvin Gaye traces the entire course of a relationship from beginning to painful end. All of this is contained in one of the most over-the-top sleeve designs of the '70's. The album also contains one of the great romantic couplets of all time: "Somebody tell me please, why do I have to pay attorney's fees?".
Marvin Gaye was a troubled soul but a genius whose career was tragically cut short. His contributions to music are legendary; it is nice to be able to note his singular contribution to family law.