Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Sexual Healing

by

Marvin Gaye



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Gaye wrote this in Ostend, a resort town on the coast of Belgium. He went there in 1981 to relax and recover from his drug problems. He stayed for 18 months before returning to the US.
The renown writer David Ritz gave Gaye the idea for this song. Gaye had a large collection of pornography, to the point that many of his friends felt he was addicted to porn. When he noticed the collection, Ritz told Gaye he needed some "Sexual Healing," and Marvin had him write some words which became the lyrics to the song. Ritz told Songwriter Universe: "As I was writing the lyric, I was trying to capture Marvin's voice and style as a singer. He said, 'That lyric sounds like me.' The lyric seemed to fit into his philosophical musings and his personal, emotional needs, so he could sing about it with complete honesty."

Gaye had invited Ritz to Ostend to help write his biography - Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye. Ritz has also written biographies for Ray Charles, Buddy Guy, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King and Janet Jackson.
David Ritz was not given a writing credit for this, but was thanked in the liner notes for inspiring the song title. This broke his friendship with Gaye, as Ritz sued for a songwriter credit. Co-composer Odell Brown, who was also Gaye's keyboard player, claimed he didn't have any knowledge of Ritz's contribution to the song title, let alone any lyrics. After Gaye died, Ritz won his case and got the credit, which now reads: Odell Brown/Marvin Gaye/David Ritz.
Gaye had a lot of success writing very sexual songs and built a reputation as a ladies' man, but he was the son of a preacher and struggled with his religious values. This conflict tormented him for years and inspired the biography title Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye, by David Ritz.
When Gaye left Belgium and toured to support the Midnight Love album, he started using drugs again and became mentally unstable. He moved in with his parents and was shot and killed by his father after an argument on April 1, 1984 – the day before his 45th birthday. His father claimed he shot him in self-defense.
This was the first single Gaye released after leaving Motown Records. He spent 20 tumultuous years with the label, which included disputes over royalties and his marriage to and divorce from Berry Gordy's sister, Anna. He recorded this album for CBS Records.
This won a Grammy in 1982 for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male. The instrumental version also won for Best R&B Instrumental.
DJ Max-A-Million did a remix of this song in 1995 that became very popular in dance clubs. Michael Bolton covered the song in 2000 for his Timeless: The Classics, Vol. 2 album. His version peaked at #28 on the US Adult Contemporary chart.
Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye Artistfacts
More Marvin Gaye songs
More songs that won Grammys
More songs involved in lawsuits
More songs about sex

Comments (7):

I absolutely love this site and finding all these artists that I used to listen to when I was younger it really brings me back. Marvin Gaye was one of my idols and the news of his death killed a part of me as corny as that sounds, but his spirit lives on. I hope this new generation doesn't forget where real music came from. May he rest in peace forever. Teena Marie wrote an older song called My Dear Mr. Gaye dedicated to Marvin. If you have not yet heard this song, I strongly recommend it. She says that he will always be in every woman's heart and I'll bethe first to testify to that.
- Piper Bailey, san francisco, GA
Interestingly, this song uses a Roland TR-808 drum machine.
- Chris, Charleston, SC
Kate Bush cover is ... er.. Ok. Let's say acceptable. It's still a good song. But Ben Harper's numerous live versions for this song are much better. Still the original keeps that special taste that makes it so sensually healing.
- JL, Bretagne, France
things whent the way gaye wanted them to...
as far as i know, gaye bought the gun himself and asked his father to shoot him...
his father also said "i am going to take him out befor a white man does"
and there also is a minor default in the writer credits with sexual healing... David Ritz had no credits in writing the song, only in its title...
gaye told ritz when he said to him "you need some sexual healing" - "that would make a fine title" and that gaye would mension his name on the album, ritz later sued him and won...

if you can read a little dutch here's a link:
http://www.humo.be/dehumofiles/2004/gaye.htm

if my info is incorect, sorry and please report :)
- maxim, Brugge, Belgium
A very beautiful song. If Marvin Gaye stayed in Belgium, maby he would still be there. It's just too bad things happened like that. He had a beautiful voice and I love most of his songs.
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
Okay firstly. This has now been covered by Ben Harper as a tribute to Gaye.
Secondly this song helped and hindered Gaye after his fall from the top it helped him get back to the top but he also managed to restart his drug addiction which annoyed his friends.
- Edan, Melbourne, Australia
Get hold of the 'Sexual Healing Sessions' to get an idea of how the recording of this classic song (and Gaye's last original album) evolved.
C.J. Ganter, Hof / Saale (Germany)
- C.J., Hof / Saale, Germany
You have to to post comments.
James Williamson of Iggy & the StoogesJames Williamson of Iggy & the Stooges
The Stooges guitarist (and producer of the Kill City album) talks about those early recordings and what really happened with David Bowie.
Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")
Phil was a songwriter, producer and voice behind many Philadelphia soul classics. When disco hit, he got an interesting project: The Village People.
Bass Player Scott EdwardsBass Player Scott Edwards
Scott was Stevie Wonder's bass player before becoming a top session player. Hits he played on include "I Will Survive," "Being With You" and "Sara Smile."
Modern A Cappella with Peder Karlsson of The Real GroupModern A Cappella with Peder Karlsson of The Real Group
The leader of the Modern A Cappella movement talks about the genre.