The ‘Blurred Lines’ of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Here, My Dear’: Music as a Communication Tort and Divorce Narrative

Monday, April 3rd, 2023
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM

Add to Calendar: Add to Calendar: 2023-04-03 16:30:00 2023-04-03 18:00:00 The ‘Blurred Lines’ of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Here, My Dear’: Music as a Communication Tort and Divorce Narrative Event Description In 1977, singer Marvin Gaye—one of the most esteemed music artists of all time—did an audacious thing. Anna Gordy Gaye was divorcing Marvin and asking for one million dollars. Despite having a wildly successful career up to that point, Marvin was near financial ruin. His attorney, Curtis Shaw, hit upon an idea: Motown, Marvin's record label, had given him $305,000 as an advance for his upcoming-but-undeveloped album. Marvin would give Anna the $305,000 and pledge the first $295,000 of the royalties yielded from that recording. Instead of one million dollars, Anna agreed to $600,000, as did Motown's CEO Berry Gordy, Anna's brother. The judge wrote up an Order to that effect. Composed, written and vocalized by Marvin alone, he first thought to do "nothing heavy, nothing even good." Then he changed his mind. The album that resulted? A brilliantly unsettling poison pen to and about Anna, sardonically titled Here, My Dear. Released in December 1978, Here, My Dear laid bare to the world a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. From the double album's jacket illustrations and lyrics, down to the vocal colors and tones Marvin deploys, Anna is portrayed as greedy, vengeful and manipulative. The work was so upsetting to her that Anna publicly threatened to sue Marvin. Professor Adamson’s talk explores the legal dimensions of that threat, and whether Here, My Dear conforms to or confounds frameworks that  inform the performance of masculinity. Speaker Bryan Adamson, MA, JD, David L. Brennan Chaired Professor of Law, School of Law Associate Dean of Diversity, School of Law Contact this Event Coordinator Eric Siler 216.368.1806  eric.siler@case.edu Case Western Reserve University Law School Moot Courtroom 11075 East Blvd George Gund Hall Cleveland, OH 44106 School of Law School of Law America/New_York public

1.5 hours of CLE credit, pending approval

Event Description

In 1977, singer Marvin Gaye—one of the most esteemed music artists of all time—did an audacious thing. Anna Gordy Gaye was divorcing Marvin and asking for one million dollars. Despite having a wildly successful career up to that point, Marvin was near financial ruin. His attorney, Curtis Shaw, hit upon an idea: Motown, Marvin's record label, had given him $305,000 as an advance for his upcoming-but-undeveloped album. Marvin would give Anna the $305,000 and pledge the first $295,000 of the royalties yielded from that recording. Instead of one million dollars, Anna agreed to $600,000, as did Motown's CEO Berry Gordy, Anna's brother. The judge wrote up an Order to that effect.

Composed, written and vocalized by Marvin alone, he first thought to do "nothing heavy, nothing even good." Then he changed his mind. The album that resulted? A brilliantly unsettling poison pen to and about Anna, sardonically titled Here, My Dear.

Released in December 1978, Here, My Dear laid bare to the world a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. From the double album's jacket illustrations and lyrics, down to the vocal colors and tones Marvin deploys, Anna is portrayed as greedy, vengeful and manipulative. The work was so upsetting to her that Anna publicly threatened to sue Marvin.

Professor Adamson’s talk explores the legal dimensions of that threat, and whether Here, My Dear conforms to or confounds frameworks that  inform the performance of masculinity.

Speaker

Bryan Adamson, MA, JD, David L. Brennan Chaired Professor of Law, School of Law Associate Dean of Diversity, School of Law

Contact this Event Coordinator

Eric Siler

216.368.1806 

eric.siler@case.edu

Event Location

Case Western Reserve University Law School
Moot Courtroom
11075 East Blvd
George Gund Hall
Cleveland, OH 44106

Photo of Bryan Adamson