Marvin Gaye

Distant Lover

Composed by Gwen Fuqua / Marvin Gaye / Sandra Greene

Song Review by

Marvin Gaye's ultra-seductive Let's Get It On overflows with overtly seductive numbers like its title track and "You Sure Love to Ball," but its most seductive moment may be its subtlest: "Distant Lover." The lyrics chronicle the yearning its narrator feels for a romantic partner who is "so many miles away" as he alternately pleads for her return and laments the emptiness he feels without her. The music undercuts the heartbroken feel of the lyrics with a lullaby-like style that drifts along, recycling the same yearning chord progression to haunting effect. Marvin Gaye's studio recording enhances the dreamy style of the song with stately horn and strings, tumbling drum fills that gently nudge the song along, and mellow, doo wop-styled background vocals that echo "love her, you love her" under his romantic pleas. Gaye fulfills the song's promise with a rich vocal that builds from a heartbroken croon to an impassioned wail. It worked both as romantic mood piece and a showcase for Gaye's considerable vocal skills. Both of these factors made "Distant Lover" a big favorite at concerts. A particularly steamy version of this song, complete with wailing female fans in the background, was captured on his 1974 Live album. A single release of this live version became a stopgap hit for Gaye (Top 15 on the R&B chart, Top 30 on the pop chart) during the three-year gap between Let's Get It On and I Want You.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Let's Get It On 1973 Island / Motown
Live! 1974 Motown / UMC (Universal Catalogue) 6:15
Anthology [1974] 1974 Motown 3:54
Live at the London Palladium 1977 Motown / PolyGram 5:31
What's Going On/Let's Get It On 1980 Motown 4:15
Marvin Gaye's Greatest Hits 1981 Motown 5:59
Live: The Magic Collection 1983 Arc Music 9:38
A Musical Testament 1964-1984 1988 Motown / Universal Distribution 4:07
The Marvin Gaye Collection 1990 Motown
Greatest Hits Live 1990 Intercontinental Records 8:07
Greatest Hits Live [Video] 1991 Eagle Vision
The Last Concert Tour 1991 Giant / Giant 3:51
Art Laboe's Dedicated to You, Vol. 4 1994
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 5:17
The Master 1961-1984 1995 Island / Island/Def Jam / Motown / Universal 6:22
Anthology: The Best of Marvin Gaye 1995 Motown 3:28
Cruzin' to Motown 1995
Various Artists
Thump Records 6:00
Baddest Love Jams, Vol. 1 1995
Various Artists
Motown 4:16
Classics Collection 1995 Motown 4:17
The Man, The Music, The Legend 1996 Arts Recordings
Live [Newsound] 1996 Newsound 9:39
In Concert [Public Music] 1997 Public Music 9:42
Funk Ballads 1997
Various Artists
Chronicles / Polygram 3:56
Forever Yours 1997 DTS Entertainment / Digital Sound 4:15
Selection of Marvin Gaye: The Man, The Music, The Legend 1998 Golden Sounds 9:38
Great Marvin Gaye: Live 1998 AdD / Goldies 9:42
Marvin Is 60: A Tribute Album 1999
Various Artists
Motown 4:15
No Image 1999 Motown 4:16
No Image 1999 Excelsior Recordings 8:06
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Marvin Gaye, Vol. 2 2000 Motown / Uptown/Universal 3:59
R&B Live!: Essentials 2000
Various Artists
Hip-O / Polygram 5:58
Body + Soul: Sweet Seduction 2000
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:15
Universal Masters Collection 2000 Motown
Love Soul Classics 2000
Various Artists
Hip-O 6:06
The Final Concert 2000 The Right Stuff 9:36
Live: The Real Thing 2000 Edeltone 9:36
The Sexual Healer 2000 METRODOME 9:39
Let's Get It On/Here, My Dear 2000 Universal Distribution 4:17
Sexual Healing [St. Clair] 2000 Import
Live in Concert [Town Sound/South Park] 2001 Park South Records / Town Sound/South Park 9:39
Slow Cuts by Romeo, Vol. 1 2001
Various Artists
Romeo Entertainment 4:14
The Very Best of Marvin Gaye [Motown 2001] 2001 Hip-O 6:19
Final Concert [Planet Media] 2001 Planet 8:07
On Tour 2001 Town Sound 9:39
WDAS 105.3 FM: Classic Soul Hits, Vol. 6 2001
Various Artists
Collectables 4:18
The Legends Collection 2001 Dressed To Kill 9:38
The Marvin Gaye Collection, Vol. 2 2001 Dressed To Kill 9:38
The Sound of Motortown Detroit 2002
Various Artists
Goldies 8:00
No Image 2002 Laserlight 9:29
Performance 2002 Goldenlane 9:39
Soul Classics, Vol. 6 [Collectables] 2002
Various Artists
Collectables 4:18
Free Soul: The Classics of Marvin Gaye 2002 Motown 4:12
Gold Collection: More Soul Ballads 2002
Various Artists
St. Clair 9:43
Live: Marvin Gaye & Freddie Jackson 2003 Blumountain Records 9:39
Rocking After Midnight: The Last Concert 2003 Dynamic 8:04
Live in Montreux 2003 Eagle Records 6:56
Live in Montreux 1980 [Video] 2003 Eagle Vision
Greatest Hits Live [Delta] 2003 Laserlight 4:12
The Marvin Gaye Collection [2003] 2003 Motown 4:53
The Concert Anthology 2004 Cleopatra / Goldenlane 9:39
Ultimate Collection 2004 Universal International 6:21
Music Legends: Marvin Gaye in Concert 2004 Music Deluxe (UK) 9:39
The Best of Marvin Gaye [Motown 2001] 2004 Universal Distribution / Motown / Um3 / Universal
Back 2 Back 2004 Masters / Double Play Records 8:08
Greatest Hits/Rockin' After Midnight 2004 Laserlight 4:12
Sexy Soul Men 2004
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:57
Live [2005] 2004 United Audio Entertainment 9:39
Let's Get It On [Pazzazz Collection] 2004 Pazzazz 8:06
Let's Get It On: Live 2004 Mojo Music (Independent) 9:39
Gold 2005 Motown / Universal 6:19
Body And Soul: Soul Fantasy 2005
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:15
Chronicles 2005 Motown 4:16
Joy 2005
Joy
Yeaah! Records
The Essential Marvin Gaye [Mastercuts] 2005 Mastercuts 8:06
What's Going On: The Life & Death of Marvin Gaye/Greatest Hits Live in 1976 2005 Eagle Records
Golden Legends: Marvin Gaye Live 2006 Madacy 9:42
Legend, Live and Forever 2006 Lightyear 5:52
Real Thing: In Performance 1964-1981 [Hip-O DVD] 2006 Hip-O
The Real Thing: In Performance 1964-1981 [Motown DVD] 2006 Motown / Universal
The Collection [Musicmania] 2006 Brilliant / Musicmania 3:40
What's Going On [DVD] 2006 Eagle Vision
Bits & Pieces About Marvin Gaye 2006 Delta Distribution 6:36
Soul Legends 2006 Universal Distribution
Best of Marvin Gaye: Live [Direct Source] 2006 Direct Source 5:02
The Very Best of Marvin Gaye [Mastersong] 2006 Mastersong 9:43
Soul Immortal 2006 Allegro Corporation / American Legends 4:14
No Image 2006 CD Horizon
Sexual Healing [DFP] 2006 Dfp
The Real Thing: In Performance 1964-1981 [DVD/CD] 2006 Universal Distribution
Live in Concert: The Platinum Artist Series [St. Clair] 2007 St. Clair 6:44
Colour Collection 2007 Universal Distribution 3:54
Live! [Bayberry] 2007 Bayberry Records 5:03
The Essential Collection [The Exclusives] 2007 The Exclusives 9:43
Marvin Gaye [Madacy] 2007 Madacy 9:42
Very Best of Marvin Gaye/Montreux 1980 2007 Universal Distribution
Marvin Gaye [St. Clair] 2007 St. Clair 5:14
50 2007
50
Universal 4:16
Live, Disc 2 2007 St. Clair 5:14
Music of Your Life: Best of Marvin Gaye 2008 Diamond Recordings 9:40
Marvin Gaye for Lovers 2008 Q Records 5:16
Playlist Plus 2008 Motown 6:18
Classics 2008 Motown / Universal 5:31
Playlist Your Way 2008 Motown 4:19
The Ultimate Live Collection 2008 Goldenlane 9:39
The Masters Collection 2008 Spectrum Music 3:55
The Complete Collection 2008 Motown 4:16
Sweet Soul of the '70s: I've Got Love on My Mind 2009
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:14
Icon 2 2010 Motown 3:57
Marvin Gaye 2010 Sonoma Entertainment 5:12
Here, My Dear/I Want You/Let's Get It On/Trouble Man 2010 Universal Distribution / Universal Music Group International 4:15
Let's Get It On 2010 Motown 4:32
The Best of Soul Train 2010
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Sweet Soul of the '70s [Time Life] 2011
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:14
S.O.U.L., Vol. 2 2012 Sony Music 9:41
5 Classic Albums 2012 Motown / Universal Motown 3:59
Ballads 2013 Motown / Universal Music 4:16
Volume Three: 1971-1981 2016 Motown 4:16
Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing Prism Leisure Corporation (UK) / Prism Platinum 9:39
I Heard It Through the Grapevine [Musicbank] Musicbank
Let's Get It On: His Greatest Hits in Concert Not Now Music
No Image Phantom
North American Tour Legacy 9:38
Soul Collection [Music & Melody]
Various Artists
Music & Melody 9:39
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