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I Want You (Marvin Gaye song): Wikis


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"I Want You"
Single by Marvin Gaye
from the album I Want You
B-side I Want You (Instrumental)
Released April 1, 1976
Format Vinyl single
Recorded Marvin's Room, Los Angeles, California, 1975
Genre Soul, funk, rock, downtempo disco
Length 4:34 (single release)
Label Tamla
Writer(s) Leon Ware
Arthur "T-Boy" Ross
Producer Leon Ware
Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye singles chronology
"Distant Lover" (live)
"I Want You"
"After The Dance
Audio sample
file info · help

"I Want You" is a song written by songwriters Leon Ware and Arthur "T-Boy" Ross and recorded and released as a single by singer Marvin Gaye. Released as a single in 1976 on the Tamla label, the song introduced a change in musical styles for Gaye, who before then had been recording songs with a funk edge. Songs such as this gave him a disco audience thanks to Ware, who produced the song alongside Gaye.

The song also stood to be one of Marvin's most popular singles during his later Motown period followed by his sabbatical following the release of 1973's Let's Get It On. The song eventually reached number fifteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Hot Selling Soul Singles chart.[1] It also became a disco hit, reaching number ten on the Disco Singles Chart alongside "After the Dance".




Originally conceived by Motown songwriter Leon Ware and his songwriting partner "T-Boy" Ross, it was originally intended to be included in Ware's Musical Massage album. When Ware, who was also signed to the label as a solo artist, presented the rough draft of his album to Motown-CEO Berry Gordy, the mogul was appreciative of the songs, including a rough version of "I Want You". But after hearing it, he convinced Ware to give some of the songs to Marvin Gaye, who was coming off the release of his acclaimed 1973 record, Let's Get It On, his final duet recording with Diana Ross and a commercially successful live album and was coming off a US tour at the time. Marvin, who called himself a perfectionist, had struggled with creating a follow-up album to Let's Get It On. When Ware played Gaye the rough draft of "I Want You", Marvin, then inspired by his relationship with his nineteen-year-old girlfriend Janis Hunter,[2] was motivated to record a convincing performance of the song, which was about a man trying to convince a wayward lover that he wanted the woman to love him as much as he did.

Purportedly recorded at Marvin's Room, the singer's new recording studio in Los Angeles, Marvin also reportedly recorded the song while lying on his back of his sofa according to Ware, who said that he couldn't see Gaye at first but then discovered a laid-back Marvin delivering the song in his trademark tenor vocals.

Song style

Apart from the vocal multi-layering produced by Marvin, the song also featured a disco styling with strings and a laid-back drum pattern, while a laid-back bass guitar punctuates the groove equipped with a wah-wah funk guitar sound. Rock-based guitar licks, by Ray Parker, Jr., give the song a rock edge. Overall the song is a soulful disco ballad with a funk-rock edge and doo-wop styled vocals from Gaye.


Released on April 1, 1976, the single was released a month after its similarly-titled parent album was released, the single gained success on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Soul Singles chart, eventually peaking at number-fifteen on the Hot 100 and number-one on the R&B chart. The single's light-disco/soul approach helped the song gained a club audience after it was combined with the album's second single, "After the Dance" and peaked at number-ten on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play chart, Marvin's first single on that chart. Eventually the song would help its self-titled album sell over a million copies. Marvin would also be nominated with a Grammy Award for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance, losing out the second time to Lou Rawls, whom he had a competitive rivalry with, for his single, "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine".

Cover versions

Madonna version

"I Want You"
Song by Madonna

from the album Something to Remember and Inner City Blues: The Music of Marvin Gaye

Released October 2, 1995
Format Radio, video promo
Recorded 1995
Genre Trip hop, ballad
Length 6:23 (Album)
6:11 (Radio)
6:04 (Orchestral)
Label Warner Bros., Maverick, Motown
Writer Leon Ware
Arthur Ross
Producer Nellee Hooper
Problems listening to this file? See media help.

"I Want You" was covered by Madonna and Massive Attack from Marvin Gaye tribute album Inner City Blues: The Music of Marvin Gaye. The song was also featured on Madonna's 1995 ballads compilation album, Something to Remember. It was released as a promotional single in 1995.[3]

About the single

After the release of her successful single "Take a Bow", Madonna was approached by Earle Sebastian about a cover of this song for a tribute album. She originally turned down the offer because of her vocal training for Evita but later decided to release a compilation album to hold fans over while she was working on Evita. When Warner Bros. asked for three new tracks, Madonna accepted the proposal of Massive Attack.

Originally, "I Want You" was slated to become the first single from the compilation album, Something to Remember. The song was released as a promotional single in September 1995 and a music video was shot and released to many media outlets. Many problems arose internally, which resulted in "You'll See" being quickly released as a single instead. The video received heavy airplay on both MTV and VH1. Along with medium radio airplay, many fans speculated as to why the song was never released as an official single. Neither Massive Attack nor Madonna have commented on this matter.

The song appears on the album in two versions: the original album version and an orchestral version. Dance remixes by Junior Vasquez and Warren Rigg have also surfaced and are available on the internet, as well as various mixes of the orchestral and original versions.

Music video

Madonna in the "I Want You" music video.

"I Want You" was shot on August 5 and 6, 1995 at Empire Stages in Long Island City, New York and directed by Earle Sebastian. Directed by Earle Sebastian and produced by Joel Hinman, The video was inspired by and pays hommage to A Telephone Call, a short story written by American writer, Dorothy Parker. The video was promoted to VH1 and MTV. MTV Europe did and still does air the video, especially in the late-night show "Chill Out Zone". Julian Hirsh did several mixes of the track, while rare promos featuring nearly a dozen slightly altered versions of the original song exist. The video was also the only case in Madonna's history where a non-released single was given the full video treatment. The video was finally commercially released in 2009 on Celebration: The Video Collection.

  • Director of Photography: Thomas Kloss
  • Editor: Bruce Ashley
  • Production Company: Good Karma Inc.

Other versions

  • Diana Ross, whose brother T-Boy co-wrote the song, covered "I Want You" for her 2007 album I Love You.
  • Robert Palmer released a medley of "I Want You" and another Marvin Gaye song, "Mercy Mercy Me" in January, 1991. This single reached #9 in the UK charts.


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 225. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Madonna I Want You US Promo Box Set (323786)". Esprit International Limited. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 


  • BBC Review Op Cit. 4 August 2003
Preceded by
"Kiss and Say Goodbye" by The Manhattans
Billboard's Hot Soul Singles number one single
(Marvin Gaye version)

May 29, 1976
Succeeded by
"Young Hearts Run Free" by Candi Staton

Simple English

"I Want You" is a song by Marvin Gaye. It was released in 1976. It was covered in 1995 by trip-hop band Massive Attack and Madonna.

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