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"You're All I Need to Get By" is a song recorded by the American R&B/soul duo Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and released on Motown Records' Tamla label in 1968. It was the basis for the 1995 single "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By" from Method Man and Mary J. Blige.

"You're All I Need to Get By"
You're All I Need to Get By label.jpg
Single by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
from the album You're All I Need
B-side"Two Can Have a Party"
ReleasedJuly 9, 1968
Format7" single
Recorded1967, Hitsville USA, Detroit, Michigan
T 54169
Songwriter(s)Nickolas Ashford
Valerie Simpson
Producer(s)Ashford & Simpson
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell singles chronology
"Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing"
"You're All I Need to Get By"
"Keep On Lovin' Me Honey"



Written by real-life couple Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, it became one of the few Motown recordings of the 1960s that was not recorded with the familiar "Motown sound". Instead, "You're All I Need to Get By" had a more soulful and gospel-oriented theme surrounding it, that was influenced by the writers, who also sing background vocals on the recording, sharing vocals in a church choir in New York City. Marvin and Tammi recorded the song at Hitsville. Ashford & Simpson later stated how the session was hard as Terrell was recovering from surgery on the malignant brain tumor that would ultimately cause her death less than three years after they recorded the song.

During moments in the recording, Gaye can be heard encouraging Terrell to sing her verses, ad-libbing come on Tammi several times. A year later, Gaye was performing this song with Stax vocalist Carla Thomas at the Apollo Theater, when Terrell, who was seated in the front row in her wheelchair, began singing along, prompting Gaye to leave the stage and sing the song with Terrell, who was offered a microphone. It would be Terrell's final performance before her death in March 1970. The song was played during Terrell's funeral while Gaye gave a brief, tearful eulogy.

The original recording by Gaye and Terrell peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and number-one on Billboard's Hot R&B/Soul Singles chart for five weeks,[1] becoming one of the longest-running number one R&B hits of 1968 and the most successful duet recording of Marvin Gaye's entire career. Given its global appeal, it also reached #19 on the British singles charts in late 1968, staying there for nineteen weeks.


Chart historyEdit

"You're All I Need to Get By"
Single by Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams
from the album That's What Friends Are For
B-side"You're a Special Part of My Life"
ReleasedJuly 1978
Format7" single
Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams singles chronology
"Too Much, Too Little, Too Late"
"You're All I Need to Get By"
"Love Won't Let Me Wait"

Johnny Mathis and Deneice Williams coverEdit

Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams recorded "You're All I Need to Get By" for their 1978 duet album That's What Friends Are For. It was the follow-up to their U.S. number-one hit, "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late".

Their version of "You're All I Need to Get By" peaked at #47 on the Billboard Hot 100, #10 on the Hot Soul Singles Chart, #16 on the Adult Contemporary chart,[6] and #45 on the UK Singles Chart. It did best on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart, where it reached #5.[7]

Chart historyEdit

Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (1978) Peak
Canada RPM Top Singles[8] 52
Canada RPM Adult Contemporary[9] 5
UK (The Official Charts Company) 45
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 47
US Billboard R&B 10
US Billboard Adult Contemporary 16
US Cash Box Top 100 67

Other cover versionsEdit

  • Diana Ross recorded it for her 1970 album, Diana Ross. Ashford and Simpson produced Ross' version as well.
  • The Angels released a version in 1974 as the B-side of the single "Papa's Side of the Bed".
  • Tony Orlando & Dawn's version became the third to reach the U.S. Top 40, peaking at #34 in 1975. They also reached #13 on the Adult Contemporary chart.[11]
  • In 2007, The James Taylor Quartet recorded instrumental version for the album Don't Mess with Mr. T: James Taylor Quartet Plays Motown.
  • Kidda uses a line of this song for his 2008 single "Under the Sun".
  • D.C. rapper Wale samples this in the song "The Remake of a Remake (All I Need)" off of his critically acclaimed 2008 Mixtape About Nothing, with singer Tawiah singing the female vocals.
  • Gladys Knight "Empress of Soul" also performed, "You're All I Need to Get By".
  • The song has been covered on the BET commercial in 2012 with the new slogan We Got You was shown from the retrospective moments.
  • Irene Grandi and Stefano Bollani sang a piano and vocal cover during the fourth Episode of the musical show L'importante è avere un piano on the Italian TV channel Rai 1, on 12 December 2016.

Other allusions to the songEdit

This song and its 1995 interpolation of it by Method Man and Mary J. Blige on their single, "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By", were referenced in "All I Need" by Jay-Z when he says: "And all...I...need is a chick to hold a jammy like/Meth and Mary, like, Marvin and Tammi"

Late rapper The Notorious B.I.G. sampled a portion of it for his song "My Downfall" on his 1997 Life After Death album.

On the first season of American Idol, winner Kelly Clarkson sang this song during Motown week and Jasmine Trias also sang it on the third season. On the sixth-season finale, American Idol Winner Jordin Sparks sang it as a duet with second-season winner Ruben Studdard. Seventh season American Idol runner-up David Archuleta performed this song on Star Search final. Eighth season contestant Von Smith performed it in the third week of semifinals. In addition, Jacob Lusk sang this song also during Motown week of Idol's tenth season.


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 225.
  2. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1968-09-30. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  3. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, September 28, 1968
  4. ^
  5. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 28, 1968
  6. ^ Billboard Adult Contemporary, August 19, 1978
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1978-10-07. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  8. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1978-09-09. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  9. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1978-10-07. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  10. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  11. ^ "Adult Contemporary Music Chart". Billboard. 1975-10-18. Retrieved 2016-10-02.

External linksEdit