Originally written by 1950s one-hit-wonder Ed Townsend, the song originally addressed the author's desire to get on with life after beating alcoholism. Marvin Gaye completely changed the lyrics (and meaning) to the song after meeting Janis Hunter, the woman who would become his second wife.

"Let's Get It On" was the title track of Gaye's 1973 album. It topped the Billboard Pop Singles chart for two weeks and the Billboard Soul Singles chart for eight weeks. It also made history as Motown's most successful release in the United States to that date and the second most successful song of 1973.