The best-selling Motown artist of all time, Marvin Gaye defined the hopes and shattered dreams of an entire generation. Twenty years after his tragic death-he was shot by his father-his relevance persists because of the indelible mark his outsized talent left on American culture. A transcendent performer whose career spanned the history of rhythm and blues, from doo-wop to the sultriest of soul music, Gaye's artistic scope and emotional range set the soundtrack for America's tumultuous coming of age in the 1970s. Michael Eric Dyson's searching narrative illuminates Marvin Gaye's stellar ascendance-from a black church in Washington, D.C., to the artistic peak of What's Going On?-and charts his sobering personal decline. Dyson draws from interviews with those closest to Gaye to paint an intimate portrait of the tensions and themes that shaped contemporary urban America: racism, drug abuse, economic adversity, and the long legacy of hardship. Gaye's stormy relationships with women, including duet partner Tammi Terrell and wives Anna Gordy and Janis Hunter, are examined in light of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Dyson also considers family violence in the larger context of the African-American life and how that heartbreaking legacy resulted in Gaye's murder. Mercy, Mercy, Me is an unforgettable portrait of a beloved black genius whose art is reflected in the dynamism of contemporary urban America.
Michael Eric Dyson
Dyson, Michael Eric
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"In his guttural cries, his hectic moans, his elliptical ejaculations, and his plaintive whispers, Marvin explores the healing and redemptive dimensions of black romantic love." - From page 132 of "Mercy, Mercy Me" Man, does Dyson have a way with words! I guess that I am one of those "public intellectuals" that finds Dyson's analyses of both Gaye's life and the social ills plaguing the black community so intriguing. Dyson, a minister himself, contrasts Gaye's life as a popular secular singer with his strict Pentacostal upbringing at the hands of his stern minister-father. The struggle that the singer endured played an important part in his music and the book dissects four of the artist's most challenging and enigmatic works: the classic and legendary "What's Going On", "Let's Get It On", "I Want You" and the controversial "Here, My Dear". The author cuts down each album, layer by layer, revealing Gaye as a man in constant turmoil with the battle between his...
Dyson has written a fascinating analysis of the life and career of the late Marvin Gaye, a book that will appeal even to readers who don't know Gaye's music all that well. That having been said, this is a weighty tome, which touches on the religious, cultural and social influences of the black community and how they shaped the singer.
For example, in examining the effect of childhood abuse on Gaye, Dyson traces the problem of domestic violence in the black family to slavery. While this is an interesting discussion, it sways quite a bit from the book's star. Some readers will find these diversions tedious.
Because Gaye's relationship with Motown founder Berry Gordy is discussed at length, anyone who has studied the studio and its music will find something of interest here. References to the black church and family will ensure this book's place in programs of African-American study. Finally, the last chapter is in large part about present-day soul star R. Kelly...
Upon fist glance, one would think this was another of many biographies on the legend that is, Marvin Gaye. This is not a biography however, but an analytical look at the life of Mr. Gaye; what made him do what he did, sing what he sang, and feel the way he felt. In an essence, Mr. Dyson disects events in Marvin's life to show what it was that made Marvin tick; what made him fall in love with the women that he fell in love with, and what made him rebel. This book has surprises- one in particular that we all wondered about for some time. There is also an interesting parallel made between Marvin and another modern day singer, R. Kelly, that will surprise some readers. There are references to other Marvin Gaye biographies (Divided Soul by David Ritz; My Brother, Marvin Gaye by Frankie Gaye; and Trouble Man by Steve Turner, just to name a few), which are good for the readers who haven't read many books on Marvin, or want to know more about him outside of his music. Michael...
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