Monday, November 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Gaye demolished barriers for Motown, music

decicco column sig

By
From page B1 | March 28, 2014 |

When we lose artists at a young age, we feel cheated.

We grieve both for the person as well as, in some selfish way, for ourselves. Without a personal connection to the person, we grieve the loss of future work.

In the case of Marvin Gaye, the legendary Motown singer, it was the shocking sadness of his April 1, 1984, end. On the heels of his most commercially successful record, he was shot dead in his parents’ home – and the pistol was in his minister father’s hand.

Next week marks two noteworthy landmarks for Gaye: Tuesday is 30 years since his death, but were he still alive, Gaye would’ve celebrated his 75th birthday Wednesday.

For the uninitiated, the inimitable singer spent the ’60s dishing out more hits than a mixed martial arts fighter, a fruitful era featuring such classics as “How Sweet it Is (To Be Loved by You),” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and his iconic stab at “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”

By the ’70s, the “Prince of Motown” leveled up. Yearning to better express himself, Gaye started penning his own albums, crafting “What’s Going On,” “Let’s Get it On” and “I Want You,” complete works that were as pivotal in proving the album format could be as vital to soul and R&B as The Beatles did for rock ’n’ roll.

Gaye’s split with Motown in the late ’70s was a period of creative floundering. He worked through a fog of drugs, depression and other issues toward health while crafting “Sexual Healing,” one of his most successful singles, but the supporting tour steered Gaye back to his demons.

Scholar and radio personality Michael Eric Dyson wrote in his book “Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Loves and Demons of Marvin Gaye,” a quiet storm of religion, race and sexuality was as much Gaye’s undoing as his making.

For example, Gaye bought the pistol his father, the Rev. Marvin Gaye Sr., used to shoot and kill his son. Friends and family reported Gaye was depressed and addicted to cocaine prior to his death. Dyson suggests the scenario was sort of a suicide by cop, with Gaye physically assaulting his father until it provoked the desired response.

Frankie Gaye, Marvin’s brother who was there at his death, wrote in an autobiography that the singer told him he “got what (he) wanted,” supporting Dyson’s notion that Gaye coaxed his father to such violence.

While Gaye’s death casts a long shadow, his body of work endures to a younger generation as well.

Gaye set a precedence some modern musicians may take for granted. “What’s Going On” was part of a rebirth for the Motown label in the early 1970s, allowing its artists such as Gaye and Stevie Wonder more creative freedom, with less of an insistence on meeting the Motown sound, typified by distinct low-end tracks and a melding of gospel influences with a pop sensibility.

It also relinquished on songwriting teams, allowing Gaye to craft a concept album that stood as his response to the Vietnam War, the pain and truth of which his veteran brother Frankie Gaye was able to tell him about.

What Gaye did with “What’s Going On” was help bring an African-American voice to the collective conscious about social and political issues in the ’70s, but artistically, he also carved out a wider space for R&B, soul and the Motown sound to be more. A reliance on singles as the primary mode of release was waning and “What’s Going On” – despite its unforgettable title track – made the case of album-based soul.

It gave the freedom for Wonder, too, to craft such songs as “Higher Ground” and “Living for the City,” songs under the Motown flag that carried a level of socio-political savvy as well as having a great groove.

Opening the palette carries through to today. It isn’t crazy to draw a line from Gaye to contemporaries such as John Legend or Miguel, who hold themselves to a bar that marries contemporary issues to their R&B crooning.

While few conversations about Gaye exist without talking about his sudden, sad death, at least there is more to the conversation about him and his legacy than that.

To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock. Follow him on Twitter @ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Cadets raise cash to help wounded Air Force veteran

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Solano cities gather for Thanksgiving meal

    By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

     
    Food Addicts group sets Thanksgiving Day meet

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Local government board schedules meeting

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Turkey Trot returns Thanksgiving Day

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

    Holiday tree-lighting events begin

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

     
    Holiday boutiques in full swing

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    .

    US / World

    Anxieties mount as Ferguson waits on grand jury

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    3 months after Napa quake, recovery rolling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    US looking past Ebola to prepare for next outbreak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    San Jose police arrest man after airport chase

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Surfer missing off beach south of San Francisco

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Thief suspect falls through ceiling, leaves phone

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    1 killed, dozens injured in California bus crash

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Boy with fake gun dies after shot by Ohio officer

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Israeli Cabinet moves to define Israel as Jewish

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Former DC Mayor Marion Barry dies at 78

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Islamic State group recruits, exploits children

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Giffords rides in Tucson cycling event

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Suicide bomber kills at least 45 Afghans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Some 30 horses die in stable fire outside Chicago

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Crew blasts off for International Space Station

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    US tells Iran to consider nuclear talks extension

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Damage worse than thought in Japanese earthquake

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Joey Chestnut devours turkey to win eating contest

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Strong quake in west China kills 5; 54 hurt

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Health care M&A leads global deal surge

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    .

    Opinion

     
    Does D stand for deliberate, deception, denial?

    By Colleen Britton | From Page: A8

    OMG, am I eating a GMO?

    By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Nov. 24, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Nov. 24, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Horoscopes: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

    My sister-in-law expects me to pay her for damages, but she won’t pay me

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

     
    Horoscopes: Nov. 24, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

    .

    Entertainment

    ‘Mockingjay, Part 1′ opens with $123 million

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    TVGrid Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    List of winners of the American Music Awards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    1D, Katy Perry win big at American Music Awards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    TVGrid Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Sports

     
    Speights scores 28 as Warriors hold off Thunder

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Hyde scores go-ahead TD, lifts 49ers past Redskins

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Federer leads Swiss past France for Davis Cup

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Hamilton answers Rosberg in style to clinch title

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Stacy Lewis sweeps 3 biggest LPGA awards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    UCLA honors Robinson, retires No. 42 for all teams

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Katy Perry to perform at Super Bowl halftime show

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    NFL roundup: Seahawks roll past Cardinals

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Athletics acquire 1B Ike Davis from Pirates

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Revs win 2-1 at Red Bulls in East final 1st leg

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Sarvas puts Galaxy past Seattle 1-0 in West opener

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    First lady attends Princeton women’s hoops game

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    This date in sports history for Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Leslie “Esi” Gros

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Jack I. Johnson

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

    Dorothy Pouge Arnold

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Arthur Irving Weiner

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

    .

    Comics

    Get Fuzzy Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Baldo Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Garfield Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Frank and Ernest Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Wizard of Id Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Baby Blues Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Pickles Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    For Better or Worse Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Dilbert Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Blondie Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Rose is Rose Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Zits Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Peanuts Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Beetle Bailey Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Sally Forth Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    B.C. Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Sudoku Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Cryptoquote Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Word Sleuth Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Crossword Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Bridge Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    B.C. Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Garfield Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Baby Blues Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Dilbert Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Rose is Rose Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Frank and Ernest Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Peanuts Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Beetle Bailey Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Pickles Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Wizard of Id Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Sally Forth Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Baldo Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Get Fuzzy Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Zits Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    For Better or Worse Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Blondie Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Cryptoquote Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Word Sleuth Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Crossword Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Bridge Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Sudoku Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7