Tuesday, May 5, 2015
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

.

Solano News

2 hurt in Fairfield freeway crash

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5, 13 Comments

 
Vacaville prison riot prompts lockdown

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5, 6 Comments

 
Vacaville police announce training at outlet stores

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A5

 
Solano marks Mental Health Month during May

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
Western Railway Museum plans special events

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A2, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Comedies, dramas, documentaries hit screens this weekend

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Caltrans announces work on Highway 160

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Caltrans outlines work on Highway 29

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
 
 
 
.

US / World

 
Ex-Christie allies plead not guilty in bridge case

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Assembly approves ban on Redskins school team name

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
‘Exceptional’ NYPD officer dies from gunshot wound to head

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 2 Comments | Gallery

 
CalFire chief seeks to change discipline after scandal

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

California drought leaves 12 million trees dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 2 Comments

 
Study: Cutting carbon dioxide saves 3,500 US lives a year

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
GOP field grows: Longshots Fiorina, Carson launch their bids

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

Accused Texas gunman well-known to FBI before attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Britain’s new princess can’t expect fairy-tale life

By The Associated Press | From Page:

A name for Britain’s new princess: Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Carson, Fiorina won’t change 2016 election

By Jonathan Bernstein | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: May 5, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Internment art to be displayed at California museum

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Take the mad out of money with these tips for couples

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
North America’s tallest peak opens for climbers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Huge SoCal waves lure surfers, crowds to beaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

.

Entertainment

Obama jokes about a future playing dominoes with Letterman

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Boxing match pops up on phones as TV habits change

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

‘Star Trek’ actress Grace Lee Whitney dies at 85

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
‘Avengers’ sequel soars to $191.3M

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
The Muppets to team up with several YouTube stars

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
New McCullough book celebrates the Wright Brothers

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Blues legend B.B. King resting at home in Las Vegas

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
TVGrid May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6, 1 Comment

 
.

Sports

Local Report: Baseball, tennis, swimming, football

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
Cruz hits 14th HR, Hernandez pitches Mariners past Angels

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Bumgarner pitches Giants past Padres for fourth straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Griffin’s triple-double lifts Clippers over Rockets 117-101

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Hunter backs Hughes with 3-run HR as Twins top A’s 8-7

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Pacquiao could face disciplinary action for shoulder

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Brewers win in Counsell’s debut, 4-3 over Dodgers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Rose, Gasol pace Bulls to 99-92 win over Cavs in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Canada, US, earn 3rd straight wins at ice hockey worlds

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Murray wins BMW Open for 1st clay-court title

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

FIFA to study Israel-Palestinians dispute on election day

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Earnhardt back in victory lane and happier than ever

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Rory McIlroy: Holding the top ranking, wearing the crown

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Warriors’ Stephen Curry voted NBA’s MVP over Harden, James

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

 
.

Business

 
China factory index shows fastest deterioration in a year

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Airlines bring in more money from bag, reservations fees

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
General Motors will invest $174 million in Kansas plant

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Greece to lobby EU, ECB for swift loan payout

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
AP source: Goldberg died after collapsing in gym

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

Supreme Court will hear appeal over energy regulation

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Dow Chemical to trim about 3 pct of global workforce

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
US stocks gain, pushing market back to record levels

By The Associated Press | From Page:

US factory orders rise in March for first time in 8 months

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Buffett again defends lending standards at Clayton Homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
McDonald’s challenge: Make it simpler, but add choices

By The Associated Press | From Page:

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Crossword May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
B.C. May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Peanuts May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie May 5

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4