Sunday, March 1, 2009
Having read my fair share of biographical material on the man I consider to be God, it is safe to say that I know a little bit about the life of Marvin Gaye (Michael Eric Dyson's Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Loves and Demons of Marvin Gaye is pretty good, except for the R. Kelly comparison clap trap at the end). But for some reason, I had only read excerpts of David Ritz's heralded biography, Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye, which is the consummate bio on the man. It never was in stock at Border's or B&N and I always had it sitting in my Amazon cart just waiting to be purchased, but never got around to it, putting it off for the next splurge. Last week I decided these excuses were bullshit and after reading a book that contains a character that totally rips off Gaye's life story, I was angered into craving the real deal.
I cannot put this book down.
Apart from the fact that Gaye's life makes for a fantastic page turner (religion, sex, jealousy, infidelity, sexual fetishes, Motown, drugs, child abuse, heartbreak, depression, paranoia, Greek tragedy like family dysfunction, murder, Berry Gordy, etc.) this book is basically told by Marvin. Ritz and Gaye had planned on collaborating on a book together (and fun fact, Ritz is credited with co-writing "Sexual Healing," although, as you will learn in the book, that was not done without some legal issues that took a toll on the author and the musician's friendship), but unfortunately, Gaye passed before the project was started, one day shy of his 45th birthday. This was not the book Ritz intended to write. But lucky for us, he did. Based on years of intimate interviews with Marvin, his family, peers and friends, this book is the closest thing to an autobiography we could get. I already knew the general plot (as many do) but the anecdotes are what make this come to life and truly dance on the page (there is GREAT Motown dirt). I don't even want to write too much. This isn't a book review, just a plea for you to pick this up and immerse yourself in the world of Marvin. Heartbreaking, joyous, beautiful, ugly, complicated and organically simple all at once, Marvin Pentz Gaye, Jr.'s life is my favorite story of all time. It's overwhelming.