Monday, April 02, 2007

Thoughts on Marvin Gaye...

Thoughts on Marvin Gaye explored through Inner City Blues and a dash o' Trouble Man.

This bitch is thinking of Marvin Gaye today, April 2nd…his birthday.

I grew up listening to Marvin Gaye in our house…to the joy, the soul and the sorrow of his music.

My father, who was the same age as Marvin Gaye, and I used to ride to the barber shop every Saturday. We hit the doughnut shop first…and then the hardware store…but always ended the day at the barber shop. It was full of black men of various ages…and a few kids like me. The same two ancients played chess every Saturday in the back, bottles of Dr Pepper set to the side and cigarettes dangling from trash talking lips.

A bitch used to sit and watch the ritual of it all. The snap of the smock…the buzz of the clippers…the delicate touch of finger to neck followed by the graceful lean of head to one side or the other. And floating like a pulse over it all was the sound of the radio.

Always the radio playing some soul song.

My father was in the chair…snap went the smock only to fluttered over him and then be secured at the neck…then the buzz of the clippers as my father’s afro was shaped and defined.

Marvin Gaye came on the radio...I must have been around 6 years old…and the noise of the room paused as if to acknowledge the truth of song. Just the buzz of the clippers and Marvin telling it like it was…like you wish it weren’t but knew it was.

Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life

Make me wanna holler
And throw up both my hands


I looked into my father’s eyes and saw emotion so raw it stole my breath.

Just for a moment there was no air.

This ain’t living.

Frustration…anger…pain…sorrow captured in my father’s eyes.

Throw up both my hands.

Then it was gone with the haunting final notes of the song.

The way they do my life.

I thought of that moment a few years later when the news came through that Marvin Gaye was dead. He was shot and killed by his father in a domestic dispute.

Send that boy off to die.

I thought of the look in my father’s eyes as he listening to Marvin Gaye while getting his hair cut…while allowing his mind to touch, however briefly, on what was…what he wish weren’t but knew was.

And I mourned in my 8 year old heart.

Panic is spreading

For what was that I wished wasn’t but knew…just knew was.

God knows where we're heading

For the end of life.

Oh, make me wanna holler

I mourned the memory of that look in my father’s eyes.

This ain’t living

And the cycle of it all.

Like the brother said…only three things for sure - taxes, death and trouble.

Marvin Gaye would have been 68 years old.

12 comments:

Mini Genius said...

Each time I listen to that song, I stand in awe. Unfortunately, the truly talented ones are always taken. Listening to Gaye's music makes me fear turning on the radio for who knows what non-meaningful, non-Gaye type of soul music will be playing. Your post took me back! :)

Ancrene Wiseass said...

ABB, this is so powerfully beautiful that I'm sitting here at work with tears in my eyes.

You have a gift. Well, actually, you have many gifts, and they shine through in your passionate, clear-eyed, muscular writing.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

Clio Bluestocking said...

That was beautifully heartbreaking.

I'm hearing the strains of "What's Goin' On" right now in my head.

68. Damn shame.

Marienkäfer said...

Hello ABB,

I'm sure you've already heard, but Shaquanda Cotton was released.

http://freeshaquandacotton.blogspot.com/

Thank you for posting her story last week, and for all of your time and effort on your blog.

Be well,

Naledi Saul

Sue Woo said...

Lovely post. I miss him too.

I saw Jesse L. Martin on a talk show the other day and allowed that he might play Marvin in an upcoming project. Perfect, I say.

BigAssBelle said...

that was a beautiful tribute to your father and a window into your life that i am touched and saddened to read.

It's Me, Maven... said...

Poignant... simply beautiful. You've got a way with words...and emotions.

Maya's Granny said...

So beautifully written, so deeply felt. It did two things for me -- it took me to the music, and it took me to the barber shop with my father. Both journeys brought tears.

Shark-fu said...

Oh my, y'all!

Thank you and I'm glad this post touched you.

evilganome said...

Thank you. That was amazing. I miss Marvin too.

Ginger said...

Ahhh, Inner City Blues...one of my all-time faves. It's used to great effect in the movie Zodiac/

plez... said...

DAMN, girl... i used to HATE sitting in the barbershop until i read your post about Marvin Gaye ... i can't wait to get my fade faded on friday! *smile*