Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Gaye, Jan (with David Ritz) after the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Gaye, Jan (with David Ritz) after the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye

Article excerpt

Gaye, Jan (with David Ritz) After the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye. New York: Amistad/HarperCollins, pp.282, ISBN: 9780062135513 reviewed by Todd Steven Burroughs *.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In ancient African religious systems, Ibeji (an Orisha, from the Yoruba and the Ifa) is known as the deity of twins, while Ma'at (from Egypt) was the goddess of, among other things, balance. This book, a memoir of a talented, troubled attractive young woman who falls in love with an equally troubled man whose voice and lyric reverberated around the world, tells a story that screams for their intercession. If these gods did act, they acted to end the dualities that circled around them like cocaine and marijuana, when Marvin Gay Sr. killed his son in 1984 with the gun the son had purchased. It almost seemed like an either an evil or heavenly release of all of the tension, anger and depression that had wafted around the singer.

Whether it fashions itself thusly or not, and whether the authors admit it or not, "After The Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye" is a supplement to Ritz's 1985 stellar biography, "Divided Soul: "The Life of Marvin Gaye." The divisions introduced by Ritz 30 years ago are laid bare by Marvin's ex-wife, Janis wherein serenity vs. paranoia, love vs. fear, and ultimately it all sets into conflict as love and clarity becomes warped. Discord, turmoil and competition were necessities for Marvin Gaye, a man who competed with his own domineering father for his mother's love, competed with other Black recording artists for chart dominance and public adoration, competed with other men to win Janis back when he lost her, and even tried to seriously compete with Muhammad Ali in a charity boxing exhibition. He was a man who, according to Janis, believed that "perhaps misery and conflict make for great music. Perhaps without misery and conflict my well would run dry" (104). And, like the first Aquarian, what was the water he was bringing? "To get people to see below the surface of reality" (173).

The entire book is awash in 1970s post-Civil Rights Movement euphoria. Music, television, and performance made gods of men and women, flawed human beings who were openly worshipped and adored. …

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