July 14, 2011 Mariah
Mariah Carey must have her turn. I followed up the two Madonna biographies with the only Mariah Carey biography that I could find. It was just a bit out of date since it was from 2001, but it was still interesting. Of course, I found it lacking. After imagining a whole fantasy world with her, what could possibly ever dive deep enough though?
For some reason I really connected with Mariah on a spiritual level. When I wrote my Mariah Trilogy, I guess I was writing about myself more than anything. I used the lyrics and the images from her videos to create my own story. Truly it feels like a collaborative effort and a joining of her vision with my own.
How did it come to be? In 1990 Mariah Carey appeared on the pop scene. Her success story and vocal gymnastics impressed me right away. I got her tape soon after it came out and listened to it over and over.
The video for “Vision of Love” had her on a rather bare set. She was in this huge tree swing and then she wandered around a room with a suit of armor and a large curving staircase. Though a minimal set to say the least, I quickly place her in some sort of medieval fantasy.
I’d already written a story set in my mythical country of Rushmal Shaylin. Destiny Foretold was a foray into that particular fantasy world. It was a thinly disguised adventure with Mark-Paul, Me and a Princely narrator. The story explored the familiar theme of free will versus destiny. It was easy to add Mariah into the mix.
The idea behind Rushmal Shaylin was that it was a colony of advanced people in the South Pacific—perhaps refugees from Lemuria who lived as if in the Middle Ages during the time of the Roman Empire. Well, the fall of the Roman Empire at least. They were in many ways fish out of water. Mariah herself was an outsider and I could relate. It was a natural step to make her an independent lady who preferred life away from the court.
“I Don’t Want To Cry” took place in a country cabin. The imagery from the video—which nearly wasn’t—sparked my imagination. To think the first video that was scrapped was her wandering around a studio instead of an old house! My story might never have been if Mariah hadn’t demanded a re-shoot!
“Love Takes Time” became my MP anthem and my connection to him. I felt like a part of me was missing and that love would eventually lead me to feel whole again. I love the ocean and the video being shot on the beach made it resonate much more. I always imagined walking down a beach with Mark-Paul and telling him the story of us—of my dream and my feelings for him.
“There’s Got To Be A Way” played into my growing political awareness. It felt like 1990 was a year of social activity and concern for the “global village.” I added her song to my Peace Compilation along with “Our House” by Traci Spencer, “Tell Me Why” by Expose and “Love and Understanding” by Cher.
“Someday” didn’t fit into my world, but it was Paul’s theme song. He told me he’d sing the lyrics and think of his ex-wife right after their divorce.
I was so exited when the album Emotions came out the fall of 1991. I listened to the tape over and over until I wore it out and had to get another one. Her 2nd album was more R&B and more herself, but still parameters of what the record company thought would be successful. The song “Emotions” was pleasant enough, but it was the unreleased songs that spoke to me the most. While “Can’t Let Go” reminded me of Aaron Bueno, it was “And You Don’t Remember” that expressed exactly how I felt at the time. The melancholy in “Till The End of Time” just made my heart ache. And “So Blessed” basically became my gateway to experiencing spiritual love. The song had such a profound sense of sacredness about it. “The Wind” was so sat that I imagined a great sense of loss for Mariah—much more than just for a friend. It could only be the sort of loss that one experiences for the loss of a child I decided.
So, in the first story Mariah lets go of an old boyfriend, loses a brother and meets the man she will eventually marry. In the 2ns story, she goes on her honeymoon to the home land of her love Terry. The Germanic Tribes and how they became the current countries and cultures of Europe have always fascinated me. I made Terry from that world and Mariah sails with him to be at his home. Inevitably, they are separated when she is kidnapped. She is pregnant with his child and very much alone in the world. Mariah, my character, escapes captivity and gives birth. Terry searches everywhere for her and finally finds her. They sail back to Mariah’s home, when the baby falls ill and dies.
In looking back, I am not sure where I got all that from. Perhaps it was an intense sense of loss and sorrow that manifested into the particular emotional journey for me. Maybe that sense of sorrow is what connects me to Mariah ultimately. That utter vulnerability, strength and appreciate of beauty is something we share.
In 1993, Paul was all excited because he’d just purchased Mariah Carey’s new album Music Box. I took the wind out of his sails a bit by telling him I already had the tape. The summer of 1993 was marked by her song “Dreamlover.” However, it was the b-side to that single that captured my emotions. “Do You Think Of Me” was surely written about her forbidden feelings for Tommy while he was still married. It perfectly echoed my forbidden love for Ben though. That essence of longing once again resonated with me.
“Hero” was uplifting and the line “It’s a long road” became my anthem. I had suffered a great deal and wondered if I’d ever find happiness. I was dong my best to stay positive, but it wasn’t easy to keep a hold of my dreams.
“Without You” broke my heart and inspired part 3 of the Mariah Trilogy. Much of Music Box was dedicated to memories and day dreams from the past. It wasn’t a large leap to make my character become depressed, restless and distant. That was the subtext to her album after all. “All I’ve Ever Wanted” was such a huge romantic song. To have Mariah lose her love and sing that to him when they were reunited fit so perfectly into my story.
“Anytime You Need A Friend” merely stands out as a style change. Mariah straightened her naturally curly hair and got bangs. I cut my hair to look like hers. My hair had been all one length and I was tired of it—even though it took forever to grow out in the first place.
Her Christmas album provided another link to MP. “Fall On Your Knees” recaptured the sacredness of “So Blessed.” I listened to that song over and over—trying to reach that inner sense of divinity.
“Fantasy” became all about Jamie Adkins. It was his fantasy to sleep with sexy Mariah Carey. I kept telling him that she was married and untouchably famous, but he didn’t care. I was secretly flattered thinking that perhaps that Jamie was drawn to something Mariah and I shared—that it wasn’t just her looks that he lusted after.
Daydream spoke to me about my new relationship with Jason in late 1995 and early 1996. The unreleased songs “I Am Free” and “When I Saw You” in particular touched me deeply. “Forever” was fun and sweet. “One Sweet Day” was a great song, but not favorite.
In 1997 Mariah Carey spread her wings and put out her album Butterfly. My cousin Alecia who has always been more into rap than me thought it was her best album yet. “Honey” was fun. “Butterfly” and “My All” were quite moving. And for some reason, “Whenever You Call” always made me think of SJ. Now, “Breakdown” and “Butterfly” remind me of what is going on with Jason!
I’d stopped my fantasy story series with her 4th album. Her lyrics were no longer timeless and I could no longer relate to them in the way I once did. However, I did incorporate her divorce into my short general fiction piece, Spread Your Wings. Typing up that novella is what led me to read Madonna and Mariah Carey’s biographies and it is what led to these musings on their effect on my life.
Anyway, I was eager to get the Rainbow CD when it came out, but I was quickly disappointed. It was mostly top 40 and rap songs that no longer felt like my kind of music. I missed the presence of Walter Afanasieff in her writing process. She’d ended her writing partnership with him in an effort to completely break away from Tommy and Sony. The subtext of Rainbow was that she was stressed out and unsure of her new relationship with Derek Jeter. The depth of emotion from her earlier work was gone.
Glitter felt even shallower than Rainbow and flopped for the most part. The movie had potential, but didn’t quite pull it together in the end. It felt like it was missing the soul of her earlier work.
Mariah had thrown herself into her work in order to deal with the pain of her divorce and her work suffered for it. She pushed herself to be productive even when she lacked any real inspiration or artistic vision.
Charmbracelet was a bit better in 2002 and 2003. I remember one of my students at GTCC had purchased the CD and absolutely loved it. I listened to it from the library and never bought it myself. “Through The Rain” and “Flowers For Alfred Roy” weren’t bad. Her cover of “Bringing On The Heartbreak” was perhaps my favorite.
Then she lost me again when she put out her twin CDs Mimi and E=Mc. Mariah seemed to me too lost in the glitz and glamour of being a pop star. The singles were starting to sound all the same and the lyrics lacked any real heart. Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel failed to move me at all. It felt like a knock off of a lot of other artists out there.
Mariah recently got remarried to a younger man named Nick Cannon and they had twins together this May. I have hopes that her new album will be better and that it will be a return to her roots and herself musically. I miss her!