Missing In The Meaning of Mariah
I just finished reading The Meaning of Mariah Carey. It was a good book overall. Reading about her troubled childhood was sad, but interesting. It was surprising that she didn’t really explore the fact she had been abused. She doesn’t seem to connect the dots or understand her family dynamic as well as she could. She calls her family dysfunctional, but doesn’t stop to try and figure out why they are that way.
Mariah Carey’s rise to fame was fairly well documented. Learning details about her split from Tommy Motolla gave depth to the limited amount information provided by various magazines and interviews.
However, I felt there was so much more that could have been included. I wanted to know the origin of her songs and what inspired her. Also, I wanted to know more about her other relationships. She mentioned dating a couple of guys in High School, but didn’t even give them names. I always wondered if Ben Margulies was one of them. I imagined that they they were a couple since they spent so much time together. Then she dropped him as a co-writer. In my mind, Love Takes Time was written about their break-up. In the book she seems bitter about them parting ways, which backs up this theory. And in the film Glitter, she seems to combine both Ben and Tommy into one character.
Mariah doesn’t discuss but one or two of her songs on her second album. Emotions was my favorite album, but she is dismissive of it. She talks about “Make It Happen” mostly. She doesn’t talk about the Motown and Soul influence on her music, but I suppose it is a sore topic since that was Tommy’s doing. Some of the songs had to be inspired by him, but never specified which ones. I had always imagined that “Emotions” and So Blessed” was inspired her love affair with him. “Til The End of Time” I think is more about the emptiness and longing in her childhood and teenage years.
Music Box could easily be deemed her marriage album. Most of the songs are happy songs about being in love. Because of that, Mariah doesn’t seem to keen on having a conversations about those songs either.
One of my favorite songs of hers was a B side to “Dreamlover.” It was called “Do You Think of Me.” This song is about a woman longing for someone who is not hers. When she met Tommy, he was still married. Early on, they tried to keep the date of their hookup secret since he didn’t want to look bad in the press. But since their public relationship and marriage, many have speculated that he cheated on his wife to be with Mariah.
Other B side songs “Fade Away” and “Slipping Away” appear to be about her failing marriage to Tommy. I assume they were never included in the actual album because he felt it would put the spotlight on him. Mariah managed to put the songs out there, but these works could have been huge hits instead of footnotes in her career.
Her relationship with Derek Jeeter was discussed in her book, but we never get a sense of how intimate they were or why the relationship was so short lived. She did confess “The Roof” was written about him. And the songs “Honey” and “My All” also had to do with him. “Butterfly” was about her divorce from Tommy, which she more or less stated when it came out.
Honestly, I was disappointed in the Rainbow and Glitter, so I didn’t pay much attention to them. Her songs on those albums failed to speak to me. And she failed to speak about the inspiration for those songs as well. I liked a few songs off of Charmbracelet, but Emancipation and E=MC2 failed to move me as well. She had mentioned that “Flowers For Alfred Roy” was about her father, but not a lot beyond that for the later albums.
Mariah covered her disappointment in how Glitter was received and she covered her breakdown. However, I was surprised she didn’t bother to mention her diagnosis as Bipolar. She talks about suffering from PTSD, but seems to be embarrassed to admit some of her behavior is due to her struggle with mania and depression.
She does write about Luis Miguel and Nick Cannon, but doesn’t say much about them either. There is no explanation for her connection to them or postmortem of their relationships. I am guessing some of the songs she wrote were inspired by them. “We Belong Together” was a song she said she played in the delivery room. It is not a stretch to think this was her song about Nick and their babies
The end does feel rather rushed. Mariah doesn’t include anything about her residency in Las Vegas or her lip syncing controversies. There is nothing about her former assistant suing her. And there isn’t a single word on her feud with Eminem, her relationship with billionaire Bill Packer or her relationship with Bryan Tanaka.
These missing topics shows Mariah’s fans that she doesn’t like to deal with unpleasant topics. It appears to be difficult for her to admit when she makes mistakes. I suppose it isn’t easy for anyone, but a it would make her a little more sympathetic if she did. As for her relationships, I have to wonder whether she signed some nondisclosure forms or was just asked to respect their privacy. If that was the case, I wish she just would have said so. Not addressing the elephant in the room makes it feel like she is trying to hide things.
The book feels like a tell-all at the beginning, but then about half way through it feels like she is telling people, “None of your damn business.” Lol. It is confusing! I am glad The Meaning of Mariah, but Mariah’s music is much more revealing than her book. She can be incredibly vulnerable in her songs, but she never seems to trust that vulnerability to be her greatest strength. Her most personal songs are never her greatest hits. And this book could have been better if she had risked more in her confessions.