Marvin Gaye, Dream of A Lifetime
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Second Listen Sunday: Marvin Gaye, Dream of A Lifetime

Last week we marked the 39th anniversary of the untimely passing of ICON Marvin Gaye. I was approaching age three when Gaye passed, so I don’t remember the worldwide grief music fans felt. However, Gaye’s legacy continues to live on, and for this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I chose to revisit Gaye’s eighteenth and first posthumously released studio album, Dream of a Lifetime.

In 1982, after final negotiations to leave Motown Records were completed, Marvin Gaye signed a three-album deal with Columbia Records. The first album from that deal was 1982’s triple platinum Midnight Love. American guitarist, producer, writer, and musical director Gordon Banks worked with Gaye on Midnight Love and decided to release some of the tracks he and Gaye worked on together between 1982 and 1983.

“Sanctified Lady” was the album’s first single and is a dance floor ditty. The song tackles the idea of finding someone who is pure and incorruptible, not corrupted by society. The singer expresses their desire to find a person like that through the lyrics.

Gaye’s sexual fantasies in “Savage in the Sack” go beyond playing on old-age myths and having a good time despite the ready laughs that often accompany her portrayal of a savage. Although it may get Gaye canceled in 2023, it is clear Gate was having a lot of fun during the recording of “Masochistic Beauty” in an eye-catching across-the-pond accent accompanied by the vocoder: “If you do it right, you’ll get the pipe.” Although those lyrics may get Gaye canceled in 2023, it is clear Gaye was having fun while recording the song.

I was waiting for a ballad on the album, and one finally arrived with the fourth song, “It’s Madness.” The beautiful ballad comes from the pen of Gaye and features the production talents of Harvey Fuqua. The song hails from old Motown archives from the 1970s.

Gaye croons about the mental and emotional turmoil the singer is going through after a painful breakup. The lyrics describe feeling lost, unsure of oneself, and struggling to make sense of the world around him. The metaphor of flirting with insanity and uncertainty hints at the singer’s fragile mental state and inability to cope with losing his lover. The song’s chorus, “Oh, babe, where is my mind? Since you left me it’s been hard to find”, highlights the singer’s struggle to move on and find meaning in life without his lover. 

 

The rain that starts to fall in the chorus may symbolize the sadness and despair that follows the breakup and the loss of hope for a brighter future. In the second verse, the singer reveals his desperation to cling to whatever memories and reminders of his lover he has left, but even that is not enough to bring him peace of mind. He pleads for his lover to return; only she can save him from mental anguish. Overall, “It’s Madness” is a poignant and honest portrayal of the devastating effects of heartbreak on a person’s mental health and the desperate need for human connection and love to heal the wounds of the soul.

The rest of the album tracks are from the Motown days. “Ain’t It Funny (How Things Turn Around)” has an undeniable funk groove. “Symphony” is co-penned with Smokey Robinson and recalls his sixties work. Next is Life Opera, a collaboration with Motown writer Ivy Hunter. Marvin gets religious, but it works. Gaye closes out the project with the album’s title track. Here “Gaye explores the theme of finding contentment despite past failures and challenges.

 

Overall this is a solid posthumous release from a legend.

 

Final Grade: B

Dream of a Lifetime is available on all streaming platforms.

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