‘The Meaning of Mariah Carey’

© 2020 Andy Cohen Books

When you hear the name Mariah Carey, what comes to mind? Does her name conjure images of inescapable Top 40 pop hits of the 1990s, or massive big ballads heard on adult contemporary playlists? Or maybe hearing her name makes you think of R&B-flavored hip hop bangers. Whatever image or memory stirs from hearing the mention of her name, do they make you think you know Mariah Carey? Turns out we really knew next to nothing about the legendary icon who has been seared into our pop culture consciousness for more than three decades, as revealed in her newly published memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey.

My journey with Mariah Carey’s music began in 1990, while working in a record store. One day, while making a display featuring new and yet-unknown artists, I came across hew just released debut album, which at that time, “Vision of Love” had just begun to get some moderate radio airplay. While looking at the display, I recognized one of the song titles which caused me to play Mariah Carey over the store’s sound system. I was immediately enraptured with the sounds coming from the speakers and couldn’t fully comprehend the brilliance contained with the debut album’s 11 tracks. Not only was I amazed, but from that moment on, I’ve been a devout and loyal participant on team Mariah; buying all of her records, viewing her videos and attending her concerts, for the better part of my life.

Now, 30 years into my fandom, I’ve been shaken to my core upon reading Mariah’s unfiltered telling of her mishaps and struggles. The book’s pages are filled with heartbreaking memories of her enduring a violent and damaging childhood, a cruel and manipulative family and surviving a turbulent marriage to a controlling and demeaning power-hungry oppressor.

Here, for the first time, Mariah Carey is setting the record straight and telling her truths about her music and personal life in her own soul-bearing words. She not only reveals where many of her songs come from, but also sheds a bright light on what really happened during the era known as ‘the Glitter debacle.’ Even at that time, I knew better than to believe she’d had a mental breakdown, but also felt as if that period was a giant red flag that something major was happening behind the scenes. I’m also still reeling from finding out the true inspiration and meaning of “Vision of Love.” For decades I always thought it was just a mere love song.

The Meaning of Mariah Carey is not only a captivating and intimate look inside the private world of one of music’s most successful and enduring artists, but it’s also a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. I must confess I read it in its entirety in just two days. I literally could not put it down. Even if you’re not a Mariah Carey fan, you will find this book fascinating. But, if you are a fan, you’ll absolutely love it.