‘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.

Favorite Sounds of the Season

Yes, my avid music blog subscribers, it’s that time once again; time to trim the tree and hang the stockings with care while listening to Yule time tidings of comfort and joy. This holiday season, three particular releases have not only caught my attention, but have found a permanent place amongst my ever-growing Christmas music collection:

1) Josh Rouse: The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse – Longtime favorite singer-songwriter Josh Rouse has gifted us with a full-length Christmas record that will delight the senses and warm the cockles of your holiday hearts. Rouse’s Holiday Sounds is a short, but essential set of nine new seasonal selections that are tailor made for group Christmas gatherings as well as cuddling with your significant other.

The laidback opener “Mediterranean X-Mas” is guaranteed to take away the stress of your hustling and bustling while reminding you to slow down and enjoy the reason for the season. Likewise, the luscious “New York Holiday” embraces echoes of Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack (coincidentally referenced in the closing track), while concurrently sounding fresh, familiar, and classic. Other key tracks include the forlorn, but upbeat “Heartbreak Holiday,” the picturesque “Sleigh Brother Bill” and the gorgeously referential album closer, “Christmas Songs.”

The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse’s first pressing includes three acoustic bonus tracks: “Up on the Housetop,” “Let It Snow” and a cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” all of which add the perfect touch for a holiday bonfire singalong.

And speaking of Mariah Carey…

2) Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas Deluxe Anniversary Edition – After already owning the original release, plus the red vinyl LP, I’ll admit I initially deliberated if I needed yet another version, but I ultimately took the plunge and I’m glad I did! Loaded with remixes, bonus tracks, live performances from Mariah’s 1994 John the Divine concert, plus a few newly recorded treats, this 2CD expanded edition of Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas has never sounded more joyful.

And finally,

3) Jim Reeves: Twelve Songs of Christmas – This country classic was produced by the legendary Chet Atkins, and has finally been beautifully remastered by Vic Anesini at Sony’s Battery Studios. Reeves’ Twelve Songs of Christmas is a sentimental journey back to the days of Nashville’s iconic countrypolitan sound. Also, two seasonal bonus tracks: “Snowflake” and “Scarlet Ribbons” have been added to make this the quintessential version of Jim Reeves’ beloved Christmas album.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.