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Marvin Gaye's “Trouble Man” elicits dual amazement: its presentation, predominantly performed in his falsetto, and the moment of a primal scream. The opening lyrics engender confusion as one discerns what exactly Marvin sings; this perplexity situates how his queer childhood sets a precedent for the recording. This piques further interest because Gaye becomes his “mother,” with the manifold definitions such as office holds, and “father,” even as his “father”—a pastor and disciplinarian— becomes his “mother” through drag. Unpacking whether Gaye's life demonstrates the body-flesh dichotomy à la Hortense J. Spillers, the chapter further enacts a “close listening,” given that he acknowledges listening to George Gershwin while writing the record (and its eponymous film soundtrack). Pondering which Gershwin composition acted as his muse, the chapter speculates through sonic registers to hear “Trouble Man” as a reimagining of black female vocality and the operatic.

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