This morning I was on my commute, I realized that I have finally found a definitive favorite! Whenever anyone ever asks me to hash out definitive favorites be it food, colors, music, books–my answers always include at least 3 options. I’m one of the least decisive people I know. A phrase I can be heard uttering often is “I can’t choose just one.” Welp, that all ends today. This morning at approximately 8:13am, I figured out my two favorite albums in life. Ever. *cue applause* They’re both by this little lady I like to call MY FAVORITE FUCKING POP STAR OF ALL TIME, but you may know her as Janet Jackson.
(pictured above: Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 and The Velvet Rope)
These two albums have helped shape and mold me into the woman I am today. The jury’s still out on whether or not that is a good or bad thing, haha! This epiphany came to me as I was listening to “The Knowledge” [Sidebar: Check out this video of MJ dancing to that song. He’s on record as saying it’s one of his favorite Janet songs ^_^]. RN1814 is an album that shaped my worldview and helped me decide what kind of person I wanted to be in life. This entire album is ripe with songs that not only speak of the injustices in our current society, but also encourage you to get’cho ass up and take a stand.
This is a test
No struggle no progress
Lend your hand to help your brother do his best
Things are getting worse
We have to make ’em better
It’s time to give a damn and work together
– “Rhythm Nation”
The videos from this era in Janet history were iconic as well. All minimalist (by Jackson standards) productions shot in black & white. What’s crazy about this album is that it was released nearly 25 years ago, but is still SO relevant to today’s society.
Janet’s The Velvet Rope continuously helps me in ways that I can’t even speak to fully. Often toted as her most personal album, it is the one with which I relate most as well. Songs like “You“, “Together Again” and “Special” put into the words feelings I’d been dealing with an unable to fully express. Let me not even get into the iconic “I Get Lonely” video. That dance breakdown was copied and performed by nearly every high school pep squad/dance team in the US from 1999-2003. I should know coz we did it in 2000 at my high school–HA!
When it was first released, I didn’t really connect with TVR, but in a smooth 4-6 years after its release? I was playing it like it was freshly released. There’s a song that album for nearly every ridiculous situation I’ve been through in my life (& some not so ridiculous *eyebrow raise*). To this day, whenever I feel some kinda way I take some time out for TVR Therapy. It cures what ails me instantaneously.
I didn’t want to believe it. We were sitting around in a suite in Rochester, MN talking shit when all of a sudden T says “Oh my God Whitney Houston died!” My first reaction was “shut up. If it’s not on TMZ, then I don’t believe it.” JRP googles and finds confirmation telling me “How about cbsnews? Is that credible enough for you?” At this point I’d been drinking so I was dangerously close to being emotional, but I managed to hold myself together for the most part. I am sure that I said several times that if I weren’t surrounded by people I’dve burst into tears. I FB/tweeted similar sentiments after hearing the news as well.
I woke up Sunday morning before the sun rose. Immediately I remembered that I now lived in a world where Whitney Houston no longer drew breath and began crying. Since I was sharing a bed, I didn’t wanna make a sound so I sat there at about 6:18am with hot, fat tears rolling down my face as I tried not to convulse and sob aloud. I wasn’t a Whitney Houston stan, but I loved her. In fact, from 1989-1993 I could be guaranteed to be listening to one of three albums. Janet’s RN1814(post about this album forthcoming), EnVogue’s Born to Sing, and Whitney’s I’m Your Baby Tonight. In my mind’s eye I can still see that album cover, shot in black & white, with Whit perched upon a motorcycle w/ a ‘Nippy’ license plate. I could probably still sing every song on the album word for word. So many hits were on that one, including my favorite Whitney song of all time* “Lover for Life”.
I listen to the Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack weekly. I’m in awe of the talent and raw beauty in her voice. Her version of “I Love the Lord” sends chills down my spine just thinking about it right now. I’ve been sitting here listening to Whitney all morning at work. Reveling in the gift that we were fortunate to receive in the form of her voice. I love what Oprah tweeted about how she felt that Whitney’s voice is an aural manifestation of a part of God. I agree wholeheartedly. Every time I listen to Whitney, I feel blessed.
I’m not speaking on the alleged cause of death nor am I really open to discussing the speculation that’s going on. Why is it that when a person dies, folks are quick to dredge up all of the negativity? It happened with Amy and it’s definitely happening with Whitney. I’m not here for it. When it all comes down to it, Whitney was human. She was someone’s daughter, sister, friend, and most importantly (in my opinion) mother. I can’t sit here and postulate nor pontificate about her life and what she may or may not have been doing. I can just send fervent prayers out for her family to be strong enough to make it through this. I pray that Bobbi Kristina is surrounded with love because she is going to need it now more than ever. Her mother was her world and now she is gone. I’m nearly 30 and can’t imagine losing my mother. I can’t even imagine being 18 and losing the only constant in your life.
Rest in Paradise, Whitney Elizabeth Houston. You enriched my life in so many ways.
*- I say favorite hesitantly because I’m usually not good at choosing definitive favorites. Every time I am asked, however, this song instantly pops to the forefront of my brain. “Run to You” usually comes immediately after though.