Sometimes the Universe sends you the music you need right at the moment you need it. Such was the case for me twenty-one years ago when Janet Jackson released The Velvet Rope. It’s not as if Janet’s music hadn’t resonated with me in the past, as I was a die-hard fan from the first time I heard “What Have You Done for Me Lately” on the radio. But 1997 was a pretty challenging year for me, and Rope was an anchor for me emotionally when I felt like I was isolated and alone.
At the turn of 1997, I was dealing with the breakup of my first long-term relationship (six months…ha!) while living in North Carolina away from my family and friends, and I wasn’t handling it well. Even though I started to pull things together by the middle of 1997, “adrift” is probably the best word I can use to describe where my head was. The only thing that really kept life moving forward for me was my job managing a record store in High Point. I constantly found myself excited by new releases, including the unfortunately posthumous Notorious BIG album Life After Death.
When The Velvet Rope came out, I was struck by how sonically different it was from the previous janet. record, and how it was so bold and out there when talking about sexuality. I listened to the record over and over, and was struck specifically by the vibe of “Freexone.” Those who knew me in the late 90s online knew me as Freexoner. If loving who you want to love is the Freexone, then I declared myself to be a Freexoner. The name still lives on in a few places if you look hard enough for them. 😉
Besides the personal impact of “Freexone,” Janet’s choice of covering Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)” also struck a chord. Growing up, Rod’s A Night on the Town got a lot of play in our house, and it doesn’t hurt that “Tonight’s” was the number one song of 1977 in the US, making it hard to avoid. Janet’s delivery was very coy and more seductive than Rod’s, and I’m sure some of the mystique behind who the song was about helped keep interest in the album going.
I bring all of this up now because I’ve undertaken a project to re-acquire some of the music that has meant the most to me over the years in the formats I originally owned them. I’ve got The Velvet Rope on CD, but there are a few albums that I’d also like to have on vinyl to display and stand out from the collection. Turns out that there aren’t that many copies of the album floating around out there, easily pushing the price of a good copy up into the hundreds of dollars. Today in the remaining minutes of an auction on eBay, the price jumped from $85 to $189 in a matter of 30 seconds. All I can say is that I helped that seller make a nice profit today by pushing my final bid to $185. I’m not sure I would do that again, but my desire to have the album may force me to do so. Only time and my bank account will tell.
I’m not sure if this is a resurrection of the blog, or just a one-off, but I’ve had this post in the back of my mind for a while, and today’s auction just cemented my need to finish what had been a draft from last year. However, as the music starts rolling in, I may be inspired to share more of it. Stranger things have happened. All I know is that I have huge regrets with some of the music I sold years ago in times of limited finances. Can you say The Black Album on original vinyl? That’s not one of the items I will be re-acquiring, but the shelf is starting to fill in.