|Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope (1997)|
The Velvet Rope is the sixth studio album, by one of pop musics all time greats; Janet (Ms Jackson, if you're nasty!).
The album was recorded at a time when Janet was battling through depression and is an introspective look at the woman life as she lifts her 'velvet rope' for us, inviting us in to her mind and emotions. The Velvet Rope concept symbolises the VIP barrier between the so called 'special' people of the world...and the rest of us. Metaphorically speaking, the velvet rope is a barrier between ourselves and our emotions. Janet is suggesting your name is definitely on the proverbial list, as she allows you into her world that shares her secrets on sex, social issues, spirituality, love and follows her own path to self discovery. I will focus on the exposure to the artists emotions, the philosophical and spiritual themes. Come Inside!
'Living the truth, will set you free'. The Velvet Rope
The title track opens the album with twisted musical beats, thought provoking dialogue and the unmistakable genius of Vanessa Mae's contemporary violin backing. The song explores our need to belong, and how the need within us to feel special, can bring the worst out in us and also the best in us. Janet's number one theme throughout suggests that we are all special, regardless of social status and ability. I guess she is saying that we are 'told' that the 'special' people are the celebrities/VIP's, and when it comes to this exclusive world of velvet ropes, you and i certainly don't count. The truth is of course; we do count, durr!
Truth, confidence and love are all things to be found within us and remembering that you are a special can fall- by- the- waist side if we continue to put an emphasis on the material world and the connection that has to our emotional understanding of us feeling important, excepted and loved.
'Putting others down, to fill us up'. Does this make us feel special...?
'Outside leave judgment, outside leave hate. One loves the answer, you'll find in you'. How about now....? Much better.
'Check in the mirror my friend, no lies will told then'. You
The second track follows beautifully, by continuing the theme of looking inside oneself and battling those possessing demons; you know the ones that make your head spin around and make you tell your mother all kinds of nasty things. Ok, so those type of demons, but the biggest demon of them all - YOU! We cant ever escape ourselves and we definitely cant escape the truth - it always prevails, whispering in your ear like a nagging mother. So, the cure is to make friends with the demon, the voice, with you.
Satya meaning truth in the ancient poetic language of Sanskrit, is also one of the Yamas (moral codes) outlined in the yoga sutras by the great sage Patanjali. These sutras state that 'When one is firmly established in speaking truth, the fruits of action become subservient to him'. This teaches us to live a truthful existence, see the bigger picture and our rewards for doing so will be revealed. I once described my own practice of yoga to someone, was like a mirror attached to your face that you cant shake off. I was obviously referring that there is no escape from the truth and one day you have to deal with it. I can happily say i do not describe my practice like that anymore, although that metaphorical magical mirror does come in handy. Truth leads us to freedom...well that's the plan anyway.
From this point on, the album explores many different ideas about love, death, emotions and sexuality. FreeZone explores our attitudes towards homosexuality, Rope Burn touches on sadomasochism and the beautiful Together Again rejoices in the concept of life after death, drawn from Janet's own experience of loved ones dying of AIDS. This album, simply put, is Janet Jackson's masterpiece.
'You have to learn to water your spiritual garden, the you will be free'. Special
The album ends where it began in terms of its overall message. But instead of an dark and eerie music notion, light and happiness seem to be the concluding factors. Special is a corny song i have to say, (it has a choir and everything), but it does re-illiterate the fact that its so important that we must deal with our pasts problems to enable us to progress. Jackson stresses that you are important no matter what others or yourself may think, and that spiritual connection is a way in which one can learn and to feel that affirmation. Weather you practice yoga, meditation, go to church or visit temples, a spiritual life helps in answering those unanswered questions. Its not about religious attachments or living a life that doesn't relate to you. Its about living your truth. Essentially, as human beings our river of truths all runs to the same ocean. We all feel hurt, pain, love and happiness but is only us that can unlock the closed doors that open up to a life of freedom. Dive in, be brave and enjoy being free.