20 Aug Dear Celine
You’ve been on my mind and in my ears a lot lately. I mean, if I’m being honest, you’ve been on my mind and in my heart since I was 12 years old. My parents got one of those Columbia House Records subscriptions when I was in middle school. It was that time in my life when I was figuring out what I liked separate from my parent’s tastes. Until then a lot of the music that filled our house was theirs. But it was in middle school that I got my first disc man, and soon after that my first CDs.
My sister and I were allowed to pick two CDs each to order with our first Columbia House Records purchase. That was part of that promotion where you got 12 CDs for a penny. My picks were Red Hot Dance (a compilation album featuring Madonna) and your album, The Color of Love. I’m genuinely surprised my parents agreed to those two picks because it was a time in my life when they were pretty careful about what my sister and I consumed as far as pop culture. But they would have had to pry The Colour of Love from my cold dead hands.
For some reason, the other day, as I was working on emails and other tasks, I thought of “The Power of Love.” I could hear that synth in the back of my head and your voice. I had to put it on. When it came on I was back in my bedroom at my parents house. I could feel the black foam of my headphones itchy on my ears as you sang. I was 12 years old, on the verge of my teen years, but full of all the longing and angst of a 16 year old. I had crushes and unrequited loves. I had bedroom walls covered in the pictures of teen heart throbs I’d cut out of magazines. The Color of Love came maybe only months before I bought Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill.
Until The Colour of Love came in the mail, there were a lot of men in my ears (and I’m sure you’d agree that hasn’t changed all that much). On the radio in the car I’d hear Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Neil Young. When visiting family in Kelliher, Saskatchewan the summer before Grade 4, in my aunt and uncle’s basement my cousin played me a new band he’d just found. He put Dookie by Green Day on the CD player. In the car as we drove from Kelliher to Fishing Lake, we sang Beck. The Spice Girls would make their entrance in our house when I was in middle school, but my sister was the Spice Girls fan. I was deep into the Backstreet Boys then. So, like I said, a lot of men.
You and I weren’t peers, but it meant something to me to hear a woman talk about love the way you did in the lyrics of your songs. I also don’t think I realized how much you had done (and would do) in your career. I remember when you married Renee and how the story around you shifted. That you married him to help your career, that he was the reason for your success. I believed some of that, because that’s what we’re meant to believe about women and men. But it wasn’t that way. I know that now.
As I was listening to “Think Twice,” which comes later on The Color of Love, I wondered why I gave up on my love for you. Because I did love you. I remember belting out the lyrics to “My Heart Will Go On.” I remember when you sang it on stage at the Oscars and could feel your fist hit your chest in that totally iconic moment. (I’m listening to it now with all the goosebumps I had the first time I heard it.) I think I stopped listening to you because being cool and accepted was more important than immersing myself to the things I liked.
I wanted to write to you to thank you for what your music meant to me, and lots of girls and women. And the fact that you always seemed to stay true to you and to love, despite the shitty things people said about you (which was just misogyny). We don’t treat successful women well. We don’t stand up for women who enter worlds dominated by men as girls and sometimes have to learn who they are in the spotlight and while being policed by mass media and patriarchy. I wish I’d been brave enough as a teenager to just like what I liked, but I’m thankful, thanks to the Internet, that I can lose myself in your voice the same way I did when I first listened The Color of Love.