The Velvet Rope Therapy

You may be asking yourself, “what the hell is the velvet rope therapy?”  Well, good thing you asked. The Velvet Rope is an album- a masterpiece is a more suitable description- that Janet Jackson released in 1997.

I have a strong sense of relation to Janet. No, I don’t feel like we’re kindred souls or that we were friends in a past life – I just feel her life. Her music is extremely personal to her and what is going on in her life when she is making her albums – so as a listener, you can easily decipher from one album to the next, how she was feeling and what she was going through.

Janet released The Velvet Rope in 1997 after a great deal of turmoil in her personal life; dealing with depression and supressed feelings she had through-out her life up until that point, all contributed to this album. It’s very much about finding oneself: escapism, accepting what is, experimenting, sexuality, the need we all have as humans to feel needed, to feel special, to feel like we mean something to someone. The album is cohesive and deeply introspective for her and for the listener.

I remember first listening to it, at 8 or 9 years old, being in complete awe and thinking, “Wow..” Now of course, at that age I didn’t quite understand all the content but I had a sense of what was going on. Growing up, I myself was a quiet child and internalized a great deal and the constant talk of this “need to feel special” on the album really pulled me in, I related. I started listening to the album on a daily basis – a couple songs here and there, or one song a day; depending on my mood and what I needed, the tracks varied.

When I got into high school though, I found myself listening to the entire album on repeat, for days. It was a healing for me – as looney as that sounds – relaxing and clearing my head to this album put me into a better space after a couple of days.

Now, it’s almost a tradition or a “quirk” about myself that is just stuck in me. I go through a period of time where I just have to listen to this album, and that’s it. It really does help. The connection is so strong with this work and it still to this day amazes me how much the music and the words, the message… gets through. The delivery on this album is so strong and so direct — you cannot not feel it. This album could have been released today, and still have the same level of resonance within people as it did on the day it dropped in October ’97.

There’s a level of vulnerability on this album that is breathtaking to me. To be so set in your ways and to open yourself up and expose what you’re going through and take your listeners with you as you fix yourself…? That’s courage. And it’s inspiring. To know, that even she is in this journey with the rest of us. Not only did the music touch me, but Janet did as well. If someone didn’t have respect for her after Control or Rhythm Nation or the janet. album… they definitely were able to see one of the best sides of Janet through this album. I say that with the utmost sincerity in that, no, I don’t feel like it takes pain or troubled times to make a masterpiece, but it does take a TRUE artist to manifest something that could have easily ruined her, and turn it into self conducted therapy not only for herself but for the people with open ears; whoever will listen. This album is an open invitation to anyone who needs to know that the complexities of life effect everyone.

I find so much strength when the album is over and it’s just overwhelmingly uplifting.

So, two weeks ago..I found myself feeling inadequate; different issues resurfaced, questions arose, I felt alone, and I just popped in the CD and the first night I laid in bed and just thought about every lyric. I fell asleep before the album finished, but I did the same thing the next night and the night after. It kind of put me in a better mood to wake up the next day with… and by the time I was ready to lay in bed the next day – I needed the album again. After some time… it clicks all over again.

And no I’m not crazy – it never really is the same thing that pops up and has me running for the CD – it could be anything that is challenging me in life. I find that inner strength through this album – it’s true. It’s my shrink, so to speak. Instead of the $300 a week for a couch and a notepad… I spent $10 for a CD that I’ve listened to for the past 17 years.

Thank you, Janet.

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