’90s Song of the Week: Janet Jackson’s “Where Are You Now”

Where are you now? Now that I’m ready to love you the way you loved me then. -Janet Jackson

Just the tip of the iceberg as far as the best deluxe album cover image goes.

Just the tip of the iceberg as far as the best deluxe album cover image goes.

1993’s janet. was the first studio album since Jackson’s 1989 Rhythm Nation 1814. janet. featured one of the most iconic album covers of the decade and arrived  just in time to the the magical sweet spot of puberty. And though I famously traded my copy away to Brett for the seminal metal album Countdown to Extinction by Megadeth (The rare win-win trade, but the bigger issue still lingers: who the hell were we? Seriously?), it will always have a special place in my heart. Critics pointed out the albums marked turn toward sensuality and sexuality, and it’s impossible to argue against this point. A whopping nine singles were released, the most famous of which featured videos that made no attempt to cloak these themes. “That’s the Way Love Goes” (metaphorical moth sex), “If” (hypothetical sex with kick-ass choreography), “Again” (cut-off jeans shorts with waist chain sex), and “Anytime, Anyplace” (SEX) all furthered the ideology strongly suggested by the album’s cover. So many years later, I wonder if the album title sex. simply fell to the cutting room floor.

“Where Are You Now” is the rare song on the album that isn’t overtly about sex, rather longing, regret, and uncertainty. Since those are my middle names, it should come as no surprise that it is my favorite song off the album, even if A) it wasn’t released as a single, and therefore B) there isn’t a steamy video in which Janet somehow manages to make it about missed opportunity sex. It is a love song of the unrequited variety, with Janet looking back on a specific time and person who loved her in a way she did not understand and did not reciprocate. The realization has come to late for her and all she can do is wonder about and hope for a second chance that will likely never come.

Look good, feel good, hit under .200.

Look good, feel good, hit under .200.

“How did we do it?” I asked Matty as we walked back to the parking lot from the softball fields on Monday night. “I don’t think we cared,” he said. “All we wanted to do was play.” He was right of course, and we were talking about my first love, the game of baseball. “I don’t think I could ever love anything as much as I loved baseball when I was in high school,” I said. This, of course, excludes humans. The reason I asked this question is because playing softball on Monday nights has become more of a chore than a joy. I don’t know how we got here, but here we are.

It's come full circle: I started on the bench and now I am back there.

It’s come full circle: I started on the bench and now I am back there.

I loved baseball with an illogical passion. I wasn’t good at it, but for throughout my adolescence there was nothing else I really wanted to do. Other than my obvious lack of natural talent, I wouldn’t truly begin to understand the game until I graduated from high school. From about the age of 20, I viewed my baseball career through the lens of what I would do differently. It seems impossible given how long and how often I played, but in truth, the timing wasn’t right. You know what they say about experience being a hard master/teacher. Now that I am a wealth of baseball knowledge, I am no longer physically capable of applying the knowledge efficiently.

I usually like to come up with the ’90s song of the week without the assistance of the internet or my iTunes playlist. Last night as I lay in bed trying to settle my mind, I considered Sheryl Crow’s “My Favorite Mistake” for this entry. For a reason I can’t explain, “Where Are You Now” hijacked my thought process. Then it was over.

Because I got home from work at almost 9 PM, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep until 11 or so. My mind went down the rabbit hole of thinking about how many other things in my life where the result of poor timing and crap, I don’t have the time, space, or energy to list them all. Suffice it to say that there seems to be people who are capable of handling a moment thrust upon them and there are those who are not. I fall into the second group.


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