Despite divorce, Jackson avoids despair on new album
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Janet Jackson had every reason to wallow in angst and self-pity on her latest release, ``All For You.''
As she prepared to make her eighth album, Jackson was divorcing her second husband, Rene Elizondo Jr. He subsequently sued Jackson for $10 million he claims she owes him for his contributions to her music and videos. That case, still in the courts, required Jackson to jet from recording sessions in Minneapolis to depositions in Los Angeles.
But ``All For You'' is anything but dour. Led by the title song, which sprinted to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 upon its release, the album is filled with spirited dance tracks, steamy sexual imagery and such life-affirming declarations as: ``Now I see/the single life's for me.''
There's also the occasional lyrical put-down of those she feel betrayed her, including Elizondo, whose eight-year marriage to Jackson remained a secret until they announced their split in February 1999.
``It was very fun making this album,'' the 34-year-old pop diva and youngest of the musical Jackson siblings said during a recent interview at a hotel suite here, a short hop from her birthplace of Gary, Ind.
She moved to California with the rest of the family when the Jackson 5 took off in the early 1970s, and she first made her mark acting -- including roles on the TV series ``Good Times'' and ``Fame.'' That was before her third release, 1986's ''Control,'' became the first in a series of mega-selling albums that together have sold nearly 37 million copies.
During her recent travails, Jackson said, friends and family helped her realize ``that we have choices.''
``I chose to take a positive path as opposed to the negative one, and slowly but surely, one day to the next, it got better and better,'' she said.
``There were times when I would want to go back to that (negative) space, and I'd say, 'You know what? Nope. I don't have time for this. I've got a lot of work to do, and I refuse to get into this space.' It was so much easier and so much better.''
Dressed in a pink tank top, jeans and boots, her long hair pinned in a bun atop her head and sporting a South African tribal tattoo on her right wrist, Jackson said she's avoiding romantic commitment these days.
``I don't know if I'll get married again,'' she said. ``I'm not really looking, but they talk about the love bug biting you ... and watch, I'll get bit, because they say it's when you don't look that it happens.
``But, honestly, I feel like I'm starting to live life the way it was intended for me to live. I'm having a great time, and I've got so much work to do.''
``All For You'' brings work and play together. After touching a bit on carnal desires on 1993's ``janet'' and going even further on 1997's ``The Velvet Rope,'' much of ``All For You'' is a treatise on sex and the single girl.
On the title track, for instance, she admires a man's ``nice package'' and vows she's ``gonna have to ride it tonight.''
Other songs, such as ``When We Oooo,'' ``Love Scene (Ooh Baby)'' and ``Would You Mind'' are even more pruriently direct.
It's all a far cry from ``Let's Wait Awhile,'' Jackson's 1986 plea for abstinence. But, Jackson insists, her ``baby-making'' songs are meant to be more than merely suggestive.
``It's not just about sex,'' she said. ``It's more than just a physical thing for me; it's a spiritual connection as well. And I think it comes off that way.
``I've had so many people come up to me and say their children were conceived from one of (her) songs, so there has to be some sort of passion there that gets inspired. And I'm glad, because that's what it is for me, and for them to feel that way as well makes me feel good.''
The songs on ``All For You'' still raised the eyebrows of those closest to her, including long-time co-producers James ''Jimmy Jam'' Harris III and Terry Lewis. When she recited the detailed lovemaking lyrics to ``Would You Mind,'' Harris even asked, ``God, can we get away with this?''
Jackson's reply: ``I said, 'What do you mean, get away with this? We have to. This is something that I really want to share.' He said, 'It's really, really serious, but I love it because what you're saying is nasty, but when you sing it, it ... comes across as if it's true lovemaking, that there's passion there.' I'm glad it comes off that way; I think that's how I've been able to 'get away' with it.''
Nor is she worried that the sexual content will overshadow ''All For You's'' other songs, including a duet with Carly Simon on ``Son of a Gun (I Betcha Think This Song is About You),'' which samples her 1972 hit ``You're So Vain.''
``Somehow it seems like (listeners) have always gotten around and really listened to all that has gone in and all the hard work and the creativity that's gone into making the album,'' says Jackson, who kicks off a world tour July 5 in Vancouver. ``All of the albums that I've done, for the most part, have said, 'Look, you're not the only one to go through this. I got through this as well. ``They always for sure get around to that. I don't think it's ever truly been ignored.''