Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Damn, I feel like I've mentioned Mariah too much recently... once a month is enough. However, I couldn't pass up to write about the release of 1997's Butterfly, which came out eleven years ago today -- September 16th, 1997. This album marks a turning point of classic Mariah and eternally a pre-teen but dressing like a scallywag Mariah.

    I vividly remember when Butterfly was released, it had been two years since her last album (1995's Daydream) and everyone was anticipating this "new" Mariah. She was officially emancipated from Tommy Mottola, stripping down to a bikini in the “Honey” video and supposedly going a more urban, soulful route. While I always felt Mariah had soul, she was definitely more adult contemporary in the early to mid nineties.

    Now, of course this was the days before downloading music or "accidental" leaks. An album came out and you had to wait till you bought the album to hear even one additional song outside of the first single. If you were a young'n like me you had to wait till Friday when you got paid... hell, back then you even had to stand in line at the bank to cash your check during lunch! Direct deposit was only for the elite—but I digress.

    I wasn't exactly hooked on the song “Honey,” I was already bored with the Mase and Puffy blatino duo. But, one of my friends praised the Butterfly CD and he was a fan of Sade, Chante Moore, and The Brand New Heavies—he definitely had good taste.

    He played "Breakdown" for me over the phone, before the days of emailing an mp3 and raved about the other songs. Within in a week of the album's release I picked up Butterfly and fell in love with every track except for "The Roof" and "Fourth of July" (don't ask me why, just didn't move me). This was clearly Mariah's best work.

    However, the public didn't agree. Butterfly was praised by lovers of R&B, but alienated her pop fan base. The album sold five million, but her last two, Daydream and Musicbox, sold over ten million domestically. Still, this felt like Mariah’s most sincere and genuine work. Unfortunately, Butterfly would begin a downward spiral of short skirts, being eternally twelve, and focusing more on beats than her dynamic voice. Regardless, Butterfly is one of the greatest albums of the nineties.

    The Butterfly album as a whole is branded in my memory. Shortly after the CD was released my aunt suddenly died. I would listen to “Close My Eyes” on repeat, just thinking of my aunt who was more like a second mother. “Guardian angel I, Sail away on an ocean with you by my side / Orange clouds roll by / They burn into your image and you're still alive (You're always alive).”

    Here is an incredible live performance of the song—in just jeans and a T-shirt.

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    Posted by Clay :: 1:00 AM :: 10 comments

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