Mariah Carey’s 1997 album “Butterfly” holds a number of hits, including the smash singles “Honey” and “My All.”
But it’s also the album on which Carey tucked an introspective and revealing song called “Close My Eyes.”
The powerhouse vocalist was honored by Broadcast Music, Inc. on September 7 for her songwriting, and she told CNN that the compositions she holds closest typically aren’t the songs that became chart-toppers.
Instead, her favorites are often lesser-known cuts from more obscure records.
She cites “Underneath The Stars” from the 1995 album “Daydream” as well as “Looking In” and “I Am Free” from the same album as some of her favorites.
Of big No. 1 hits such as “Touch My Body” “We Belong Together” and “Hero,” Carey said: “I still love those songs,” but added, “I love the obscure songs because they’re very close to my heart. Especially a song called, ‘Close My Eyes’ — that’s like my life story.”
The down-tempo, piano-backed track paints a picture of a woman with a past — “I was a wayward child, with the weight of the world that I held deep inside,” Carey sings. “Life was a winding road, and I learned many things little ones shouldn’t know.”
But, like her new single “Triumphant (Get ‘Em),” the chorus speaks of courage in the face of adversity: “But I closed my eyes, steadied my feet on the ground, raised my head to the sky. And though times rolled by, still I feel like a child as I look at the moon. … Maybe I grew up a little too soon.”
While Carey didn’t go into detail about the experiences that inspired that song, she did describe what led to the creation of “Triumphant.”
Carey said her husband, Nick Cannon, was going through some health problems around the same time her friend Whitney Houston died.
“There was just so much going on,” she said.
“It was such an awful time. … I don’t even know how to express what was happening, but I had to express it through music in terms of going the opposite way, almost to encourage myself.”
And by encouraging herself, she hoped to encourage others. “I say, ‘Stay triumphant. Keep on living.’ That is what I wanted people to hear — I wanted people who didn’t have the strength. … That’s why I’m glad that I put this record out, because that’s what it meant to me. And I was also singing what I would want to sing in an encouraging way to my kids.” Carey’s twins with Cannon, Monroe and Moroccan, celebrated their first birthday in April.
There’s a good chance “Triumphant” will have the impact Carey’s hoping for, as she’s heard from fans how her songs have changed their lives.
“This (BMI Icon) award is so amazing because … this is really about songwriting and there have been many times that people have told me throughout my career that: ‘This song has changed my life,’ ‘This song helped me get through the death of a family member,’ ” Carey said.
“And as the writer of that song … there’s no greater feeling than that.”