To this day, I know every Debbie Gibson lyric by heart. Even the last word to the last song on the B-side of her first album. (Between the Lines was actually one of her better songs, in my opinion.) To say that I was a fan was an understatement. I wanted to be Debbie. I wore black felt hats to look like Debbie. I even bought her “Electric Youth” perfume, which resembled a battery-powered deodorant stick.
The first (and only) time I saw Debbie in concert at Madison Square Garden, I was speechless. From the nose-bleed section, Debbie was as itty-bitty as a crumb. But it was her. And her voice was echoing directly from her lips to my ears. Somehow, she knew how I felt about boys and life and youth and love. And to this day, it was still the most memorable concert of my life. (With John Mayer as a close second, and Color Me Badd in dead last.)
It’s easy to make light of today’s tween pop music or simply shake it off. (See what I did there?) But the truth is that each of these young performers is shaping lives (for better or worse) for only a few short critical years. I stopped listening to Debbie as soon as I became old enough to hang out with boys who listened to Dave Matthews. I replaced my Debbie tapes with Dave CDs. I threw away my felt hats. And our relationship came to an end.
But deep down, her songs still fill my heart in ways that sometimes surprise me. I’d be lying to say that “Out of the Blue” isn’t the most played song on my Ipod. And when I’m in the shower, I’ve been known to belt out a few of her lyrics I can’t believe I still remember. Yep, Debbie Gibson’s music is tattooed on my soul forever. While most folks today are shaking it off, I’m still shaking your love.