Céline Dion: Still Getting Us Moist–Er, Verklempt–20 Years Later With “My Heart Will Go On”

The Billboard Music Awards has come to show its strength and influence in the arena of the award show genre of late, and the entity was given further cachet with Madonna’s venomously powerful acceptance speech for Billboard’s Woman of the Year last October. More than any other giver of accolades in the music business, Billboard is perhaps the most valuable because it is a literal chart of success (then again, mass public opinion can be quite… bad). Among other unique performances of the night, including Cher doing “Believe” and “If I Could Turn Back Time,” the ceremony also saw fit to pay homage to the twentieth anniversary of the song you couldn’t not hear every time you turned the radio on in 1997. That’s right, “My Heart Will Go On,” the track that makes Titanic even more upsetting.

It was only early last year that Céline Dion lost her (much older) husband, René Angélil, which suffused “My Heart Will Go On” with an even more potent tinge of melancholy and conviction in her live performance of it in Las Vegas last night. Wearing what can best be described as a glacier, Dion delivered the lyrics as though they were as fresh and new as when she first uttered them. In that whispering tone of hers she bemoaned, “Love can touch us one time and last for a lifetime,” and yes, we truly believe her, because we know this is the love she had with René, as gross as you may find that to be. Because love isn’t about looks or age, it really is about a commingling of two souls that understand one another–and though it may sound like I’ve just written some off the cuff cliche wedding vows, I truly believe it.

“My Heart Will Go On” is proof of that. The fact that the song can still bring tears to people’s eyes and prompt a standing ovation is a testament to how much it resonates. Some of us are lucky enough to have experienced the love Dion talks about in the song without actually having to lose it. Others of us, well, we’re fucking Rose, which is worse than being Jack because at least he’s dead and doesn’t know the pain of loss like the former. Though, at its core, the iconic love song is about moving on while keeping the love you had for your proverbial corazón within you, I like to think of “My Heart Will Go On” as a nod to how you can still persist in living through the heartache you’ve endured now that the ventricles have stopped pumping blood through the organ altogether. But even with a lifeless heart, you’re going to continue getting verklempt every time you hear this song, even another twenty years from now.