Though Robyn really came into her own after her 2005 self-titled album, her 1995 debut, Robyn Is Here, was a huge hit off the single “Show Me Love.” Given that album’s success, you’d think her American label would be more than happy to release My Truth, her intended 1999 follow-up. But instead Robyn’s second album wasn’t released in the United States. Why? Because she sang about her own abortion on two songs.
In a New York Times profile of Robyn, the fact that Robyn’s second album didn’t come out in America only gets a brief mention. Caryn Ganz writes, “[Robyn Is Here‘s] follow-up, My Truth, didn’t make it to the States, partly because Robyn included songs she wrote about having an abortion. ‘You can’t really talk about stuff like that in America, or you couldn’t at the time,’ she said. ‘Not if you were an 18-year-old pop star.'”
The songs in question were “Giving You Back” and “88 Days.” (You can hear them below.) And at the time, the fact that the songs were about an abortion was covered up by the press. A 1999 Billboard article says “Giving You Back” was written after a miscarriage, not an abortion.
The reference to a miscarriage is odd given that, lyrically, Robyn’s second album doesn’t beat around the bush. “Giving You Back” opens with the lines “In another time / Another life / In another situation I / Would have made you mine / Would have taken time / To make sure you’d be fine / I could feel you coming / … And it hurts me so / To let you go / I want you to live / But I’m not all I wanna give.”
“88 Days” is admittedly a bit more general. Knowing the song is about her abortion, it’s easy to see it’s about mentally coming to terms with it. Just see lyrics like “I’ve got work to be done,” “I light a candle in the morning / To signify that you’re still on my mind” and “I’ve got to get my spirit ready / For when the springtime comes / 88 days ’til the sun.” But without knowing the backstory, one could believe it’s about a failed romantic relationship.
Even today, the only pre-2005 Robyn album available in the American iTunes store is Robyn Is Here. Given that with digital distribution, many long out-of-print albums have become available, the lack of My Truth and Don’t Stop the Music (Robyn’s third album) on iTunes is jarring.
Listen to the two songs from My Truth that caused Robyn’s second album not to come out in the United States:
What do you think of My Truth? Will a release of Robyn’s second album ever happen Stateside?
Featured image by Ana Cuba, courtesy of the New York Times