Celine Dion has many hits, but My Heart Will Go On is considered her signature song. This is not surprising as My Heart Will Go On is Dion’s best selling single, and, of all the physical singles ever released, it notched up the eleventh highest sales. The song is the theme song of the blockbuster film, Titanic. The song occurs at the climax of the film.
The music for My Heart Will Go On originated as a motif that the composer, James Horner, wove into the film’s soundtrack. Horner approached the lyricist, Will Jennings, to work up a vocal version for the end credits. The song takes the perspective of the character Rose as an elderly woman, mourning her lover, Jack, who died when the Titanic sank.
This cell-phone-screen-bejewelled version of the song is from Dion’s Courage Tour, which started in Quebec, Canada in September 2019, before being interrupted by Covid19. The tour was scheduled to resume in 2022, but has been postponed due to Dion’s “health issues”. My Heart Will Go On was originally released as a single from Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love LP, 1997, and went on to sell approx.18m copies worldwide. This was a slightly re-arranged version of the Titanic song, with re-recorded vocals.
Both Dion and Titanic director James Cameron had reservations about the song. Dion was concerned about being typecast as a theme-song singer after Beauty and the Beast and Look Who’s Talking, while Cameron resisted “going commercial” at the end of his movie. The lyrics were written in secret and Dion was persuaded to record a demo version, which she sang in one take. These vocals were retained for the film. Below is a piano version played from a balcony in Barcelona during the pandemic isolation
Alberto Gestoso’s Covid19 instrumental piano performance for his neighbours went viral, which shows My Heart Will Go On’s enduring appeal. The song had particular resonance at a time when Covid19 deaths were soaring and when people were isolated as the lyrics speak of a love that transcends space and distance. Here the song refers not only to the film character Jack’s premature death, but to the social distance that threatened to separated Rose, who was from a wealthy family, and Jack, who was not.
Given that Celine Dion’s Courage tour was about to be interrupted by Covid19, and has yet to be resumed, the sight of her performing My Heart Will Go On to a packed stadium is poignant. Celine Dion fans are hoping that her health improves so that the Courage tour can go on.