N.B.: Please note that hyperlinks in this blog contain links to sexually explicit and/or violent material. Readers are advised to use their personal judgment in viewing this material.
I’ve been uploading and digitising my CD collection in preparations to head off into the world with it all stored neatly on a portable hard drive. Can I say how much I love the modern world! This of course means that I don’t really need to keep the physical CDs themselves. So it’s the emotional attachments to some of the music that began to make me think.
Madonna has generally provided the soundtrack to my life since the early 80s. Her music really hit it big with Like A Virgin. I was a pimply faced 14 year old, naively singing away to words that I really didn’t have a fully grasp of. God I was innocent. A good catholic boy.
When I started to really question the tenants of the doctrine prescribed to me by the church, there she was to. Right beside me, rallying against the church on sex and pregnancy in Papa Don’t Preach and questioning the mysteries of life in Like a Prayer. I was learning that it was okay to truly start to Express myself.
At university, when I plunged myself in layered black second hand clothing and 13 whole Doc Martin boots because I was an individual with all my other individual friends studying Drama and English Literature, i was introduced to my songstress as actress. Suddenly I was Desperately Seeking Susan everywhere. Granted, Madonna wasn’t playing Ophelia or Lady Macbeth, but Madonna fitted here in this quirky little film by Susan Seidelman that explored to “other” world. To a twin like me, this polarity hit home. I was hooked. I was getting Into The Groove.
Now, I am not going to suggest my gal pal should be given any little 13.5 inch gold statuettes. But I will admit to her being a good standard actor in films like Dick Tracy, Evita, and even the trashy Who’s That Girl. Her performances are not out of place amongst the company she is in, and the roles are tailored to her abilities.
During my University days, I also taught Drama at a dance school in Newcastle. This is right at the time when Madonna really launched into theatrical style of concerts she has become synonymous with: Blonde Ambition. My friend Amanda and I could probably still recreate all the choreography of each of those numbers for you today. Sure, she took Malcolm McLaren’s discovery of voguing in the gay subculture and brought it out into the mainstream. But this girl new what was hot before the rest of the world. This is the chick that brought the subversive and gothic Dance Music from underground clubs into the open.
But then, IT happened. We’d all gotten to know her intimately (maybe a little too intimately) playing Truth Or Dare (released as “In Bed With Madonna” in Australia) since the release of the documentary about the Blond Ambition tour. She raised the stakes with Erotica. And THAT book. Was it porn? Was it Art? Was it a naughty young woman still angry at daddy? Everyone was in an uproar. Everyone was talking about Madonna. I was championing my girl at every occasion. I was in my mid 20’s, and only just coming to understand what sex was all about. Suddenly she was telling me it was okay to do things a little differently, to explore, to enjoy. And I have to say, I kinda did. I was living in Sydney, doing dance class, singing lessons, working in cafes, working in theatres, and I finally let go of all my inhibitions about everything (e.g., security, fear, sex, drugs, music, friends, art, life) and lived as I wanted to. We were free and liberated people. And sure, if she was wanting to stand on the side of the road clad in nothing more than a pair of stilettos and matching hand bag, I said, “You go girl!”
As I moved into my thirties, and decided to pull my head out of my own arse, right there beside me, evolving with me, she released Ray Of Light. It was sexy with your clothes on, it was mature, it was cool, it was who I wanted to be. As I danced my way around Hong Kong on a cruise ship, she was dancing her way through Music. For me, along with Like A Prayer, this was probably one of Madonna’s best albums released. Music really did bring the people together. Controversy reared again with the video clip to What It Feels Like For A Girl. The Drowned World concert tour was also my personal favourite. Slick, contemporary, and adult, Madonna was and adult and mature performer. She knew who she was, and I started to knew who I wanted to be.
Like all good relationships, we’ve had our ups and downs. I have never seen Swept Away. We didn’t speak for a long time over American Life album, and currently we are having issues over Hard Candy. I own both of these albums merely to have them as part of my collection. In reference to Hard Candy, I read in one review of Cyndi Lauper‘s Bring Ya To The Brink that “this was the album that Madonna should have made.” I have done performance gigs that I was just doing for the cash. Like “Smash”, a N-Sync and Backstreet Boys cover band. Some of the choices she has made of late have not been as ground breaking and enterprising as previous work. And I guess the same can be said for me. I’ve been too comfortable over the past few years. I haven’t challenged myself creatively. I haven’t worked towards the next stage in my life.
But now there is disruption. Madonna is packing up and going back home to the United States. And strangely enough, I too am packing up and leaving and heading state side for a while, to get a sense of who I am, and reconnect with who I was.
Who we both evolve into from here, I have no idea. But I do know I’ll have her as the soundtrack to the new days ahead, and wait eagerly to see where we both end up from here. My whole family know, that come the day that they come to chuck my tired old carcass into the ground, as the numerable inconsolable masses leave weepin’ and a walin’ from my memorial service, “Holiday” is to be played so loud that I want to be able to hear it from the other side. We will be together until the very end.
Here’s to you, my gal pal, my musical companion, Madonna Louise Ciccone Penn Ritchie. Our Madge!