Thursday, November 17, 2011
I hear you call my name and it feels like... home (Madonna)
I've been a fan on and off of Madonna Louise Ciccone (born one year after me in August 1958) since she hit the world's stage (barnstormed it really) in 1983.
My first contact with Madonna was Live Aid and her strutting around doing Holiday. It was fantastic; like nothing I'd ever seen before.
She lost me after Like A Prayer, around Erotica time, and I came back on board for Bedtime Stories and onwards until I left again with Hard Candy.
Within that orbit I have enjoyed some wonderful songs and singalongs with Madge. Curiously I have never had the slightest inclination to be interested in her public/private life (where does she draw the distinction I wonder) like I have with Lennon, Harrison etc. It's her music and stellar writing that I love so much.
Here are my tight five:
1. Live to Tell (1986)
This was a watershed song (from True Blue). There was a new maturity to her voice and a change of tack from the tried and true (blue) with a less poppy bubblegum approach. The ballad format works too. She didn't really return to this voice until Bedtime Stories/Ray Of Light which was a shame I think.
2. Cherish (1989)
From the Like A Prayer album and we're in transition (she sings this one close to her helium mode). This is the end of the first Madonna period and before she set off on the sexually explicit stuff that isn't my preference.
My album copy is scented with patchouli oil (still - after all these years it still smells great) and this song is the aural equivalent. A fantastic little confection of a love song. There is an innocence present here that sounds genuine to me. Now that is remarkable given what we know of Madonna. Innocence and Madonna in the same sentence? Absurd right? But listen without prejudice and you'll catch the virginal.
Then you watch the video and that's all blown out of the...um...water.
3. Frozen 1998
Ray Of Light was such a great album - chockablock with cool sounds and a different approach. In many ways my favourite sequence of albums was this one, then Music and American Life and Confessions On A Dancefloor. Great music doesn't date. A lot of early 80's Madonna hasn't aged that well but those four albums will stand the test of time. She should be proud of herself. They are a remarkable achievement.
4. Papa Don't Preach 1986
This one was a bit weird. It came out during a video strike or something in the mid eighties in NZ. Suddenly you couldn't see any music videos on TV and this was death to an artist like Madonna. Her visual style has always been wound up in her music. Presentation has sometimes been at the expense of quality.
So I had to rely on a friend who owned a record shop for music videos. I remember playing this at Macleans College at lunchtime to students and it had a huge effect. The video is great and the song is so well constructed. A cautionary tale and so well captured in film.
5. Hung up 2005
2005 and me and some of my family are living in England and I was teaching in Benfleet. This song was our soundtrack in the car when I drove my daughters to school (we were all at the same place).
Every time I hear it I instantly recall the fun we had singing along!