Living with…Madonna…for a week
I. Madonna on the Wall
Madonna was the first woman who shared my bedroom. On the wall.
There is an age that a boy reaches when his mind turns to how he can cover the walls of his adequately decorated bedroom with the markings of his tribe. Held up by blu tac and thumbtacks..
From the beginning these were for me the blue and white markings of my football tribe – the team poster for that year, the star player his name now long forgotten, the signed programme with a crowd shot featuring me standing in a sun hat in the ‘chicken run’. The Shoot league table that allowed you to move teams up and down week on week. A subboteo catalogue. And then in 1983, the large Cup Final flag hanging resplendently above all, a moment of nearly glory that was really glory.
From the early 80s the music started to intrude on to the walls. I didn’t succumb to painting my room black and white in honour of Debbie Harry like some of my friends. Instead there were posters of sweaty Freddie Mercury strutting around as an irmine-clad queen. In hindsight, probably more alarming.
And then music brought ART. Glorious Roger Dean posters and album covers. Classic Yes, speaking of exotic worlds beyond stadiums. And then that boy from U2’s War staring out with challenge in his eyes. Bands with wild windswept hair in black and white also trying to stare out with challenge in their eyes.
Its 1985 and the first day in a new small sparse bedroom in a student flat with a large blank board prepared on one wall for the tribal markings. The team poster, a photo of Elwood and Jake Blues, a Garfield card, the fading blue flag and astride it all, a vast Unforgettable Fire poster bought the first morning.
That first week she appeared in the middle of the board, a page cut from a magazine, slightly tatty around the edges. Desperately Seeking Madonna. Staring with brassy confidence and a different challenge at the camera, knowing that she had broken this last male bastion. The inevitable Marilyn Monroe postcard followed a few days later, but Madonna was the first. And she knew it.
II. The Wrong Choice?
In the summer of 1990 I stood with tens of thousands on the pitch of a sweltering Wembley, back to the scene of the nearly glory in 1983. Its so hot that they’re throwing water over the crowd during the long long wait for the Queen of Pop to appear. I can’t remember much now beyond the pointy bras and Madonna writhing on an enormous bed surrounded by dancers with more pointy bras. Or maybe that’s because thats the only bit they ever show of that concert now. It was great, a great day out…I just can’t remember much.
P has discovered the song Like a Prayer recently and loves it as much as I loved it when I first heard it. Pure pop swelling with a glorious gospel chorus. So I thought I’d impress her by saying I’d seen Madonna live at Wembley. I could have seen Michael Jackson that summer, but I chose Madonna.
“You could have seen Michael Jackson?! And you chose Madonna!”
“Dad, you made the wrong choice”
I agreed to differ. Guess, that won’t be the last time we have that conversation where I’ve got it wrong.
III. The Italian job
I’m spending the week with Madonna’s 1989 acclaimed Like a Prayer album. Pure pop heaven to open with- the uplifting title track Like a Prayer, followed by the confident call to Express Yourself. Despite the attempt to ruin it all by partnering with Prince, this is a wonderful pop album with further gems Promise to try, Cherish and Oh Father (the latter is brought to life beautifully by the video). It all seems very personal, dealing with her family and cultural background while stirring in sex and religious controversy – she knows how to exploit publicity as well as the next. But all in all, a pleasure to revisit a woman at the peak of her craft as she mixes styles and moods with confidence. I heartily recommend revisiting it.
Madonna Louise Ciccone is probably one of the most famour Italian-American people of recent years (with the possible exception of the fictitious Rocky Balboa). Its that time of the school term which parents and children dread – the school project. P has chosen Italy as her topic and we’ll be cooking Italian to this album alongside others over the weekend, of which more next week.
There are difficult choices this week for the youtube clip so I’m going to cop out and list both my video favourites from this album.
Glee Watch A Glee Wedding. Hmmm, is it just me or is Kurt beginning to get a little annoying?