I’ve written multiple pieces about what an impact Madonna’s music has had on my life. It seems for the last thirty years no matter what twist, turn, or sharp curve my life has taken this woman always shows up with the perfect song that sums it all up in a neat verse-chorus-verse. It really is uncanny how this singer I’ve never met and probably never will always seems to have her finger on my own pulse. There’s nothing more beautiful and profound than the power of art and music. The artists who write your soundtrack sometimes feel closer than family.
Madonna and I hung out during HARD CANDY and MDNA but we weren’t quite as close. The songs reached inside of me but quite as deep. I played those albums a thousand times but I don’t think they ever made me cry. Most Madonna albums make me cry at one time or another.
I never expected Madonna and I to be this close again. Unexpectedly I began to hear new Madonna songs that somehow bypassed all my defenses and electrocuted me. REBEL HEART (the new Madonna album) is just as emotional, strange, exhilarating, and complex as her best past work. REBEL HEART is much like the 40 year old me: weary, vain, lonely, horny, hopeful, in touch, way out of touch, immature, wise, and reflective. I’m not easy to figure out and either is REBEL HEART. If anything it conjures the old truism that we are always age 8, 28, and 80 at the same time. REBEL HEART again reveals Madonna to be a multifaceted woman and it’s a complete tour of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Damn I needed this album right now.
As the official release of the album looms us mega-fans are salivating over every development. We all watched the Grammys together and jumped online to comment. We critiqued the artworks. We debate the single-choice and final track selection. And this Madonna camaraderie fused together once again yesterday to watch her performance on the Brit Awards.
My friend Okie text me the news. Madonna had been pulled down a flight of stairs. I initially didn’t take the text very seriously. I figured it was another misstep similar to the one in the Super Bowl. Upon jumping into my favorite Madonna forum I began to read the reactions to the performance…and the fall. This was serious business.
With trepidation I went upstairs to my laptop to watch the performance. I am never a fan of watching videos designed to portray people in vulnerable, awful moments for the sake of entertainment. Part of me didn’t want to watch the Madonna fall video at all. But I had to so I did.
I watched in horror. This wasn’t a fall. This was a massive tumble that could have caused brain damage or serious injury. Seeing a woman who means so much to me have such an accident was jarring to say the least. Being a mega-Madonna fan I know how important perfection is to her. My heart hurt watching the fall. I knew how heartbroken and humiliated Madonna must have felt. I hate seeing a woman I look up to that much feel humiliated. I want the best for her at all times.
But then…after laying on the floor for a couple seconds…leaving the whole auditorium wondering how serious the injury was…Madonna stood up. She looked dizzy and defeated. She wrapped her cape around her. She took a few wobbly and uncertain steps. And then she fucking started singing. She started singing her new song about rising up from disaster and heartbreak. There’s one point in the performance during the words “carry on” that she almost spits them out. Real life intersected with “Living For Love” in an unexpected and profound way. And in a performance that wasn’t staged or planned…Madonna fucking showed the world that she meant what she said. She was going to indeed carry on. And she did.
At the end of the performance Madonna holds the bullhorns over her head triumphantly. The look on her face kills me. Sadness, defeat, triumph, joy, fear, and glory all pass over her face in a thousand milliseconds. That’s my fucking Madonna. She took a fall that could have killed her and only missed a couple lines of a song that clearly means a lot to her…and to me.
Last night’s performance of “Living For Love” on the Brits has impacted me the same way Madonna’s best songs have. The performance reminded me so much of my own life in the last few years. Many times as I was standing on the precipice of glory and triumph life has come along and violently plummeted me to the ground. You never plan it and you never invite it, but doesn’t life always have a way of throwing you off the cliff when you least expect it? That’s what life did to Madonna last night.
And her reaction is why Madonna is one of my heroes. And why I’ve survived my own life. No matter how many stairs life throws me down I get up and start singing after only missing a line or two. Thank you Madonna for getting up and singing. You are such an inspiration to me at a time when I feel tired and lifeless. In a world where people talk a lot of bullshit and post endless self-affirmations on Facebook…you are one of the rare people who means what you say.
When Madonna says that after the heartache she’s going to carry on…she fucking means it. Her performance at The Brits is living proof. #livingforlove
Madonna impacts me as much at 40 as she did at 8. I didn’t think it was possible…but after what happened at the Brits last night…I think I love Madonna as an artist even more than I did before.