I’ll admit it. I kinda gave up on Madonna. HARD CANDY was okay but that MAGIC wasn’t there. MDNA felt like a mixtape with some passable Madonna songs. But the fire wasn’t there. The hunger wasn’t there. MDNA felt a little bit like Madonna on auto-pilot. I listened to the album a lot but there wasn’t that moment of breathtaking brilliance. There wasn’t that Madonna moment when you are listening and you think to yourself ONLY Madonna could have sung that.
In the past year Madonna has been teasing us on Instagram with various hashtags, song lyrics, and in-studio shots. Never had M taken us so far into the studio with her. Long before we ever heard the songs phrases like “Rebel Heart” “Unapologetic Bitch” and “Bitch I’m Madonna” were part of our vocabulary. Without having heard a note of music, this new era already had an anticipation about it that felt fresh and new. I can’t imagine an MDNA era filled with #girlgonewild hashtags, thank god.
When the demos leaked last week I listened. I’m weak. But when I heard those songs something awakened in me I hadn’t felt in a long time. My unfettered, unconditional, deep love of Madonna. Madonna the artist. Madonna the songwriter. Madonna the human being. For the first time since CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR I could relate. I always loved Madonna because her songs were about my life. And in the past, her best songs were about parts of my life I didn’t discuss out loud. Throughout my whole life I’ve had the music of Stevie Nicks and the music of Madonna to put a voice to the wild and evolving graph inside my head. In the last couple of years Stevie came back. Last week when I heard the Madonna demos, I was blown the fuck away to find that Madonna had come back too.
In these new Madonna demos the lyrics once again talked about a deeper level of thinking and intelligence. On some songs. When I heard “Borrowed Time” I cried. It was the first time I cried hearing a Madonna song since 2005. It hurts my heart how divided and confused we are as a population right now. That song reached into my guts and struck a chord. Fuck.
And some of the other songs were just fun as fuck. And they literally sounded FUN. Not forced fun. But that real unbridled carefree fun that Madonna could only evoke. The new fun Madonna songs harken back to that un-self conscious hands-over-my-head freedom I hadn’t felt in years. I’m almost 40 now. I am usually too grumpy to dance. With the new Madonna demos in my CD players I danced for the first time in years. I didn’t care if anyone was looking, even though no one was looking.
Last night Madonna officially released six songs. The new album is going to be called REBEL HEART. The cover is fucking gorgeous. And the music. It’s as cutting edge as Madonna ever was. It’s as unexpected, heartfelt, fun, provocative, and genuine as the best Madonna ever was. And the best part is that these songs don’t really throw back to a previous Madonna era. These songs are REBEL HEART era through and through.
I was added to a Facebook group by a friend from Orlando earlier in the year. During the unfolding of the new Madonna era I got to share my thoughts and excitement with all the people in the group. It’s been such a pleasure. For the last couple years I’ve felt alienated and lost at sea. Through the love of Madonna I feel connected to people in a way I haven’t in a while. For those of us who love her, she provoks the deepest parts of ourselves. I have even reconnected with old friends in this group and I am so so so thankful to the universe to have these friends back in my life to share this new, glorious era of Madonna. All six songs released last night wow me. They are perfect. She sounds the best she’s sounded since RAY OF LIGHT. The opening track “Living For Love” perfectly encompasses how I feel about life right now. I’ve been hurt. My soul has been grinded down. But fuck it, I’m gonna carry on. Hearing “Living For Love” makes me feel alive again. It makes me feel like I can fall in love again. That wild fucking passionate amazing kind of love. Laugh at me if you must, but it DOES take a Madonna song to awaken that part of myself. In a world full of murder, violence, racial divide, and stife…goddamn if I’m not certain that the love is going to prevail. Motherfucking #livingforlove FOR REAL. That Madonna song is the audio equivalent of the way I want to wrap my arms around this globe and just scream out my love for humanity.
Thank you Madonna. Thank you for taking the time in the studio. Thanks for caring again. Thanks for being fully invested. Because when you care…you make some of the best pop music that’s ever been made. It’s so reassuring to me as a musician myself to know that at 56 one can be as vital, sexy, provocative, carefree, fun, and intelligent as ever. No more feeling dead and sorry for myself at 40. There’s too much love and passion from the depth of my own rebel heart.
With REBEL HEART Madonna transcends all of her peers. She is in David Bowie territory now. A true life-long artist who makes music as good now as her first album. Maybe even better.
Madonna, I fucking love you. I love your new songs. I can’t fucking wait to hear the rest of the album in March. I’m gonna carry on.