Madonna is turning 60 this year (Aug 16th). And there have been lots of articles about her, written by those who know her and those who didn’t, and it’s been reminding me of how I became a fan when I was a lot younger.
I was three years old when I bopped along to Lucky Star in my car seat (or so I’ve been told– I can’t say I actually remember that.) I’m not even truly sure when I first really became a conscious fan of hers. Her music seemed to be everywhere; albums like True Blue and Like a Virgin were at the top of the charts. I can still easily sing along to most everything of her 80s work, with very few slip-ups.
But I think it was Like a Prayer that really got me into her work. At least, it was the first Madonna album where I was quite aware of it being released, and aware of the controversies around it, and around the video(s).
A black saint. Her dancing in front of burning crosses. That Pepsi commercial.
In trying to pin down exactly what 10-year-old me liked about Madonna, what comes to mind is that she was powerful. She was doing what she wanted, and she got attention, and she didn’t seem to care if anyone criticized what she was doing. A lot of it went over my head (and a lot of it I actually wasn’t allowed to watch given my age; I only just a few years ago finally watched Truth or Dare), but she was a compelling figure. I know at least part of that admiration stemmed from the fact that I was still a kid, and still didn’t have a whole lot of say about what went on in my life, what I could wear, and what I could do. And as someone who has always been pretty introverted (and at that time, quite shy as well), I admired that she could put it all out there.
I began to lose interest with Music; something about that newer dance music didn’t do much for me. But the 80s and 90s albums were seminal records for me. Madonna, Like a Virgin, True Blue, Like a Prayer, Erotica, Bedtime Stories (not so much) and Ray of Light, You Can Dance, and The Immaculate Collection. I still have favourite songs (Lucky Star, Into the Groove, Live to Tell, Like a Prayer, Express Yourself, Oh Father, Love Song, In This Life), and occasionally will listen to her on my iPod, but my fandom is not as strong as it once was.
Even still, it’s easy to think back to my childhood and early adolescence and think of one of her songs, or one of her albums, which provided the soundtrack to my early life. (From about age 14-15, it started to become about David Bowie as the soundtrack!)
So, Happy Birthday, Ms. Ciccone.