Summer Memories: Has to Be Madonna

{You can play the song, but please ignore the cheesy slide show.}

The official start of summer is upon us, and though it’s been many years since I had summers off, I still get a thrill when the season arrives. There are many summer memories I could share, but most fall flat in the retelling because they don’t so much encapsulate an extraordinary event or interesting happening as much as they evoke the feelings I had at the time.

I remember the summer of 1998 quite distinctly, though I wasn’t working full-time. Staying with my parents was the easy way out of a hot city summer in Boston. I think it was during the last few weeks of my retail stint at Structure, and I was in and out of the Malls constantly. The sterile white-washed brightness of Crossgates, so cool despite its roof of windows, offered respite from the heat, and though I spent many moments walking in its endless hallway with countless other shoppers, I often felt alone and isolated.

Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light’ single had just dropped and I picked up the CD-maxi with the B-side ‘Has to Be’. It was from her ‘Ray of Light’ sessions, ambient and moody, and perfect for the purgatorial summer doldrums that were about to set in.

Outside, the car was an oven. I opened the windows and cranked the AC before stepping back out into the sunshine. A wave of heat escaped, rising above the steaming roof. Tearing off the plastic wrapper, I pulled the CD out and examined the artwork. A bright multi-pointed star spun around its axis, the same minimalist fare on an aqua background that signaled the ‘Ray of Light’ release.

In the CD player, Madonna’s voice intoned, “Breathe in, breathe out… I say a little prayer.” A dirge-like plaintive delivery with the cool, watery, electronic vibe provided by William Orbit, the song was rightfully a B-side, but like most of her throwaway work, there were a few glimmers of brilliance.

I know there’s someone out there
Waiting for me,
There must be someone out there
There just has to be… 

I should be glad that I’m alive,
It could have been much worse.
I might have never loved at all,
And never known what I am worth

In the heat of the afternoon, summer left me feeling haunted, and restless. I went back to Boston, walking the steamy streets at night and waiting for love to reveal itself.


Back to Blog

Leave a reply

Back to Blog