The Madonna Timeline: Song #21 – ‘She’s Not Me’ – Summer 2008


{Note: The Madonna Timeline is an ongoing feature, where I put the iPod on shuffle, and write a little anecdote on whatever was going on in my life when that Madonna song was released and/or came to prominence in my mind.}

She started dressing like me and talking like me
It freaked me out,
She started calling you up in the middle of the night
What’s that all about?

The iPod has shuffled along to the saucy and slightly scornful ‘She’s Not Me’, from 2008’s Hard Candy album. On its surface, the song is a taunting tale of a person betrayed, but I liked Madonna’s blunt intro to it on the Sticky & Sweet Tour: “Hey ladies, did you ever have a best friend who wanted to do everything that you did, including fuck your boyfriend?”

In Madonna’s case, such wariness of wanna-bes is understandable, but this is the first instance (that I recall) where she actually puts those lines of would-be Madonnas to shame in a song.

She started dying her hair and wearing the same perfume as me,
She started reading my books, and stealing my looks and lingerie…

Someone once asked if I was scared of people copying what I did, or taking photos I posted, or something like that – and when I first started this blog (way back in 2003) I did initially feel a little territorial, but that soon dissipated.

No one else can do what I do. Just like no one else can do what you do. Even if we try to do the exact same thing, it will always be different in some way.

I may not be the most skilled writer, or the greatest photographer, or the best blogger – but there is something that I bring to everything that I do that no one else can bring – it is singularly mine, and mine alone. It is the essence that we all have, that is solely ours, that is ingrained indelibly in all our interactions with the world, in every step we take and every impression we make.

She’s not me,
She doesn’t have my name,
She’ll never have what I have,
It won’t be the same.

It’s somewhat reassuring to think that even someone as definitively strong as Madonna has those moments of doubt, when it’s necessary to remind herself that “It won’t be the same.” Wimps and wanna-be’s need not apply!

As for the song itself, it’s one of the stronger confections off Hard Candy, and I love how such seemingly simple lyrics can convey multiple meanings and readings. In this case, it’s a double entendre of proclaiming that no other woman will ever be “Madonna”, but also that Madonna herself is not the woman that most of us think she is – “She’s not me” could be her refusal to own up to her public image or perception. Given her treatment of the song in the Sticky & Sweet Tour, which finds her harassing and dismissing various versions of her former selves (Material Girl, Slutty Virgin, Open Your Heart Peepshow Vixen, Express Yourself Glamazon), it’s a powerful indictment of the personae we have come to assume as her own.

Never let you forget…
Song #21 ‘She’s Not Me’ – Summer 2008
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