The Madonna Timeline: Song #30 – ‘Incredible’ – September 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.}

Just one of those things
When everything goes incredible
And all is beautiful
(Can’t get my head around it, I need to think about it)

(Can’t get my head around it, I need to think about it)
 And all of those things
That used to get you down
Now have no effect at all
Cause life is beautiful
(Can’t get my head around it, I need to think about it)

(Can’t get my head around it, I need to think about it)

The day started out in the sunny Mission District of San Francisco, with a breakfast at a corner diner, windows open, the morning walking lazily by. My friend Chris and I were about to hit the road and the long drive South – to the Santa Barbara area. Being a Northeastern boy, I always underestimate distances in other states, particularly those as long as California. I was attending another friend’s wedding, so I asked Chris if he wanted to drive down with me, not realizing exactly how far of a drive it would be, especially when taking the scenic Pacific Coast Highway route.

Most of Madonna’s songs, particularly in latter years, are what I would consider evening songs – moody, dark, and dramatic – perfect for a night out, and doubly good for an evening in – but not many are made for the morning. ‘Incredible’ is one of her morning songs – for greeting the day with promise and excitement, especially when that day is sunny and overflowing with the anticipation of a happy destination and unforgettable journey.

Remembering the very first time
You caught that some one’s special eye
And all of your cares dropped
And all of the world just stopped.
(I hope) I want to go back to then
Got to figure out how, got to remember when
I felt it, it thrilled me
I want it, to fill me

Chris is a good guy, and a lifelong friend, and while he doesn’t hate Madonna, he’s certainly not her biggest fan. But for some reason, he loves this song. And he played it at least twenty five times in a row – no exaggeration. Suddenly I was being paid back by my brother and mother for all the car rides in which I played Madonna relentlessly. And I got it. I got it good. But at the beginning, it was just the California breeze in my hair, the sun up above, and the great Pacific to our right as we wound our way down the coast.

You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone
And everything in life just goes wrong
Feels like nobody’s listening
And something is missing

Guy bonding is easier than girl bonding somehow – there is less pretense, less preening – and there’s an ease to being with one of my straight guy friends that I haven’t found in straight women or gay men. Maybe it’s the underlying fact that we’re not one another’s competition, theoretically or realistically.

Chris winds us along the Pacific Coast, which is now lined with fog, affording only brief, tantalizing glimpses of the rocky shore and the ocean beyond. We make a few stops – including a break at the naturally majestic Post Ranch Inn (where we could just barely afford an appetizer, much less a night at the Inn – which runs up to $2285 – yes, per night).

When the fog parted, we took a moment to pull off the road before dusk descended. Groups of seals and sea birds huddled on the shore. Sharks inhabited these waters, and as the wind picked up and the light went, I shuddered at the thought of their dark world, equally enthralled and repelled. Then it was back on the road, and the darkening way South.

I remember when
You were the one
You were my friend
You gave me life
You were the sun
You taught me things
I didn’t run
I fell to my knees
I didn’t know why
I started to breathe
I wanted to cry
I need a reminder
So I can relate
I need to go back there
Before it’s too late

After about eight hours of driving (or riding as the case may be), I was over it – the song, the car, the traffic, and even the Madonna Inn, which we passed. We stopped for dinner around San Luis Obispo, recharging for the final stretch, and as we pulled into the hotel, I think we were both a little crazy.

It’s time to get your hands up
It’s time to get your body moving…

Some Madonna songs are great for driving – and while the 50th play of this one pushed it, ‘Incredible’ is the perfect driving song, especially along the shore of California with one of your best friends.

Let’s finish what we started
You’re welcome to my party…
I don’t want this to end
I am missing my best friend
It was incredible
There is no reason…
Song #30: ‘Incredible’ – September 2008
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