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The Madonna Timeline: Song #31 – ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ – January 1997

{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.}

Gray shadows, one-night stands, the lost and the lonely, and the sad, unbearable waking of the morn. Such is the selection of the iPod shuffle, which has chosen ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ from Madonna’s film Evita. It was early 1997. I was single and trying valiantly to be fabulous. (Sometimes being fabulous means being kind of slutty.)

I don’t expect my love affairs to last for long,
Never fool myself that my dreams will come true
Being used to trouble I anticipate it,
But all the same I hate it wouldn’t you?

I was on the road with The Royal Rainbow World Tour, and Evita had just opened. Visiting friends in snowy Rochester, New York, I wore a leopard coat and fuschia silk shirt to see the film with a few friends. A little touch of star quality in dismal upstate NY. I was running away from having to start my real life, going on this world-wide jaunt to put off settling down now that I had graduated from Brandeis. Boston was still my home-base, but I preferred the vagabond nomadic excitement of living out of my parents’ Blazer, a rack of fancy frockery in the backseat, a sequin purse of toll coins in the front, and a small collection of necklaces dangling from the rearview mirror. I drove all night just to get away from myself.

So what happens now?
So what happens now?
Where am I going to?
Where am I going to?

In Rochester there was a poster store that carried a nice selection of postcards. A black and white image of a naked man, sitting on the edge of a bed in the morning light. Head down, clothes scattered on the floor, and the rumpled sheets of a duet or solitary struggle. It is hard to tell which is which, and the light of day doesn’t do much to aid in recovery. I had been in that position, had hung my head that low, and I would do so again and again in the years to come.

Time and time again I’ve said that I don’t care,
That I’m immune to gloom, that I’m hard through and through
But every time it matters all my words desert me
So anyone can hurt me and they do.

I preferred to stay in hotels rather than at my friends’ dorm rooms or apartments. Even then solitude was comforting to me, my natural state being one of distance, slight detachment – always separate from the rest of the world, even from my friends and family. And then again… distance lends enchantment

So what happens now?
So what happens now?
Where am I going to?
Where am I going to?

And now the saddest part of the song, the refrain that rang in my head on so many mornings after:

Call in three months’ time and I’ll be fine, I know,
Well maybe not that fine, but I’ll survive anyhow
I won’t recall the names and places of each sad occasion,
But that’s no consolation here and how.

How many times had I calculated the number of months the pain would last? I tried all sorts of equations – usually it was half the length of the relationship, if there even was a relationship. It was more tricky when there were sudden feelings after just a single night. Yes, decidedly more tricky, and somehow inversely more painful. It was the apathy and general disregard that used to hurt the most. I could never understand – not then – how one could not feel anything.

So what happens now?
So what happens now?
Where am I going to?
Where am I going to?
Don’t ask anymore

Song #31: ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’ – January 1997

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