The Madonna Timeline: Song #58 – ‘Buenos Aires – Holiday 1996

{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.}

What’s new Buenos Aires?
I’m new!
I wanna say I’m just a little stuck on you,
You’ll be on me too.

Not-so-secret confession: I don’t sing. Well. I don’t sing well. But I love to do it, when alone, usually in the car on a long-distance drive in some strange state where passers-by don’t stand a chance of recognizing me. (Once I was belting out a Norma Desmond aria on Western Ave. and my friend Paul was sitting in the car next to me laughing his ass off. I’ve never sung on Western Ave. since.) What does this have to do with the next iPod selection for the Madonna Timeline, ‘Buenos Aires’? Well, back in 1996, as I was preparing for the Royal Rainbow World Tour, I recorded myself singing this song, over and over, on a cassette tape, and then sending it out to a highly-select group of friends. It remains one of my most embarrassing moments, in a lifetime of embarrassing moments (mistaken for a clown at Ponderosa anyone?)

I get out here, Buenos Aires
Stand back!
You ought to know
What you’re gonna get in me
Just a little touch of star quality.

At the time I didn’t care – it was such a fun song, and I was so excited about Madonna in Evita that I would have done just about anything to express my joy. That’s the problem when I get really psyched about something – I want to share it with everyone, and I can’t contain the exuberance inside, so it ends up spilling out in all sorts of silly manners. Case in point: me singing ‘Buenos Aires’ (and I won’t even mention the ad-libbing that went on – let’s just say the phrase, ‘If you got titties, shake ‘em!’ may have escaped these lips more than once.)

Fill me up with your heat, with your noise
With your dirt, overdo me!
Let me dance to your beat, make it loud
Let it hurt, run it through me!
Don’t hold back, you are certain to impress
Tell the driver this is where I’m staying.
Hello, Buenos Aires!
Get this, just look at me dressed up, somewhere to go
We’ll put on a show…

Putting on a show is all I wanted to do, so when I was visiting my friends, I made them all see Evita with me. I took troupes from Ithaca, Rochester, and Boston to take in the spectacle of Madonna as Eva Peron in a big-budget musical extravaganza, and for the most part people were politely impressed. Granted, it would never quite reach the excitement that I was experiencing, but most were good sports about it (especially Suzie, who took in a 2 AM showing of it in NYC AFTER seeing the musical Chicago – that’s a musical-soaked evening for anyone, and she was a trooper.)

Take me in at your flood, give me speed
Give me lights, set me humming
Shoot me up with your blood, wine me up
With your nights, watch me coming
All I want is a whole lot of excess
Tell the singer this is where I’m playing
Stand back, Buenos Aires
Because you oughta know what you’re gonna get in me
Just a little touch of star quality…

Fortunately, when all we need at this time of the year is a break from holiday madness, this song lends itself to silliness – and if you read the lyrics alone you may want to take Tim Rice to task for some of them. It’s one of the dancier-ditties from the Evita opus, with some Latin-inspired percussion and a driving beat. Personally, I love it, and it’s the moment when the movie truly starts to soar.

And if ever I go too far
It’s because of the things you are
Beautiful town, I love you
And if I need a moment’s rest
Give your lover the very best
Real eiderdown and silence.

At this point, Eva was just starting out on her own, making her way to a strange city, and doing whatever it took to get by. That sort of struggle was familiar to Madonna as well, and to anyone who got away from home and had to learn to be all right alone. It’s a time of desperation and desire, a drawn-out moment of being on-the-verge – of your future, of your life, of the person you were destined to become. For those who dare to try, who dare to dream, there is always the threat of extinction, but it is always worth the risk. We thrash ourselves about and put it all on display so you don’t have to.

You’re a tramp, you’re a treat
You will shine to the death, you are shoddy
But you’re flesh, you are meat
You shall have every breath in my body
Put me down for a lifetime of success
Give me credit, I’ll find ways of paying…

In the midst of holiday mayhem, sometimes you just need to get away from the insanity, escaping to a place of fantasy and make-believe, the idealized city-scape of Eva’s Buenos Aires for example, where all you need to conquer the world is a dance and a dream, and just a little touch of star quality.

Song #58 – ‘Buenos Aires’ – Holiday 1996
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