The Madonna Timeline: Song #72 – ‘I Want You’ – Fall 1995

{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.}

I want you the right way
I want you, but I want you to want me too
Want you to want me baby
Just like I want you…

The Fall of 1995 marked a transition period for Madonna. After the chilly years following the Erotica/Sex furor, she had rebounded slightly and was on the precipice of making one of her signature transformations (into Eva Peron). In preparation for that, she released a collection of her ballads, entitled ‘Something to Remember’. Personally, I’ve felt the key to Madonna has always been hidden within her slow songs, when lyrically she gets to be a little more introspective, and sonically we hear the strain and heartache in her voice.

As with her other best-of collections, there were a few new tracks, and the album kicks off with one of them, ‘I Want You’ – a slowed-down trippy take on Marvin Gaye’s soulful classic. Given the Massive Attack treatment, it picks up where ‘Bedtime Stories’ left off – in that sizzling electro-fizzing soundscape that is both intimate and distant. In her great pantheon of moody music, this may be one of her moodiest. As such, it was one of my favorites at the time it came out, though the ensuing years have lessened its scope and power.

I’ll give you all the love I want in return
But half a love is all I feel, sweet darling
It’s too bad, it’s just too sad
You don’t want me no more
But I’m gonna change your mind
Some way, somehow…

There will always be something beautiful about solitude for those of us who have had to endure it. It’s not always pretty, it’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, but it carries its own beauty. The beauty of longing.

Most of us have had those moments, waiting for the phone to ring when it never does, yearning and hoping and fighting the hopeless battle to fight all those feelings, giving in and giving up, crying to yourself, and crying into your pillow, and draining your body of tears and fluid and the ability to feel.

How much have I wanted, how much have I yearned, and how much was ever returned? That kind of deficit can never be made up, no matter how many people come to love you. A whole world of love can never fill that emptiness, and when someone tries, when someone starts to love you back, you’re never entirely sure what to do with it.

One way love is just a fantasy
To share is precious, pure and fair
Don’t play with something you should cherish for life
Oh baby, don’t you wanna care?
Ain’t it lonely out there?


I don’t recognize that person anymore. Vestiges certainly remain, after-effects linger, but for the most part he is gone. Practicality, maturity, or simple exhaustion wore out those charged emotional fields years ago. Overwhelmingly, this has been a good thing. At odd times, I miss it. I miss him. I miss the ability to access that kind of ferocious pain, those nights of endless want, these moments of heightened feeling. I miss the sense of being alive… I miss the sense of want.

From our earliest cognition, it is what most of us have done: we want. Whether love or material possessions or understanding or compassion or comfort or happiness, it has always come down to want. Selfish, demanding, all-encompassing want – for him, for her, for those, for that, for more and more and ever more – for life. At the risk of all, I want for everything. It is the human condition. It will never be enough.

I want you, the right way
Want me, baby
Don’t play with something
You should cherish for life.
Song #72 – ‘I Want You’ – Fall 1995
Back to Blog
Back to Blog