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The Madonna Timeline: Song #118 – ‘Living For Love’ – Winter 2015

mad living love 001

 {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.}

THIS WILL BE A REVOLUTION OF INQUIRING FURTHER

OF NOT WORRYING ABOUT WINNING OTHER PEOPLE’S APPROVAL

OF NOT WISHING YOU WERE SOMEONE ELSE BUT PERFECTLY CONTENT TO BE WHO YOU ARE:

SOMEONE UNIQUE, AND RARE, AND FEARLESS.

I WANT TO START A REVOLUTION OF LOVE

A grand orchestral introduction and a parade of shirtless minotaur-men ushered in the Madonna of 2015, as she took to the Grammy stage to kick off the ‘Rebel Heart’ era. Most pop stars have only one or two ‘eras’ for which they are known. Madonna has had many: ‘Like A Virgin’, ‘True Blue’, ‘Like A Prayer’, ‘Blonde Ambition’, ‘Erotica/Sex’, ‘Evita’, ‘Ray of Light’, ‘Music’, and ‘Confessions on a Dancefloor.’ Her ‘Rebel Heart’ era may be the most interesting and compelling, at least for long-time fans, as it is the first in which she has not enjoyed major mainstream success. And yet it may be her most artistically powerful and critically lauded.

In early 2015, after the gut-wrenching leak of much of the ‘Rebel Heart’ album, she set out to do a proper intro to her new work with the first single ‘Living For Love.’ With an updated 90’s house feel and some gospel backing, it was first-rate Madonna – an ‘I Will Survive’ for the current generation – rousing, empowering, and gloriously uplifting.

FIRST YOU LOVE ME AND I LET YOU IN,

MADE ME FEEL LIKE I WAS BORN AGAIN

YOU EMPOWERED ME, YOU MADE ME STRONG

BUILT ME UP AND I COULD DO NO WRONG.

 

I LET DOWN MY GUARD, I FELL INTO YOUR ARMS

FORGOT WHO I WAS, I DIDN’T HEAR THE ALARMS

NOW I’M DOWN ON MY KNEES, ALONE IN THE DARK

I WAS BLIND TO YOUR GAME, YOU FIRED A SHOT IN MY HEART.

This was a Madonna draped in the richest red, her passion and heart on full unabashed display, but shot through with a prickly world-wariness that read less as bitter and more as wise. The anticipation and excitement for new Madonna music was always grander than it was for others, and this lead single was a throwback and a step forward. Like a phoenix, she would be called upon to rise a few times, and even though she’d always succeeded, nervousness greeted the arrival of any new work. It was as if I had some vested stake in the reception and success of one of her projects, as if somehow my existence depended in part on the existence of Madonna, as if a failure for her would somehow be a failure for me. That’s a little crazy, but that’s true fandom, and I’ll never apologize for it.

Thanks in no small part to its early leak, the song and video for ‘Living For Love’ failed to catch fire on the charts (with the notable exception of the Billboard Dance charts, where she would land a history-shattering #1, breaking her own record). In a landscape where melody and meaning are losing out to shock and salaciousness, the OG shock mistress barely made a dent. As for the video, I find it may be too deeply beautiful and symbolic to find a place in the current pop world. Yet it appears that Madonna is far beyond that, and has been for some time. For die-hard fans such as myself, the charts no longer as much, if anything at all. The lack of airplay and Billboard numbers has not diminished my love for Madonna’s music; if anything, I listen to it more intently and defiantly.

TOOK ME TO HEAVEN, LET ME FALL DOWN

NOW THAT IT’S OVER I’M GONNA CARRY ON

LIFTED ME UP AND WATCHED ME STUMBLE

AFTER THE HEARTACHE I’M GONNA CARRY ON

 

LIVING FOR LOVE,

I’M LIVING FOR LOVE

NOT GIVING UP

I’M GONNA CARRY ON

LIVING FOR LOVE

I’M LIVING FOR LOVE

NOT GONNA STOP

LOVE’S GONNA LIFT ME UP

As for my own little maelstrom of a life, at the time of this song’s release – right around the holidays – I had my own bit of family business to move beyond, so this song doubled as more than just a break-up rebound anthem. It was a clarion for anyone who’d been hurt or wronged, a way of working out the pain in a piece of pop music, the kind of therapy that Madonna has been giving me for years. The best kind.

I COULD GET CAUGHT UP IN BITTERNESS

BUT I’M NOT DWELLING ON THIS CRAZY MESS

I FOUND FREEDOM IN THE UGLY TRUTH

I DESERVE THE BEST AND IT’S NOT YOU

 

YOU’VE BROKEN MY HEART, BUT YOU CAN’T BREAK ME DOWN

NOT FALLING APART, ONCE WAS LOST NOW I’M FOUND

PICKED UP MY CROWN, PUT IT BACK ON MY HEAD

I CAN FORGIVE, BUT I WILL NEVER FORGET

The best revenge is happiness. The best way to finding peace is to put your faith in love. Not in being loved, but in loving even when it’s not returned. It’s a waste, and, worse, a source of anger, to continue to wish for people to be fair and righteous, to love you as you have loved them. It’s a certain guarantee of heartbreak to rely upon others to provide such a safe haven.

Yet in spite of this, I will love, without condition or expectation, and I will put my faith in that.

TOOK ME TO HEAVEN, LET ME FALL DOWN

NOW THAT IT’S OVER I’M GONNA CARRY ON

LIFTED ME UP AND WATCHED ME STUMBLE

AFTER THE HEARTACHE I’M GONNA CARRY ON

 

LIVING FOR LOVE,

I’M LIVING FOR LOVE

NOT GIVING UP

I’M GONNA CARRY ON

LIVING FOR LOVE

I’M LIVING FOR LOVE

NOT GONNA STOP

LOVE’S GONNA LIFT ME UP

As I watched Madonna at the Grammy Awards last winter, premiering her new song for most of the world, I felt a little better, the way Madonna always made me feel a little better. At one point she spun in a circle, tossed her hair forward and back, then led her dancers in sweetly-choreographed abandon, much the same way she bounced around to ‘Like A Virgin’ three decades ago.

The spark was still there. The girl was still inspiring. Best of all, I still needed her.

LIVING FOR LOVE,

I’M LIVING FOR LOVE

NOT GIVING UP

I’M GONNA CARRY ON

LIVING FOR LOVE

I’M LIVING FOR LOVE

NOT GONNA STOP

LOVE’S GONNA LIFT ME UP

SONG #118 – ‘Living For Love’ – Winter 2015

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