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The Madonna Timeline: Song #124 – ‘Spotlight’ – 1988

{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.}

You can dance.

For inspiration.

Such was the mantra for Madonna’s first remix record, ‘You Can Dance.’ It came at her white-hot 80’s platinum crest, and for an album half-filled with dub versions it did relatively well, even without a single. The lone new song ‘Spotlight’ should have been given the single and video treatment, as it could have better bridged the gap between the nefarious ‘Who’s That Girl’ period and the amazing ‘Like A Prayer’ majesty. Instead, this throwaway track (reportedly from the ‘True Blue’ sessions) is an 80’s time-capsule with its synthesized everything and Madonna’s full-throated delivery.

SPOTLIGHT, SHINE BRIGHT

TONIGHT, SPOTLIGHT…

There’s nothing ground-breaking here, though it does mark Madonna’s first reference to the spotlight (one that, oddly enough, wouldn’t rear its now-ubiquitous head until she started examining her own fame in tracks like ‘Human Nature,’ ‘Survival,’ ‘Drowned World,’ ‘How High,’ ‘American Life,’ ‘Hollywood,’ ‘I’m Addicted,’ ‘Joan of Arc’ and ‘Rebel Heart.’)

NO ONE KNOWS YOU BETTER THAN YOU KNOW YOURSELF

DO THE THINKG YOU WANT, DON’T WAIT FOR SOMEONE ELSE

LIFE IS JUST A PARTY, THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

IT;S YORU TURN TO SHINE, BABY LET YOURSELF GO.

Carefree days of childhood, when dreams of fame and fortune actually seemed possible, all within (far) reach. I didn’t know how or when, but one day I knew that spotlight would shine on me. Whether or not I’d be ready, accepting, or appreciative of it was also unknown. But the possibility was there, and this song was very much an inspiration.

EVERYBODY IS A STAR

EVERYONE IS SPECIAL IN THEIR OWN WAY

SO YOU SET YOUR GOALS HIGH AND GO FAR

DON’T PUT OFF TOMORROW WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY…

It hasn’t weathered the passing of time very well, but for an 80’s trifle it reminds of a more simple period, when all was neon and bangles and 80’s glory. It was gaudy and garish, and, much like the ‘You Can Dance’ artwork, more than a little cheesy. It wasn’t the prettiest time, but it was flashy. More than that, it was the background to my childhood. Good or bad, that was the era that informed my view of the world, and my place in it.

SPOTLIGHT, OPEN UP YOUR EYES AND SEE

SPOTLIGHT, SHINING THERE FOR YOU ME

SPOTLIGHT, THIS WORLD IS YOURS AND MINE

SPOTLIGHT, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO SHINE.

As Patrick Bateman prowled the streets of New York snorting coke and fucking hookers, as Wall Street boomed and busted, and the coldness of an imagined war loomed and darkened the steps in the distance, we grew up. Yet in my bedroom, with the scarlet lining of the cassette tape and Madonna intoning me to step into the light, all was wondrous and rosy and limitless imagined stardom.

DON’T STAND IN THE CORNER WAITING FOR THE CHANCE

MAKE YOUR OWN MUSIC, START YOUR OWN DANCE

WHEN YOU FEEL THE RHYTHM, I’LL BE BY YOUR SIDE

NOW YOU HAVE THE POWER, BABY, LOVE IS ON YOUR SIDE.

Caught between the well-traveled world of my brother – a realm of sports and easy friendships and carelessness to all attire – and the fantastical vision of Madonna – a realm of glamour and power and beauty, clearly I was siding with my main muse. In her music and her attitude, she offered a fun and sexy and confident manifestation of the age-old belief that dreams really do come true – even if no one else believed in you. That was a lesson I needed more than anything, and it was something I’d have to go through in my own way.

EVERYBODY WANTS TO SHINE

DON’T STAND IN THE SIDELINE, STEP INTO THE LIGHT

BUT IT’S GOT TO COME FROM INSIDE

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART, AND STEP INTO THE SPOTLIGHT

EVERYBODY IS A STAR,

YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE

THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO SHINE

IT’S GOT TO COME FROM YOUR HEART…

SONG #124 – ‘Spotlight’ – 1988

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