Blog

The Madonna Timeline: Song #77 – ‘Best Friend’ – Spring 2012

12madbestfriend

{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.}

The Madonna Timeline is on an MDNA Deluxe kick, as the next selection veers from ‘I Fucked Up’ to ‘Best Friend’. Another stellar bonus cut, this one details the dissolution of Madonna’s marriage to Guy Ritchie, rounding out that album’s anger with revelatory lyrics of wistful regret, jittery beats, and additional ambivalence. The pain and loss is fully evident here, the darkness of divorce looms over all, and it seems that she is willing to admit that it’s a bit of both their faults.

I miss your brain, the way you think.
But I don’t miss the way you used to drink.
I miss our talks – the Universal Law
You had a way of seeing through my flaws.
It’s so confusing – I thought I met my match –
An intellectual with talent – what a catch.
You always said we’d be better off as friends,
It was inevitable that it would end.

Driving along the highway in Massachusetts, I am racing to pick up my friend Kira. She has returned to the area from Florida after her own marriage faltered. Listening to the lyrics, I thought of what it took to bring her back all this way with her children, but without her husband. No matter how clear-cut or simple some things seem, a relationship is never one of them: we have no idea, even and especially when we think we do, what really happens behind closed doors.

Your picture’s off my wall, but I’m still waitin’ for your call,
And every man that walks through that door,
Will be compared to you for ever more.
Still, I have no regrets ’cause I’ve survived the biggest test.
I cannot lie and I won’t pretend but I feel like I lost my very best friend.

While Kira pretended to be strong – and maybe it wasn’t just pretend – part of me felt that there had to be more to it. Perhaps this was her way of dealing with it, by a mixture of denial, of anger, of frustration, of fear. In many ways she seemed fine – the same, sweet Kira I had first met at John Hancock fourteen years ago, when we were both in our early twenties, before and after several heartbreaks.

I miss the countryside where we used to lay,
The smell of roses on a lovely summer day.
You made me laugh, you had a clever wit.
I miss the good times, I don’t miss all of it.
You wrote me poetry, you had a way with words.
You said you wanted more than just a pretty girl.
Maybe I challenged you a little bit too much,
We couldn’t have two drivers on the clutch.

I had met her husband, and he seemed like a nice enough guy. Quiet, like Kira, but willing to smile, if one worked at it. I didn’t pry, and I didn’t want to know, but we owe our friends the offer of listening, so I did. As the weeks passed, I would see Kira rather regularly, as we planned for the big 40th birthday celebration of our friend JoAnn. Slowly, she seemed to regain her footing, to be okay with the way things had worked out. The Spring blossomed into Summer, and after the party I didn’t get to see her as much. It wasn’t until the very first weekend of Fall that we got back together.

Your picture’s off my wall, but I’m still waitin’ for your call,
And every man that walks through that door
Will be compared to you for ever more.
Still, I have no regrets ’cause I’ve survived the biggest test.
I cannot lie and I won’t pretend but I feel like I lost my very best friend.

We weren’t supposed to meet that weekend. I’d called ahead to see if she wanted to hang out on Saturday, but she was busy so I never gave it another thought until my Friday plans got changed, and I headed into town a day early. Figuring I’d just call to see how she was doing, I asked if she might be able to hang out on Friday instead, and we agreed to meet for dinner and drinks. Some friends are so close and attuned to your moods and spirit, that the sheer sight of them sets you at ease, makes you feel a little warmer and better about the world. Kira is one of those friends for me. No matter what has gone on – and sometimes it’s a lot – she never fails in making me smile. On this evening, we needed to see each other, but I didn’t know why until dinner, when she said the divorce papers had gone through and it had happened just a few short days ago.

I thought that she’d be happier about it. Not that divorce is ever something to be happy about, it still seemed like the final sense of closure she needed. I asked the question that some might have deemed too personal: had she secretly hoped that they would get back together? It was a reasonable wish, and after ten years as a couple, and parents to a little  girl, how could it not be a possibility? She admitted that yes, over the last few months apart she had, somewhere in the back of her mind – and sometimes the forefront – wished and hoped that they might work it out, that he might move back and stay with her. The fact that he didn’t fight the papers, that he actually signed and set them into quick motion, was the last sign that it had come to an end. And Kira was, according to her own admittance, shocked that it had come through so soon.

I argued that maybe this was the best way for it to happen – the way it’s sometimes easier to just rip the band-aid off instead of slowly tearing it painfully away over a long, drawn-out period of time. Maybe enough time had passed. Maybe this was the universe making a dramatic move in order to jar her into awareness. Maybe she just needed to take a moment to mourn what happened – she never really allowed herself that sadness, had never even cried over what had been lost. I thought it had been strength, but that can last for just so long.

It’s so sad that it had to end. I lost my very best friend.
Not gonna candy-coat it and I don’t want to pretend.
I’ve put away your letters, saved the best ones that I had.
It wasn’t always perfect, but it wasn’t always bad.

We talked it over, and I offered what feeble advice I had to give, but that wasn’t why we needed each other. Sometimes you just have to see someone who understands, and who wants nothing but happiness for you. Sometimes the sharing of any pain lifts a bit from both of you, and you’re both better for it.

Still, I have no regrets ’cause I’ve survived the biggest test.
I cannot lie and I won’t pretend but I feel like I lost my very best friend.
Yet, I have no regrets, ’cause I’ve survived the biggest test.
I will not lie and I can’t pretend but I feel like I lost my very best friend.
It’s so sad that it had to end.

Song #77 – ‘Best Friend’ – Spring 2012

Back to Blog
Back to Blog