The Madonna Timeline: Song #83 – ‘Falling Free’ – Winter 2013

{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.}

When I move a certain way, I feel an ache I’ve kept at bay
A hairline break that’s taking hold, A metal that I thought was gold,
And pure so sure it struck a vein, I wanted you to feel the same,
So when you did ignite a spark, Rescue me from all this dark,
See our hearts are intertwined, Then I’m free, free of mine,
I’m falling free…

A non-traditional Madonna Timeline entry, as I have yet to make a memory that corresponds with ‘Falling Free’… or perhaps I’m making that memory now. Across the stark, barely-snowy landscape, an equally stark string of piano notes rings out. In this winter of so much discontent, I yearn to be free too. In the remnants of relationships once held so dear, in the aftermath of battles fought long and hard, I seek some sense of understanding, some reason for why, but nothing comes of it. I draw closer to Andy then, as much as I can, but even he only lets me so near.

See our hearts are intertwined,
And then I’m free, I’m free of mine.
Deep and pure our hearts align,
And then I’m free, I’m free of mine.

The song contains an almost Gaelic lilt, and suddenly I’m transported back to Ireland, to the day when the clouds parted and the rolling hills were redolent in wild, vivid, acid green. A precarious kissing of the Blarney Stone, a perilous spiral of stone stairs, and a lonely walk along a stream comprised the day. A solitary swan swam in the lake behind our little hotel – a single spot of white amid the slate and blue-gray water. Pebbles on the beach, and a long black coat billowing behind me. The other side of the ocean, half a world away.

When I raise the certain wing, And crawl beneath that growing thing,
It throws a shadow over time, And keeps yours falling next to mine.
Your days were meant to fly and do, I fall and fold mine into you,
And what you take is just enough, And what you give is what I love.
And when you lift you raise the sail, And then I’m free, free to fail.
I’m falling free…

She sings of the intertwined, the once-bound, and the newly-free. She speaks of herself, she speaks of him, she speaks of me. I think back on all the couples who were together when Andy and I first met, how I looked with wonder on them, and how, slowly, day by day, and year by year, some fell apart. What fickleness, love today. What ease, what hurt, what pain, what apathy. What clean-cut mess, what nasty cleaving.

Deep and pure our hearts align, And then I’m free, I’m free of mine
When I let loose the need to know, Then we’re both free, we’re free to go.
When I lose a certain claim that tries to know and needs to blame
Whatever river runs aground, It turns my head and washes down
The face of God that stands above pouring over Hope and Love
That all of might, and life, and limb could turn around and love again
When I let loose the need to know, Then we’re both free, free to go
I’m falling free…

No longer like a prayer, this is a prayer – an incantation – begging for salvation, for hope, for something to be set free. For something to fall. If you listen closely, if you know her voice inside and out, if you’ve heard it almost every day for the last twenty five years, you will hear a difference. Madonna’s instrument – recently ravaged by a head-cold, or maybe just the advancement, once so cruel, of fifty-four years of living, has changed ever so slightly. Deeper, raspier in sound, worn and a little frayed, it bespeaks both splendor and ruin. Every last one of us is getting older. We are all moving in that one direction. Closer to death. Closer to freedom.

At 3:36 then, the magic of William Orbit. The origin of ‘Ray of Light’, one might say her ultimate rebirth, echoed in the delicate music, moving, like she constantly does, but not quickly, not like light, but fluid like water – undulating, pulsating, ebbing like life – like waves on a distant shore. There it ends ~ without fanfare, without release, without definition ~ hanging in the air, like the quick notes of spring on the wings of a brief thaw, gone by the morning.

Deep and pure our hearts align
And then I’m free, I’m free of mine
When I let lose the need to know
Then we’re both free, we’re free to go.

 Song #83 – ‘Falling Free’ – Winter 2013

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