The Madonna Timeline: Song #96 – ‘I Don’t Give A…’ – Summer 2012

{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.}

While it’s one of the weaker cuts on the otherwise-brilliant ‘MDNA’ album (Review #1 and #2), ‘I Don’t Give A…’ is also one of Madonna’s most defiant fuck-off songs to date, brutally referencing her role as ex-wife and single mother, along with all the other things that go into making Madonna the icon she is.

Wake up ex-wife, this is your life
Children on your own, planning on the telephone
Messengers, manager, no time for a manicure
Working out, shake my ass, I know how to multi-task…

In an exhausting list of all that comprises her life, she ticks off the mundane and the meaningful, and after thirty-plus years of doing this – and doing it her way – you have to give her credit. The song speaks to defiance and courage, doing what you’re going to do no matter what, no matter how many people tell you not to do it, and following your heart in spite of a world of doubters and naysayers. I know that feeling – we all do on some level – but only a few of us fight through to the end, to find justice and the realization that we were right all along.

I tried to be a good girl, I tried to be your wife
Diminished myself, and I swallowed my light
I tried to become all that you expect of me
And if it was a failure, I don’t give a…

The song itself borders on a bit of a rap. Whenever Madonna goes rap-lite, it’s a crap shoot. It can work brilliantly (‘Vogue’ or ‘Mother and Father’) or it can go down dismally (‘American Life’). This is somewhere between the two, but she doesn’t embarrass herself, even when chased by Nicki Minaj (who gets the epic final line).

Drawbacks aside, check out the phenomenal finale to this song. There are no words (literally) as the music builds to its climax. It was most effectively staged in the MDNA Tour when, after chucking her guitar and disappearing for a moment, she rises atop a single platform. A red cross glows above her, and as the music builds, she goes higher and higher, prone but defiant, down but going up, and in the end she smashes it all to bits, along with all the judgment and stifling preconceptions that have dogged her over the years.

I’m gonna be okay, I don’t care what the people say
I’m gonna be all right, gonna live fast and I’m gonna live right.

There’s only one queen, and that’s Madonna, bitch. 
Song #96 – ‘I Don’t Give A…’ – Summer 2012
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