where is the cerebral jester?

where is the cerebral jester?
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Thursday, October 25, 2007

happy 13th birthday bedtime stories!

definitely not my favourite madonna album but it's still part of her career and the events that took place around it are gems..

i do remember taking the day off work to go into manhattan to get the album the day it came out and i actually waited until i got home to listen to it...i had just gotten new colored contacts (green...silly though cause my eyes are hazel hehe) and was beginning to go through my freak phase...dressing wild and coloring my hair (when i had it) all different colors. i had just turned 18 earlier that year

my fondest memory of the cd is the opening bleeps of survival and how i thought she sounded like an angel throughout most of the songs. i used to love the transition from sanctuary to bedtime story...sanctuary remaining my favourite track from that album

i also would have preferred either Let Down Your Guard being on the album or replacing the god awful but annoyingly catchy Don't Stop

i remember going to the Pajama Party at Webster Hall with the unveling of the then mind blowingly state of the art video for 'bedtime story' and me and my friend Pedro taking the PATH train (i grew up in NJ) dressed in our pajamas with teddy bears in our hands...boy were we harrassed!
i remember her interview with 'advocate' magazine where she exclaimed to much negative gay press "i'm not a lesbian".

It was the weekend before or after my birthday and i had a pajama party at my apartment in new brunswick...posting original stories and poetry about sex on the walls for people to read (my first little showing eheh)

this gorgeous photo was supposed to be used as the album cover but was replaced with the telemundo star upside down shot that was used instead. i think warner thought this one was too dark..but i think it speaks for the melancholy sounds the album evokes...too bad

here's the herbie hancock track that madonna used a sample from to create the surreal track 'sanctuary', my favourite track off the album

herbie hancock - watermelon man
and here is the walt whitman poem that she added to the song in spoken parts throughout


NOW I make a leaf of Voices--for I have found nothing mightier than
they are,
And I have found that no word spoken, but is beautiful, in its place.

O what is it in me that makes me tremble so at voices?
Surely, whoever speaks to me in the right voice, him or her I shall
As the water follows the moon, silently, with fluid steps, anywhere
around the globe.

All waits for the right voices;
Where is the practis'd and perfect organ? Where is the develop'd
For I see every word utter'd thence, has deeper, sweeter, new sounds,
impossible on less terms.

I see brains and lips closed--tympans and temples unstruck,
Until that comes which has the quality to strike and to unclose,
Until that comes which has the quality to bring forth what lies
slumbering, forever ready, in all words.

and here's a rough mix of a b-side to 'secret' that i really wish was on the album instead of the silly 'don't stop'
madonna - let down your guard (rough mix)

Bedtime Stories

hen Madonna declared, "Only the one who inflicts the pain can take it away," on 1992's "Erotica," she wasn't kidding. Following the funk of the album and her notorious Sex book, Madonna provided the creamy balm of Bedtime Stories, a fluffy-pillowed concept album that unfolds like a musical fairy-tale. The album's first single, "Secret," is perhaps the most naked performance of her career. Acoustic guitars, expertly sweetened vocals and producer Dallas Austin's signature R&B beats soulfully transport the listener into Madonna's troubled yet soothing world. For years, Madonna spoke in metaphors, fantasies and blatant shock tactics, but the performer indignantly struck back at her critics on "Human Nature." She didn't just hold up a mirror, she became the mirror: "Oops, I didn't know I couldn't talk about sex/I musta been crazy...I didn't know I couldn't talk about you." But whether it's the poetic ballad "Love Tried To Welcome Me," which was inspired by a stripper Madonna met in a club, or the enchanting "Sanctuary," in which she quotes Walt Whitman's "Vocalism," Madonna seemed more interested in literature and human psychology than sexual biology. The album's mix of sorrow and romance (she compares rejection to an aphrodisiac on "Forbidden Love" and equates death and desire on "Sanctuary") exposes a woman who might have been in need of some serious therapy. Despite the album's multiple producers and genre jerkiness, it's this theme of yearning that holds it all together. Working with superstar producers is a rarity for the singer, so Babyface, who penned and produced "Take A Bow," was in scarce company. The ballad is at once syrupy and bittersweet, calling on the words of one William Shakespeare to help recount the tale's dramatic conclusion: "All the world is a stage/And everyone has their part...But how was I to know you'd break my heart?" "Take A Bow" became Madonna's longest-running chart-topper, but it's the Björk-penned "Bedtime Story," perhaps the single with the most unfulfilled hit potential in Madonna's 20-year career, that could have been the next "Vogue." "Let's get unconscious, honey," she sings hypnotically over pulsating beats and electronic gurgles courtesy of Nellee Hooper and Marius DeVries. The song was the germ that would later inspire Madonna to seek out and conquer electronica with the likes of William Orbit and Mirwais.

Sal Cinquemani
© slant magazine, 2003.



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