Celebrating my two favorite Leos today, Madonna and my sister, Rachel.
“I’m tough and I’m ambitious and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” – Madonna
"What you leave behind...catches up with you." – Rachel Brown
On the 16th of August, the best known former resident of Bay City, Michigan, will turn 60. Her career has been over 36 years strong, and currently she has more U.S. top 10 Billboard hits than any other performer. Yes, more than even Elvis or the Beatles. Her tours continue to break box office records, and she is considered an icon to Generation X women and gay men, who are both my age and the age of my sister, Rachel. You see, my sister bought her debut album in the summer of 1983, and she was the first person I ever knew who loved that woman from Bay City, Madonna.
Rachel would play that debut album of hers endlessly. When I think of that time, I can here the record player from her room..."I know you're gonna take my love and run/I know you think I'm the foolish one/I know you're gonna turn around and say goodbye" are lyrics to the song that ends side one, "I Know It', that, for some reason, stick out in my memory. It's a dynamite disc. Madonna may have gone on to make more important or critically acclaimed albums, but she never made one more honest, with a naive beauty, self-confidence and most importantly, an element of fun that was definitely lacking in Pop music from anyone of that time, or in most any other music genre as well.
Madonna speaks to the press at a news conference in Blantyre, Malawi on July 16, 2018. AP Photo/Thoko Chikondi
Of course, being her brother, I would tease her about it, especially when Rachel went through her "Madonnaquin" phase, as many young women did in the mid-1980's. "Hey Rachel! Are you gonna start spray painting foreign sports cars too? I mean, you did get that ticket for roller skating on the pier. No telling what you might do next." And yes, she did get a ticket at the age of 11 for roller skating on the Redondo Beach pier, to which she actually had to go to court over and pay a $10 fine. Welcome to the justice system. folks.
As a matter of historical note, that same original wooden pier burned down in 1988, so I gathered, for a time before an uglier concrete version was rebuilt, that no other pre-teen girl would ever have to be bullied by some horrible old cop who wants to focus on intimidating young girls instead of, you know, stopping rapists and murderers from roaming free amongst us. And I was with you and some friends in Ensenada, Baja, Mexico when this all went down, for the record, your honor...
Self-portrait, Rachel L. Brown, taken 31 July 2018. Courtesy of the artist.
Looking back, I must admit that Rachel, with her teased and colored hair, makeup, plastic bangles and dime store rhinestone jewelry may have been the cutest thing ever. Most of the articles you will read or hear about Madonna's 60th birthday will be about a great many things that matter in large-scale ways, and yes, Madonna has not just influenced Pop culture (even making the cover of Time magazine), there is great deal to be said for the characters many will type about her impact on a generation of gay men and young women, both of whom found a kindred spirit in the the artist who was a singular voice to those left out in the cold during the Reagan years and beyond.
But, the personal is political, and sometimes, a great reason to celebrate your little sister's birthday. Happy 48th birthday, today, the 10th of August, to my little sister Rachel, and to my other favorite Leo, Madonna, happy 60th later this week. Hope you both like this show, and to Rachel, hope you like the care package we sent you. Madonna, well, if you're in the neighborhood, I'll make a cake. Bring the kids. Kids love cake.
Our tracks this week: Title, Year, Source
1. Beautiful Stranger, 1999, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack
2. Bitch, I'm Madonna, 2015, Rebel Heart (Madonna with Nicki Minaj)
3. Dress You Up, 1984, Like A Virgin
4. Live to Tell, 1986, At Close Range soundtrack/True Blue
5. Gambler, 1985, Vision Quest Soundtrack
6. Music, 2000, Music
7. I Want You (with Massive Attack), 1995, Inner City Blues: the Music of Marvin Gaye
8. Into the Groove (remix), 1987, You Can Dance
9. Take A Bow, 1994, Bedtime Stories
10. I Know It, 1983, Madonna
11. Vogue, 1990, I'm Breathless: Music from and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy
1. Impressive Instant, 2000, Music
2. Everybody, 1982, single release
3. Love Don't Live Here Anymore, 1984, Like A Virgin
4. Crazy For You, 1985, Vision Quest soundtrack
5. Like A Prayer (album version), 1989, Like A Prayer
6. Bye Bye Baby, 1992, Erotica
7. Hung Up, 2005, Confessions On A Dance Floor
8. Spotlight, 1987, You Can Dance
9. Like A Virgin (live in Paris), recorded 1990/released 1991, Truth Or Dare film
10. Justify My Love, 1990, The Immaculate Collection
11. Human Nature, 1994, Bedtime Stories
11. The Power of Goodbye, 1998, Ray of Light
1. Ray of Light, 1998, Ray of Light
2. Burning Up, 1983, Madonna
3. Hollywood, 2003, American Life
4. Sorry, 2005, Confessions On A Dance Floor
5. Papa Don't Preach, 1986, True Blue
6. Sidewalk Talk, 1984, Wotupski!?! (Jellybean with Catherine Buchanan and Madonna)
7. Holiday, 1983, Madonna
8. Veni Vedi Vici, 2015, Rebel Heart Deluxe Edition (Madonna with Nas)
9. Don't Cry For Me Argentina (dance remix), 1997, single A-side, original version form the Evita soundtrack
10. I Don't Give A, 2012, MDNA (Madonna featuring Nicki Minaj)
11. Express Yourself (album version), 1989, Like A Prayer
11. More, 1990, I'm Breathless: Music from and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy
Love to you all.
Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner
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