Oh holy crap. I am OLD. This is how I felt the minute my darling little A popped the title question last week. Seriously? Who is Madonna? C’mon, how is this possible? She’s an icon. Everyone on the planet knows who she is, right? And then, duh, it totally hit me. Of course my daughter has no freakin’ clue who Madonna is! Or Cindy Lauper or Boy George or Wham or Michael Jackson or any other pop artist from my era. My adorable children were born in 2006 and 2008. Hence, their only reference for “pop star” is Rihanna, Katy Perry, Kesha (ick) Brit Brit and Gaga. And of course thanks to that insidiously popular tune in constant rotation right now, they have a new obsession with Selena Gomez (double ick!) But, alas, this is probably what our mothers thought when we started singing “Material World” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” in the back of the old Buick station wagon during our childhoods.
The whole question arose because I happened to be playing a cd in the car last week from a friend’s 80′s-themed birthday party a few years back. The disc had gone missing for quite some time and then after we did a major car cleaning, we discovered the cd lodged under the passenger seat. I had been flipping through the various songs while the girls were chatting about something in the backseat when “Crazy For You” came on. A stopped talking and asked who was singing. “Mommy, who is this? She sounds like a baby.” Ha! It’s so true. Poor Madonna. Her voice was pretty rough on the ears those first few years, as she could barely carry a tune without sounding like some cartoonish Betty Boop when singing. She has definitely learned to hone her vocals over the years and sounds much better these days. But the song was the best and we didn’t care what she sounded like. We loved it and we loved everything about her! She was a true original. I remember sneaking into my mom’s dresser around 3rd or 4th grade and cutting up a pair of her stockings so I could make those awesome fish-net like gloves Madonna always adorned herself with. It may have appeared slutty to our parents at the time, but at least it showed creativity and imagination, not to mention that’s practically conservative by today’s pop tart standards.
And so, because the opportunity presented itself, I decided to devote the rest of the week to introducing my children to the “oldies.” Yes, poops, sad to admit, but Madonna and company are in fact oldies to our children’s generation. Just as we suffered through Carol King, Loggins & Messina, Johnny Mathis, Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons and every Motown tune known to man, it was now my turn to play the oldie but goodies for my girls. Since A seemed to take a liking to Madonna more than any other artist on the 80′s mix, I decided just to stick with her catalog alone. Miraculously, I found the Immaculate Collection in a bin in the garage and started playing it for them the next morning on the way to school. I was flipping through various tracks but D and A were not into it at all. They kept saying “next” or “nope” or “not that one.” I was feeling discouraged. Had my grand plan to teach them about PoopieMommy’s pop classics failed before it even got off the ground? And then…jackpot! A hears that shimmery, synthesized opening to “Lucky Star” and says, “ohhh Mommy, I like this one! Keep this one on!” Love it. “Lucky Star” is perhaps the most sacharine of all her tunes and is the perfect representation of why we all fell in love with Madonna in the first place. There’s no depth to the lyric or quality musicianship on display. Give me a break. We didn’t like Madonna back in the day because her music was intellectually challenging or avant guarde. She wasn’t exactly the Radiohead of our generation. Please. Nope, we loved her because she sang poppy pop songs that were infectious and fun to sing a long to and made us dance and smile. And now, over twenty years later (yes, it’s been that long poops) I was happy to see my girls enjoying it as well. I’m proud to report that they also enjoy “La Isla Bonita,” (far superior to Gaga’s rip-off “Alejandro”) “Vogue”, Papa Don’t Preach (though they have no clue what it’s about) Into The Groove (my personal fave) and the classic “Borderline.”
It’s so funny how life creeps up on you. It really did a number on ole poops here to think that the music from my youth was now “oldies” to my kids. My initial reaction was to feel depressed and old. How could this much time have passed? How is it possible that one minute I’m racing home from Streetside Records (local poops, do you remember that store at the mall?) and popping the Like A Virgin tape into my stereo and now here I am driving my own kids to preschool and talking to them about Madonna as if she’s some relic from the ancient past. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to realize I was looking at this all wrong. As with so many of these poopie tales I share, my kids were the ones who made me see how cool this was because they started asking me so many questions about Madonna. What does she look like? What color is her hair? Did you go see her in a show? Does Daddy like her? Can you show us pictures when we get home?
All of their inquiries incited a fun conversation about a new topic and made them see me in a whole new way. I started explaining how just like they love dancing around the house in rock star outfits to “Firework” and “Bad Romance,” so did Mommy and Aunt Mimi to Madonna. It’s not depressing, it’s awesome to see things come full circle. I love that my daughters are creating the same memories that I look back on fondly with my own sister. I have such vivid pictures in my head of she and I making up dances to Tony Basil’s “Mickey” and Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield.” I can’t wait to introduce them to more music from my day and share the “oldies” with them. It’s given all of us something new and fun to talk about when we’re driving in the car and takes me back to a time that I love and cherish. Listening to music is a very visceral experience and conjures-up all kinds of emotions and memories. I sincerely hope that when the girls reach my age and have kids of their own, they will play Katy Perry for them and remember with fondness those mornings on the way to school when Mommy taught them about Madonna. And for that, poopies, I will definitely thank my “lucky stars.”