March was the month of the Material Girl’s triumphant return to Australia, 23 years after she last walked off the stage down under.
My partner and I have had the good fortune of seeing her twice last month. First, in Melbourne at her one-off, invitation only ‘Tears of a Clown’ show. Second, in Sydney at her official Rebel Heart Tour.
She had left such an impression on me, especially at her fascinating and touching Melbourne fan show, I decided to dedicate this month’s Sunday Life to the Queen of Pop.
Drink wise, this month’s cocktail choice is also inspired by Madonna. Throughout her special Melbourne show she indulged in a few Cosmopolitans on stage, to the delight of her fans, which made me rediscover this tart, fruity drop.
60ml Absolut Mandarin*
40ml cranberry juice**
10ml fresh lime juice
Method: Chill a martini glass in the freezer. Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into the martini glass.
And now for the pièce de résistance: cut a piece of orange peel, around the size of a twenty-cent coin, without bending or squeezing it. Hold the orange peel piece over the cocktail glass between your thumb and index finger, and using a match or a lighter warm it gently for 20-30 seconds, making sure it doesn’t burn, then bend the peel to release the orange oil onto the flame, allowing the oil to ignite and settle on top of the cocktail, then drop the peel gently into the drink it you wish.
* I prefer Absolut for my vodka, but you can use any good quality orange flavoured vodka in this cocktail.
** Please do not to use Ocean Spray! Try to find a good quality, organic brand of cranberry juice.
While you are enjoying your Cosmopolitan, here are a few of my favourite tunes from Madonna I am currently listening to.
‘Joan of Arc’ by Madonna
‘Joan of Arc’ is one of my favourite songs from Madonna’s Rebel Heart album. It is an epic ballad and I have always been fascinated by the story of Jeanne d’Arc.
There’s a song called “Joan of Arc” on the new album — she’s a historical figure you’ve long admired.
I’ve always been drawn to her story. More than anything, drawn to her commitment to what she believed in. In the face of death, she did not back down. And that is a theme that resonates with me. And women need female role models like that. There’s not a lot. I mean, she was burned at the stake after leading her country to victory, after defeating the English. I mean, the idea that instead of celebrating her, they called her a heretic because she was dressed like a boy, and how could this person, this one girl, be so victorious and so clever to have the strategy and knowledge to wage, and win, a war? There must be something wrong with her. OK, she’s a witch. Now we have to destroy her. And she didn’t back down, and I admire that.
But in the lyrics you say you’re not her, not yet.
Meaning, I’m not ready to be burned at the stake. Not yet. That does really require an elevated soul, you know? When you are really, really ready to die for what you believe in. I mean, obviously people like Martin Luther King Jr., they’re extremely inspiring to somebody like me. Because, obviously, he was told time and time again, “If you keep doing this, you’re going to keep getting arrested. There’s a lot of people who want to kill you.” He understood that this was his journey, this was his destiny. And it’s just that there’s not a lot of women like that.
Madonna on Making ‘Rebel Heart,’ the Age of Distraction and Joan of Arc, Rolling Stone (5 March 2015)
Unfortunately, there is no official music video for this song, but she delivered a beautiful life performance of it on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last year.
‘Time Stood Still’ by Madonna
Madonna recorded ‘Time Stood Still’ for the soundtrack of ‘The Next Best Thing,’ a movie starring Madonna and Rupert Everett. Madonna was also the executive producer on the soundtrack, and the song was written and produced by William Orbit.
The movie caused a bit of a stir at the time, and was savaged by critics, and audiences. It tells the story of a woman who decides to have a child with her gay best friend. A few years later she falls in love with a straight man, and they want to raise the little boy together, with a nasty custody battle ensuing.
Regardless of what one may think of the movie, the song is fantastic. This is another Madonna song without an official music video, and the next best thing we have is a decent fan edit of scenes from the movie, with the music laid over …
‘La Vie En Rose’ by Madonna
‘La Vie En Rose’ is of course a legendary song written, and made famous, by Édith Piaf in the 1940s.
Madonna has performed the song as part of her Rebel Heart Tour. The song had taken on a whole new meaning after the appalling terror attacks in Paris, on the night of 13 November 2015.
This performance of the song, recorded by a fan, had taken place on 14 November, in Stockholm, Sweden, the night after the attacks. This performance was dedicated to the people of Paris and France …
‘Sex’ by Madonna
This month’s book, selected to go with your Cosmopolitan, is more of a pictorial than a literary journey.
It has been selected to keep with the theme of everything Madonna for April. It is an infamous coffee table book, titled ‘Sex‘. The distinctive spiral bound, metallic cover book was released to accompany Madonna’s fifth studio album ‘Erotica’. The erotic photographs in the book were considered scandalous at the time, and the release was surrounded by outrage and media mayhem. Many thought Madonna had gone too far.
However, despite initial misgivings by the publisher, the book became a huge commercial success, selling over 150,000 copies just on its day of release, topping the New York Times Best Seller list for non-fiction. It remains the best, and fastest-selling, coffee table book of all time.
Over the past 24 years the critical reception of the book has evolved. It is now seen as a bold, post-feminist work of art, with academics considering it a defining phase not just in Madonna’s career, but in its impact on society and culture. The book remains one of the most sought-after out-of-print books of all time.
“Did I say something wrong?
Oops, I didn’t know I couldn’t talk about sex
(I must have been crazy)”
Human Nature, Bed Time Stories, Madonna (1994)