Telling on “Live To Tell”


NPR aired a commentary today by Donna Freitas, religion professor at St. Michael’s College in Vermont. While I paused for the train to pass by, Freitas took a favorable view of Madonna’s cross and crown pose for “Live To Tell.” Go listen yourself if you wish, but let me offer these observations, not necessarily closely related:

– “Live To Tell” is about the only Madonna song I really really like. Ask me what she’s done since 1990 and I’ll shrug.

– I’ve heard a bit of the controversy about her imaging herself as a Christ figure on this tour. I don’t agree with the notion that a woman (or a man) putting herself on a cross is blasphemy per se. If it is, it’s at least as bad as those crucifixions reenacted by devotees in various places around the world. Freitas asks so what if she’s a woman. I’d ask the same thing.

– Or perhaps the perception of Madonna as a public sinner is a problem. Jesus died for sinners too. We are all called to carry our cross daily. Freitas suggested that Jesus would not be upset by Madonna’s stage work. I think I’d agree.

Actually, my biggest problem with Madonna’s choreography is the damage it does to music as an aural art form. What she and other pop stars have done, thanks to mtv and its clones, is to concede that hearing music isn’t enough. In a way, it’s music dumbed down. Music written for listening augmented by visuals because, presumably, we won’t sit still for closing our eyes, and listening to the interplay of voices and instruments. Pardon me, but what if I want to listen for my own interpretation of “Live to Tell;” can’t I do that?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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