1) Your Favorite Song
The idea that we're supposed to scour through the whole catalog of all music--all sounds for that matter? What makes a song different from a sound, or set of sounds?--and cull down to one "favorite" is, well, mind-boggling and gives me agita. I think here of Donna Tartt saying in this 2002 interview, that "My favorite color is different for different things. Depends on what it is....For flowers, it's one thing, for clothes it's another."
So, favorite, how? How about "most meaningful at a meaningful nexus in my life?" Does that make sense? That seems like a long way from "favorite," but if we're talking about the stages of aesthetic development--and why shouldn't we--I'm definitely feeling a level five on this one. (Feel free to read up and then get back to me.)
Well, in this case, it's a song that gave me--at least this is my memory, plus 20 years reflection--a first inkling of how my sexuality was more than just who you sleep with. That my queerness would encompass, or rather that it could encompass, an entire set of values different from the ones I saw the status quo culture embracing. Beauty, fashion, grandeur, elegance, camp. A refinement in which the style was the substance. At the time, I wasn't very sophisticated--but I knew, I could sense, that this was sophisticated. (I can't believe I'm waxing on how Madonna is sophisticated...but hey.) Or, if it wasn't sophisticated, it was beyond my realm of understanding in a way that made me drawn to it. It was like watching a version of myself that I had never known, revealed. I saw a version of me in black and white, too. I saw a version of me moving like that, too. I saw that me as beautiful, refined, a success.
Madonna's "Blonde Ambition Tour" was broadcast on HBO that same year, and I set the VCR to record it. It's mechanism was such that it wouldn't stop during recording unless it was completely unplugged. So, in the break between "Open Your Heart" and "Causin' A Commotion" Madonna let fly a stream of "fucks" so long and punchy that my mother, either hearing this from the other room, or getting up from the couch while watching with me, I can't remember--ripped the cord from the wall!!! "You do not need to hear that," she said, sealing the deal. I was 12. I was heartbroken.
So, for the next several months, I watched the opening three songs over and over, until the tape turned fuzzy and refused to play. Eventually, I taught myself the choreography from the below video which I periodically performed both alone in the rec room and at Roller Coaster Skate World for scores of cheering girlfriends. Wow, what a queerbait, huh? I can still do most of it.
Here's a question: How does "1990 Madonna" stealing and popularizing New York ball culture reveal the inner life of a blossoming queen from the suburbs of Chattanooga, Tennessee? And the answer: That's the power of music.
So, having said all that, I give you, my favorite song, Vogue: