'If you're going to sample anyone, sample ABBA,' our Lady of Pop once said.
Well, if you're going to (re)write the definitive A-Z on the woman who has done it all then make sure you're a super fan, meticulous about your research and a walking, talking, blogging authority on the woman. Enter Matthew Rettenmund, author, editor and one of the holy grails of Madonna fandom.
While living in London in the nineties I remember one of my favourite haunts was Tower Records. Yes, I know! I'm so old that I've actually stepped foot in a living, breathing record store that still had a fair amount of vinyl in it. I had a friend who worked at one of the Tower stores. She had this thing about stealing toilet paper from where I lived at the time but I forgave her because she has one of those Tower employee badges that hung around her neck like she was a roadie or a VIP. Anyway, I'd stop in and say hi regularly and rummage through the store for hours on end.
And thank God I did because even though I was backpacking (I know! I'm so old that I was once a young, nineties backpacker)I was determined to pick up a copy of Matt's tome Encyclopedia Madonnica that I stumbled across during one of my rummages. It was the nineties, so it was an A-Z of every conceivable thing, person or theme that was connected to M right up until her Bedtime Stories album. I snapped up a copy of that book and lugged it around with me in my backpack until I made it all the way back to Australia. Matt knew his shit. And this was pre-internet shit (I know) so imagine how much time and travel went into researching it.
Since then of course, the world has changed, the Internet has put pretty much everything out there (and usually without context) and M has racked up another twenty uneven years in the business. That means for a lot of misinformation to duck and weave through and a lot of stuff that has to be reconsidered because time is both a friend and foe to pop music.
Writing a definitive tome on anyone is hard enough but when you're doing it under all those circumstances, well, ouch. Has to be a labour of love.
So onto the Wishlist goes the new Encyclopedia Madonnica 2.0 because M's career has been constantly fascinating and Matt's effort deserves some sitting up and paying attention to. I've got a feeling that EM2.0 will at least temporarily, become the new reference tool in our house. I'm gonna give my excellent googling skills a bit of a rest for a bit.
Incidentally it's not technically a Madonna house that I live in. Even though I consider any house that I live in to be one. My partner is not an M fan. Quite the opposite really. Yes, like pretty much everyone he loves Borderline and a lot of her early stuff. But these days he just raises an eyebrow at both me and the M news that filters through. I think there was a bit of surprise on his part when he realised that Living For Love and ghosttown were perhaps not the radio hits that they seemed to be at my place. (And heartbreak city). I don't know if he thought it was just the radio that I was listening to but let's just say that in our 80 square metre apartment M scored at least two No.1 hits from Rebel Heart and he was at a loss as to why no one else seemed to be able to hum along to them.
Anyhow, I'm digressing. Visit Matt's post for more info about the book. I'm off to play the ageist card.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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