If American Life was for the head, Confessions is for the feet. It is pure groove. It is her equivalent of a mash-up album. It takes snippets from forty years of dance music (Giorgio Moroder, Tom Tom Club, Abba, Pet Shop Boys, Stardust, the Jacksons), mixes in snatches from her own back catalog (“Like a Prayer,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Die Another Day”) and filters it all through club-cool electronics in a nonstop mix. At the helm is Stuart Price, who in addition to being the musical director on Madonna’s last two tours is an English DJ, remixer and recording artist (known as Les Rhythmes Digitales) who is equal parts Beck and Daft Punk.
Even in a form-concealing black sweat shirt, Madonna looks thin and fragile. At forty-seven, she cuts a more spartan and elegant figure than the navel-bearing, crucifix-dangling, hair-moussing Madonna who burst into t he national pop consciousness in 1983. She is now Esther, Madge, Lady Madonna with children at her feet, or, as her staff calls her, simply M.
“Do you want to see where the bone broke?” Madonna asks as we talk about her horse tumble.
She pulls her sweat shirt aside and proudly displays the battle scar: a collarbone that, at its midsection, disconnects and juts up into the skin.
“She’s broken hers, too,” Madonna says, gesturing to Shavawn, her former nanny and current stylist. Shavawn is helping her massage the bone with some sort of vibrating machine that Madonna says has helped it heal faster. “She’s the person who made me get on the polo horse.”
“I didn’t make her,” Shavawn protests. “She did,” Madonna insists. “It’s her fault.”
“I didn’t,” Shavawn repeats.
“Because she was the person who instigated it, she had to be my caretaker,” Madonna continues. “She slept in the room next to me the whole time.”
“You’re guilting her out,” 1 protest in Shavawn’s defense. Even though Shavawn is laughing, inside she must feel bad. Who wants to be responsible for breaking their boss’s bones? That is, assuming they like their boss, which Shavawn clearly does.
“I don’t have to,” Madonna says. “She guilted herself out.”
Suddenly, Madonna sounds a lot like my Jewish mother.
It is at this point that I notice the carryon bags that both Madonna and her manager have brought on the airplane – they are both filled with popcorn. I make a note to ask about it later, when we’re not on the subject of medical emergencies.
Despite being taken to the hospital, Madonna says that the day after the accident, she decided to take a helicopter to Paris for her birthday. Hopped up on morphine, she felt little pain.
“I’m a lot of fun on morphine,” Madonna says with a laugh. “At least I think 1 am.” She pauses and looks at Shavawn for confirmation. “But I’m not fun on Vicodin.”
Her manager, Angela Becker, who is also sitting On the plane along with Madonna’s hair and makeup team, clarifies. “Do you know the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?” she asks. “I’ve never seen a transformation like that in my entire life.”
“I only tried Vicodin once,” Madonna says. “I was in a lot of pain, and everyone kept telling me to try Vicodin. But they kept saying. ‘Be careful. It’s so amazing. You’re going lo get addicted.’ So I called five people to get advice before I took it, and they all told me 1 was going to love it.”
“She went on a walk with me,” Shavawn blurts, as she packs up the bone machine. “And it was really scary.”
“Drugs have a weird effect on me,” Madonna continues. “They do the opposite with me. I just, chewed the entire inside of my mouth. 1 bitched at everybody. And I was in more pain. It was the worst experience of my life. So I’m happy to say that none of my pharmaceuticals – and I had a plethora of them given to me -influenced me.”