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Burning Up

She was now puckishly purring about burning up for my love - over and over again.

Surrounded by a bumper crop of bright yellow dandelions during a late spring morning in 1983, I sat on the edge of my front lawn listening to a black and silver metallic radio. Fiddling with the giant dial tuner, a mish-moshed mix of music droned from one tinny speaker.

A few months past 12 and completing the last weeks of 6th grade, come September I’d be moving up to junior high. The thought sent fear and dread jumbled with just a tinge of thrill through my pre-pubescent body. But at that moment, I was still a big man on the elementary school campus. My class recently voted me ‘Mr. Congeniality’ and I was narrating the 6th grade play I helped write with my best friend since age 3, Michelle. We posed the question, “What will the 6th grade class of School 4 in Clifton be up to in 20 years?” Michelle fancied herself to be a top notch teacher while I saw myself as a rich, world famous dalmatian breeder. My love for spotted dogs was big, but my dreams were obviously bigger.

Back in my dalmatian lacking life, I randomly scanned through stations as one nameless song to the next emanated from my radio. I spun the dial, stopping for a moment at an aging disco tune, a current Top 40 hit or an arena rock anthem. Nothing seemed to hold my interest for too long and I quickly returned to surfing the airwaves.

A catchy dance song caught my ear and I paused to catch the tail end. As the ditty segued into an unfamiliar tune I got my fingers ready to start turning the dial again. But before I could, she began to sing about being on fire.

I immediately snapped to attention and let go of the tuner.

“What was this song,” I wondered. The simple lyrics over this strange rock infused disco beat were electrifying. “Who is this?”

I leapt to my feet. The song now had my full attention as the singer chirped on about quenching desires, pounding hearts and being down on her knees! Nothing had ever jumped off the radio before and basically beat me into submission. But, it was happening now.

I loved it.

Goosebumps ravaged my skin as the singer’s voice felt like it was penetrating every single pleasure spot on my body. A mind-blowing chill went up my spine. I turned the volume up as loud as it would go. She was now puckishly purring about burning up for my love - over and over again.

As the song ended way too soon for my liking, the announcer revealed, “That was “Burning Up” by Madonna.”

In that instant my musical landscape drastically shifted. Before “Burning Up”, I was in love with Toni Basil, the one-hit wonder behind the classic, “Mickey.” I was probably the only one on the planet who owned both her records and knew every song by heart. I dabbled in post Grease Olivia Newton-John, raspy voiced Bonnie Tyler and even a bit of Foreigner and Fleetwood Mac.

I also unapologetically grooved to “Hooked on Classics” where well known tunes by Beethoven, Mozart and Bach were given a not-so-classic disco makeover. The Chipmunks and their squeaky warbling on “Urban Chipmunk” were also high up on my musical list, as was the much more discordant singing of 70s teen idols trying to be pop stars Kristy & Jimmy McNichol. I even had all the cassettes released by “The Kids from Fame” and was preparing to sing one of their songs with Michelle directly following the class performance of the play we wrote.

But after I heard Madonna, it was like I burgeoned from a casual music consumer who dabbled in anything that caught my fancy with no rhyme, reason or direction into a fully committed connoisseur of all things Madonna in approximately 3 minutes and 44 seconds.

When “Burning Up” finished playing on that morning in late spring of 1983, I suddenly had a new purpose in life.

Her name was Madonna and she was about to change the soundtrack of my life.


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