“Until I learned to love myself
I was never, ever loving anybody else”
Taken from the album Bedtime Stories
Also released on GHV2 and Celebration
US #3, UK #5, AUS #5
After the overbearing Erotica, Madonna came back in 1994 with ‘Secret’ the first single from Bedtime Stories. It was a midtempo, mostly guitar-based song, a departure from her previous sound and automatically sexier and more revealing than all of the previous album. It was slightly urban, very subtle and one of her least obvious moments of genius. ‘Secret’ is warm, seductive and retro, the perfect lead-in to one of her quietest and gentle records.
As with a lot of Madonna’s nineties work my first exposure was to the video before the song, as part of her 93/99 video collection, which as I’ve said before was a very important tenth birthday present for me. I actually used to fast forward through ‘Secret’ and ‘Take A Bow’ in order to get to the more interesting ‘Human Nature’ and ‘Bedtime Story’ videos, but as I’ve grown older the ‘Secret’ video has made more sense to me. It uses great imagery the same way ‘American Pie’ did, contrasting Madonna with “the normals”, portraying her as one of us yet elevated through the power of music.
I love the line “Happiness lies in your own hand”, and tell myself to this day that it refers to masturbation. The lyrics in ‘Secret’ seemed to be highly evolved from the lyrics on Erotica, a bit more mature and self-aware. People say all the time that Ray Of Light saved Madonna’s career, and they’re right, but ‘Secret’ played a huge part in cultivating the image and mood shift that made Ray Of Light possible.