Madonna Covers Elliott Smith’s “Between The Bars” For SecretProjectRevolution: Watch

Sam Lansky | September 25, 2013 - 1:18 pm

Well! Madonna has a secret project about revolution titled SecretProjectRevolution (because if ARTPOP has taught us nothing, it’s that literalism is the new subtlety), and its aims are multifaceted: Created by Madge herself with help from VICE and director Steven Klein, it takes the form of a 17-minute short film which works to show Madonna’s “creative commitment to inspire change in the world through artistic expression” and kick off Art For Freedom, which is described as “an online global initiative to further freedom of expression… to respond, address and protest persecution around the world.”

She continues: “I hope my film and other submissions to Art For Freedom will be a call-to-action and give people a place to voice their own creative expression to help fight oppression, intolerance and complacency.” So there’s that. 

Last night at the Gagosian Gallery in New York City, she promoted the project by performing a cover of the late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith’s “Between The Bars,” a haunting song about the emotional torment of alcoholism (which sees addiction through the lens of a kind of general imprisonment). In Madonna’s hands, though, it’s been literalized (hey!)  to be about actual imprisonment (as evidenced by the guards dragging her on stage), so also maybe Pussy Riotand LGBT discrimination in Russia and international censorship and the other stuff she talks about? I’m not totally sure.

It’s one of those things that makes you feel like she missed the mark or misunderstood the meaning of the song by this overly generous application of its message, but also like that doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, it’s Madonna. What are we going to do — tell her she’s not allowed to interpret the song the way she wants? It’s Madonna, for God’s sake. She looks and sounds great. All hail the Queen.

Watch her performance up top.