If Adam Silvestri channeled elements of Springsteen as Radiator King when he first graced PopMatters with “So Long (Charlie)”, now the NYC Americana artist is looking to 1970s pop-rock this side of Elton John. Centered on a wistful piano progression, Radiator King’s “Madame Marie” is a gorgeous ballad that looks back on the innocence of childhood. Shining through the understated anthem is a sweet sentiment of childlike wonder. Looking ahead through younger eyes, there’s a clean slate to be filled with one’s wildest dreams. The clear skies that Radiator King uses as his canvas effortlessly capture this feeling through sepia-tinted lenses, longing to keep that zest for life kicking into adulthood.
Radiator King tells PopMatters, “The central instrument of ‘Madame Marie’ is the piano, which is played by Shaul Eshet. We recorded this one with Don DiLego at Velvet Elk Studio in the Poconos. He had this really old upright piano from 1898 in the studio. I knew the minute I heard it that it was a perfect match for the song. It looked and sounded like it could have been in a saloon or a brothel in the wild west. It was oozing with mystique and mojo.
“‘Madame Marie’ deals with the imagination and the wonder of youth—that time in our lives when we have complete faith in possibility and the unwritten future. There are a lot of references in the song to my heroes, from authors to old blues musicians. People who I’ve always looked at with deep admiration and whose lives have been mythologized. Their spirits live in our imaginations and inspire us in profound ways.
“The song also deals with the struggle to maintain that youthful spirit as we grow older. As we age, it’s like we’re supposed to leave it behind, and if we don’t, we’re bound to get left in the dust. Music has allowed me to hold onto that feeling of childhood wonder, which is sacred, and I’m thankful because if I ever lost it, I’d be a very different person.”