Glossary entry for
Debate is never-ending on the meaning (and the identity) of Madame George. Rumor has it that
the song was originally titled "Madame Joy", and the way that Van sings it, it could be heard
According to the liner notes from Bang
"Madame George" is a song about saying goodbye to one's youthful friends
and the old scene - it's a song about outgrowing a place and moving on.
The lyric describes a party full of laughing, rowdy people. The singer,
who finds himself no longer feeling like one of the gang, looks around for
the last time and then slips out into the night to catch a train that will
take him away. As he moves toward the station, he hears the party growing
softer behind him...
Lester Bangs talks a bit about Madame George in his
classic review of Astral Weeks, while Gerald Dawe includes
an appreciation of "Madame George" in his 1998
book The Rest Is History.
Some listeners have always maintained that Madame George is a transvestite,
owing to her name and to the line about "playing dominoes in drag." In the
early '70s, Rolling Stone asked Van if Madame George was a drag queen and
Van said absolutely not. More than ten years later he told Musician,
"Madame George was about six or seven different people who probably
couldn't find themselves in there if they tried."..."
As a footnote, Irish singer Sinead
O'Connor pays a tribute of sorts to Madame George,
with a reference in the lyrics to her song "Black Boys On Mopeds" on the album
I do not want what I haven't got:
England's not the mythical land of Madame George and roses
It's the home of police who kill blacks boys on mopeds
Van references in:
Part of the van-the-man.info unofficial website