“Madhuvan” is unlike any other Goose song. I’m not speaking about its composition or lyrical content. I am referring to its essence.
At its foundation, “Madhuvan,” has its roots in Hinduism, specifically when talking about Krishna or Krishna Consciousness. According to an interview of Rick Mitarotonda with a writer from the International Society of Krishna Consciousness News in April 2021, Madhuvan is revealed to be a name for Krishna and that in the religion, simply saying the name of God is a form of worship. Rick first got into Krishna Consciousness after moving to Colorado in 2014, according to the article. After experiencing loss in his life, Rick went down a spiritual journey that allowed him to explore Krishna Consciousness and open doors for him in order to better understand his own path in life.
Those themes of Krishna Consciousness are evident in the bridge on “Indian River,” with the lyrics “avināśi tu/tad viddhi yena sarvam idaṃ tatam/vināśam avyayasyāsya na kaścit/kartum arhati,” which comes from a passage in the Bhagavad Gita that translates to “that which pervades the entire body, know it to be indestructible. Nothing can destroy the imperishable soul.”
That beautiful passage serves as a pathway into the inspiration of Krishna Consciousness in much of Rick’s writing, and “Madhuvan” is no exception.
First premiering at Norwalk’s Factory Underground Studio on Dec. 12, 2014, according to elgoose.net, “Madhuvan” has stayed a staple in Goose’s live catalog despite only receiving a studio version on 2021’s “Shenanigans Night Club.” Known for its driving verses and almost train-like rhythm, “Madhuvan” excels at being a reliable jam vehicle for the group, as evident with the versions of the song listed below. However, after you crack through the spectacle of the instrumentation, listeners are left with lyrics that are deeply profound and touch upon Rick’s devotion to Krishna Consciousness.
The song makes reference to Bhagavatam and Dhruva, which respectively are a sacred text and individual in Hinduism. Rick made note in the previous interview that he found himself inspired by the story of Dhruva that was told to him, which eventually made its way into the lyrical content of “Madhuvan.”
“So I remember one of the devotees ended up telling me that story of Dhruva, and it was sort of, you know, a personal connection to the story. He told me the story and it really stuck with me,” Rick told the interviewer. “And it morphed into a metaphor for that song that I was working on.”
Outside of the religious context, Rick discusses the distractions and profound mysticism of existence as we try to seek out a deeper meaning to our lives.
“If I had it all/What life would leave me satisfied/All of this gold/All of this gold/It don't weigh enough to make this life whole,” Rick says in the chorus, reiterating that even if he had everything in this world, whether it be fame or riches, none of it would leave him spiritually fulfilled.
However, no matter which way you attain spiritual fulfillment, “Madhuvan” serves as a song to center oneself to the important things in life and not to lose what gives one’s life meaning beyond the physical distractions of this life.
Here are 5 versions of “Madhuvan” that are simply a cut above the rest. Do you feel like we left a version out that truly stood out? Let us know:
April 20, 2019
The Acoustic, Bridgeport, CT
The most perfect funk version of this tune also happens to be the first time it was played in that style. Though not quite as sprawling as other versions of this list, you simply can’t ask more out of this version. The swaggering pliability of Rick’s playing here is on full display, backed by a ferocious Trevor, who is making the bass sing as he phrases each note with just as much personality as the last.
Dec. 14, 2019
The Mousetrap, Indianapolis, IN
As the jam comes out of the gates from this version, anyone can tell that this is going to be a truly special version. As the band seems poised to peak in the jam around the 16 minute mark, the band takes a sharp turn into this wonderfully-weird cosmic funk zone that sees Rick and Peter have some great sonic chemistry before leaving that pocket behind for a frenzied end to the song.
Sept. 16, 2020
South Farms, Morris, CT
Mother goose! This version of “Madhuvan” came straight out of the atmosphere and destroyed South Farms. Whether it’s the “The Other One” homage during the first few minutes of the jam, Ben’s incredible precision that never tires a millisecond or Rick’s frenetic instrumentation as the jam ceremoniously descends back into the song’s structure, this version is the one you show your friends if they question how well Goose can play.
June 19, 2021
Legend Valley, Thornville, OH
The first and only “Madhuvan” sandwich on our list has to go to this gem. As the jam begins to spiral into uncharted waters, the sweeping sounds of El Goose Times’ favorite “Moby” greets listeners with open arms. After the trip through a superb “Moby,” we are launched back into a back-and-forth space opera that builds into one of the most-deserved peaks in “Madhuvan” history.
Nov. 11, 2021
Scoot Inn, Austin, TX
Coming from arguably one of the best shows off of last year’s fall tour comes one of arguably the better jams to emerge from the run. This version is incredibly patient in its approach, aiming to be a true testament to the sum of its parts. However, as the song approaches the 18 minute mark, that patience unravels to reveal a calculated frenzy that leads into a psychedelic space reminiscent of something you’d find on an album like “Axis: Bold As Love.”
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