On January 12 1988, Possessive Love, a song written by Madonna, Patrick Leonard & Jai Winding and performed by Marilyn Martin was released as the lead single from Martin’s second album for Atlantic Records, This Is Serious. Martin is perhaps best known for her chart-topping duet with Phil Collins, Separate Lives. Though Possessive Love failed to make any chart impact, Madonna’s involvement in the song has kept it from being completely forgotten.
In an interview by Breathe Cast writer Timothy Yap, Martin was asked about the circumstances surrounding the song:
I met Pat Leonard when I began the search for a producer for my second album. He’s the one who approached Madonna with the idea of writing a song for me and she graciously agreed. Pat called me one day while he was working on her Like a Prayer album and asked if I would like to come and sing backgrounds [on Cherish]. Talk about an ‘Are you kidding?’ moment! That was the only time I met her. She was impressive to say the least. Very in charge. She absolutely knows her mind and insists on her music being true to her vision. She was very focused and a tad intimidating, but that’s not surprising given her amazing success over the years. I thought it was pretty cool that before agreeing to write Possessive Love for me to sing on my album she asked Pat Leonard if I was a nice person.”
Martin’s claim that the song was written specifically for her rather than being a leftover from one of Madonna’s album sessions is likely accurate, given the fact that Winding was never involved in songwriting sessions for any of Madonna’s albums. Winding’s involvement as a musician in the Who’s That Girl Tour suggests that the song may have been written at some point during the 1987 tour.
The sentiments expressed in Possessive Love appear to align with the issues Madonna was reportedly facing in her marriage to Sean Penn at the time, with reports of their initial separation dominating the tabloids in late 1987. Madonna would revisit and further elaborate on her marital woes on the Like A Prayer album track, Til Death Do Us Part, which was written later in 1988.
On October 14 2009, Madonna appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, with a classic shot by Herb Ritts.
Inside the magazine, Madonna was asked about how she felt when she first heard Material Girl and Like A Virgin:
I liked them both because they were ironic and provocative at the same time but also unlike me. I am not a materialistic person and I certainly wasn’t a virgin, and, by the way, how can you be like a virgin? I liked the play on words, I thought they were clever. They’re so geeky, they’re cool.
When asked if she could predict whether a song would be a hit or not:
I’ve never been a good judge of what things are going to be huge or not. The songs that I think are the most retarded songs I’ve written, like Cherish and Sorry, a pretty big hit off my last album, end up being the biggest hits. Into The Groove is another song I feel retarded singing, but everybody seems to like it.
On August 26 1989, Madonna’s third single from the Like A Prayer album, Cherish, debuted at #32 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart.
Song review by Stewart Mason (AllMusic.com):
True Blue had the gimmicky quality of an early Cyndi Lauper single, like a new waver’s vague approximation of what a 1960’s girl group song might have sounded like. Cherish is a much more successful dip into the musical past, not least because the ’60s flavor is very slight, more of a mood than any kind of particular stylistic pastiche. Perfect pop touches like the flirty “ooh, ooh” backing vocals on the bridge and the dead-on introduction of a short, sharp horn section accent on the final chorus are part of what puts the song over, but the bulk of the credit belongs to Madonna’s bubbly and endearing lead vocal, which uses the helium-pitched high register of her early singles, but minus the occasional harshness of those songs. Cherish is a delight, one of many highlights on Madonna’s best album.
On August 21 1989, the music video for Cherish premiered on MTV in the U.S. The video was the directed by Madonna’s frequent collaborator and friend, photographer Herb Ritts.
While the single from the Like A Prayer album went on to become another hit single, it’s interesting to note that Madonna had previously written an entirely different song using the title Cherish. Her handwritten lyrics for the unreleased track – along with several others that have yet to surface in musical form – turned up at an auction in 2011.
On August 19 1989, Madonna’s Cherish single debuted at #37 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.
Give me faith
Give me joy, my boy
I will always cherish you
Give me faith
Give me joy, my boy
I will always cherish you
On August 1 1989, the third single from Madonna’s Like a Prayer album, Cherish, was released by Sire Records. The song was written and produced by Madonna an Patrick Leonard.
The single was released on 7″, 12″, CD and cassette single formats. The b-side featured a previously unreleased track, Supernatural.
Biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli talking about Cherish in his book, Madonna: An Intimate Biography:
“Cherish was a particular triumph for the Madonna/Patrick Leonard partnership. A delightful confection of radio-ready proportions, the song had it all—strong, positive, remarkably dysfunction-free lyrics about love, a memorable, singalong vocal melody, and a tight, pungent rhythm arrangement. It remains, quite simply, one of the best songs Madonna has ever written; sweet and happy, but by no means corny, it’s a perfectly constructed pop song which Madonna delivered beautifully, and with undeniably sassy charm. Indeed, if Cherish had been released in the Sixties, it would have most likely emanated from Detroit’s Motown or the New York song writing Mecca, the Brill Building.”