Today in Madonna History: January 20, 1988

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On January 20 1988, Madonna’s You Can Dance remix album was certified platinum in the USA for sales of 1,000,000 copies.

Patrick Leonard had this to say about working on the album:

“Remixing is a form of secondary creativity. Dance music elevates the DJ and the mixer to being almost on a level with the musician. In my opinion this is false. Manipulation of pre-recorded sound sources may be creative in a secondary sense, and may be valid in its own field, but it is pseudo musicianship. That’s why we tried to have a fresh approach to the songs for You Can Dance, as if we were developing and composing them for the first time.

Today in Madonna History: January 12, 1988

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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.

Today in Madonna History: January 9, 1988

On January 9 1988, Madonna’s hit single, Causing A Commotion (from the Who’s That Girl soundtrack) enjoyed it’s final week on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (at position #98 after 18 weeks on the chart).

Today in Madonna History: December 28, 1988

On December 28 1988, Madonna filed assault charges against Sean Penn at the sheriff’s office in Malibu, California.

Versions of what happened on that date include:

  • Sean scaled the wall surrounding their Malibu home and started a quarrel with Madonna in their bedroom
  • Madonna threatened to leave the house
  • Sean attempted to tie Madonna to a chair with the cord from a lamp, but she fled the bedroom
  • Sean chased Madonna into living room and then tied her to a chair using twine
  • Sean threatened to cut off her hair
  • The police report indicates that Sean was “drinking liquor straight from the bottle” and that the abuse went on for several hours, according to Madonna
  • Madonna was smacked several times while bound to the chair
  • Sean eventually untied Madonna and she fled the house in her car and drove to the sheriff’s office

When she arrived at the sheriff’s office, Lieutenant Bill McSweeny is quoted as saying, “I hardly recognized her as Madonna. She was weeping, her lip was bleeding and she had obviously been struck.”

Sean was charged with inflicting “corporal injury and traumatic conditions” on Madonna as well as committing “battery”.

Madonna filed for divorce a few days later and withdrew the assault charges against Sean.

On December 17 2015, Madonna made this statement about the above mentioned rumours/speculation:

“I am aware of the allegations that have surfaced over the years accusing Sean of incidents of physical assault and abuse against me, which purportedly resulted in Sean’s arrest for domestic assault and battery against me. Sean has never struck me, ‘tied me up,’ or physically assaulted me, and any report to the contrary is completely outrageous, malicious, reckless and false.”

So .. according to Madonna in 2015, these stories are false. But, if you listen to Till Death Do Us Part and piece the story together bit-by-bit — you might think she’s re-writing history to save a long-time friend and life-long love. Either way, it’s her decision ..

Till Death Do Us Part:

Our luck is running out of time
You’re not in love with me anymore
I wish that it would change, but it won’t, if you don’t
Our luck is running out of time
You’re not in love with me anymore
I wish that it would change, but it won’t
‘Cause you don’t love me no more

You need so much but not from me
Turn your back in my hour of need
Something’s wrong but you pretend you don’t see
I think I interrupt your life
When you laugh it cuts me just like a knife
I’m not your friend, I’m just your little wife

They never laugh, not like before
She takes the keys, he breaks the door
She cannot stay here anymore
He’s not in love with her anymore

The bruises they will fade away
You hit so hard with the things you say
I will not stay to watch your hate as it grows
You’re not in love with someone else
You don’t even love yourself
Still I wish you’d ask me not to go

He takes a drink, she goes inside
He starts to scream, the vases fly
He wishes that she wouldn’t cry
He’s not in move with her anymore

He makes demands, she draws the line
He starts the fight, she starts the lie
But what is truth when something dies
He’s not in love with her anymore

You’re not in love with someone else
You don’t even love yourself
Still I wish you’d ask me not to go

She’s had enough, she says the end
But she’ll come back, she knows it then
A chance to start it all again
Till death do us part

Today in Madonna History: October 5, 1988

On October 5 1988, the live home video release capturing Madonna’s 1987 Who’s That Girl World Tour, Ciao Italia: Live From Italy, was certified Platinum by the RIAA for shipment of over 100,000 units in the U.S.

Today in Madonna History: September 26, 1988

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On September 26 1988, Madonna began recording the Like A Prayer album in Los Angeles, California with collaborators Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray.

Madonna had begun writing for the album during down time of her Broadway run in David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow, for which she gave her final performance in late August.

With her marriage to Sean Penn on the rocks, Madonna found herself at a personal and creative crossroads, with plenty to express.

Today in Madonna History: April 25, 1988

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On April 25 1988, Spotlight was released as a single by Warner-Pioneer. Issued exclusively in Japan, it was the only commercial single release from the remix album You Can Dance. The song was written by Curtis Hudson, Madonna and Stephen Bray and was produced by Stephen Bray. Madonna wasn’t given a co-producer’s credit on the track – odd considering it was a leftover from the True Blue album sessions, for which she co-produced every song. The track was remixed by John “Jellybean” Benitez for its inclusion on You Can Dance.

In a 2012 interview with blogcritics.com writer Justin Kantor, Curtis Hudson recalled the circumstances surrounding the creation and release of Spotlight:

“During the time right after Holiday, when we’d go to her place and write, I presented Spotlight. I gave her a complete song, Spotlight. I had actually written it in case Warner Bros. asked her for another Holiday. She said she loved it and felt spiritual about it. But she didn’t use it or contact me again about it. It sort of popped up out of nowhere when she was getting ready to do You Can Dance. Her lawyer contacted our manager and said we needed to talk. We went over and met with him. She and Stephen Bray had already done the song; but I hadn’t even heard the version they had done.They took the demo I had given her and worked it into a different song. They gave me credit since I had the original song copyrighted. I would’ve collaborated and made changes. But I was told, ‘Well, she’s too busy. She’s overseas doing a movie.’ I was okay with it, though, because they gave me credit. But the original song had a certain magic, and the changes took that essence away. The original Spotlight was another Holiday—the rhythm, the basic groove. I think they were trying to get away from that sound. Sometimes artists don’t want their sound to be identified with specific writers.”

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