On September 27 2002, the theme and title-track for the twentieth film in the James Bond franchise, Die Another Day, received its world premiere on New York radio station Z100. The song had been due to hit the airwaves on October 10th, but when Z100 got their hands on the track ahead of schedule they immediately added it to their heavy rotation playlist. Other stations quickly followed suit, prompting an early but very strong debut at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and becoming the chart’s highest first-week entry of the year.
Die Another Day was written and produced by Madonna and Mirwais with string arrangement by the late, great Michel Colombier. After being introduced to Madonna through Mirwais, Colombier arranged strings for Madonna’s 2000 hit Don’t Tell Me, scored her film Swept Away and arranged the American Life tracks Nothing Fails and Easy Ride. Colombier sadly lost a brief battle with cancer in 2004, leaving behind a legacy of celebrated collaborations with the likes of Serge Gainsbourg, Prince and Joni Mitchell, to name only a few.
Madonna’s Bond theme was first performed during 2004’s Re-Invention Tour, where it became a visual showstopper with its ambitious and impressively executed tango-influenced choreography.
On August 16 2015, singer/songwriter Joe Henry shared a touching birthday tribute to his sister-in-law, Madonna:
This is the young woman I met shortly after our family’s move to Michigan in 1975 – as I entered my sophomore year of high school and, she, her senior one. Together, we were in the Thespian Society; and in that winter’s first production, we were cast as mother and son – the wife and child of Ralph Waldo Emerson – in a play about Thoreau.
She was whip-smart and short on patience; and to tell the truth, she scared me more than a little, but along with her sister Paula, her presence upon my landscape nudged open a door through which I would pass and find my life utterly and forever changed…that unusual and sprawling family becoming, years later, my own.
No one is more surprised than I by the way our lives have expanded; by the way that our journeys have diverged and become entangled. Like anyone, I can sometimes forget to see the flesh and blood/heart and mind behind the parade float that is her public persona. But then I will find myself across the kitchen table from her, sharing a martini, and be additionally shocked to recognize anew the compact, terse-yet-compassionate human at the switches.
I have told this tale before, but it bears repeating: when Elvis Presley died on this date in 1977, this upstart professed in real-time that she felt his spirit had passed out of his body and through her own in exodus.
I laughed at her then for such outrageous self-possession, at the arrogance that I assumed must allow her to declare such publicly.
Today, when there is laughter, it is the laugh of recognition I hear – and it begins somewhere high above me, where things that once seemed implausible play with wild abandon and in broad daylight.
Happy Birthday, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone.
On March 10 2016, Madonna performed the first Tears Of A Clown show at the Forum Theatre in Melbourne, Australia. Since Madonna had not performed in Australia since 1993, she decided to put on a unique show for her Australian fans. The show included some of her lesser performed songs, covers, hits and some fan favourites that were not being performed during the Rebel Heart Tour (which was going on a the same time as the Tears Of A Clown show).
Madonna wanted the show to combine music, comedy and storytelling, with a circus or clown theme in mind.
Only members of Madonna’s official fan club, Icon, were able to acquire tickets. 1500 fans attended the show.
Madonna performed the following songs:
- Send In The Clowns
- Drowned World/Substitute For Love
- X-Static Process
- Between The Bars (Elliot Smith cover)
- Nobody’s Perfect
- Easy Ride
- I’m So Stupid
- Paradise (Not For Me)
- Joan Of Arc
- Don’t Tell Me
- Mer Girl
- Take A Bow
Cameron Adams (News.com.au) had this to say about the show:
“Madonna poured much of her sadness into her intimate two-hour Tears Of A Clown show, peppering emotional renditions of her hits with cheeky jokes and banter. It’s the sort of thing you never thought you’d see a superstar do. The show was fascinating — and difficult — to watch. We’re not used to Madonna on stage doing anything less than a fully rehearsed, slick stage show.”
On January 16 2001, Don’t Tell Me was released commercially in North America as the second single from Music.
Written by Madonna, Mirwais & Joe Henry, the song was Madonna’s first collaboration with her brother-in-law, whom she had known since high school. Henry sent a demo (then titled Stop) to Madonna after his wife, Melanie, insisted that her sister would love the song. Madonna & Mirwais drastically altered the music and melody and renamed the song Don’t Tell Me. Henry released his version on his eighth studio album, Scar, in May 2001.
The maxi-single featured remixes by Thunderpuss, Timo Mass, Victor Calderone, Richard “Humpty” Vission and Tracy Young. Don’t Tell Me was the last Madonna release to be issued on cassette single in the U.S. and was also available on 2-track CD single, CD Maxi-Single (enhanced with the music video) and as a double 12″ vinyl set. In Canada, it was released only on CD maxi-single.
On November 28 2000, Madonna performed a mini-set at London’s Brixton Academy. The show was part of the Don’t Tell Me Promo Tour, which began only two months after the birth of her second child, Rocco, and consisted of a few small club dates as well as television performances and interviews to promote the second single from her Music album. Aside from the promotional aspect, Madonna also used the club shows as an opportunity to test the waters for performing live shows again following a seven-year hiatus from touring. The Brixton gig closely mirrored her set at New York’s Roseland Ballroom several weeks earlier, with one notable exception being the addition of Holiday to the UK set-list.
The full London set-list consisted of:
- Impressive Instant
- Runaway Lover
- Don’t Tell Me
- What It Feels Like For A Girl
The Brixton Academy performance was streamed live across the internet to an estimated 9 million viewers.