Today in Madonna History: December 30, 1989

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On December 30 1989, Dear Jessie peaked at number-five on the UK singles chart. The track was released as the fourth single from Like A Prayer in Europe (with the exception of France which instead opted to service the North American/Japanese fourth single, Oh Father) and as the fifth single in Australia.

Dear Jessie was written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard and was inspired by Leonard’s young daughter, Jessie, with whom Madonna had developed a special connection.

The psychedelia-infused reflection on childhood fantasy and innocence was particularly poignant within the context of the Like A Prayer album’s sequencing, with its segue into Oh Father offering a stark musical and emotional contrast that is perhaps one of the most effective in Madonna’s body of work.

Today in Madonna History: December 1, 1963

On December 1 1963, Madonna’s Mother, Madonna Fortin Ciccone died of breast cancer at the age of 30 in Pontiac, Michigan. Madonna was born in Bay City Michigan on July 11 1933 to Willard William Fortin and Elise Mae Fortin.

Madonna Fortin married Silvio Ciccone on July 2 1955 in Bay City, Michigan. Together, Madonna and Silvio had six children: Anthony, Martin, Madonna, Paula, Christopher and Melanie.

These are the lyrics for Promise To Try, written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard for the Like A Prayer album:

Little girl don’t you forget her face
Laughing away your tears
When she was the one who felt all the pain
Little girl never forget her eyes
Keep them alive inside
I promise to try, it’s not the same
Keep your head held high, ride like the wind
Never look behind, life isn’t fair
That’s what you said, so I try not to care
Little girl don’t run away so fast
I think you forgot to kiss, kiss her goodbye
Will she see me cry when I stumble and fall
Does she hear my voice in the night when I call
Wipe away all your tears, it’s gonna be all right
I fought to be so strong, I guess you knew
I was afraid you’d go away, too
Little girl you’ve got to forget the past
And learn to forgive me
I promise to try, but it feels like a lie
Don’t let memory play games with your mind
She’s a faded smile frozen in time
I’m still hanging on, but I’m doing it wrong
Can’t kiss her goodbye, but I promise to try

Today in Madonna History: April 11, 1990

On April 11 1990, the Keep It Together single was certified gold for sales of 500,000 units in the USA.

Written and produced by Madonna and Stephen Bray, the main inspiration behind Keep It Together was Madonna’s relationship with her family—whom she dearly missed after her divorce from actor Sean Penn.

Keep It Together became the last Madonna single release to feature a collaboration with Bray—a partnership that had begun romantically when Madonna & Stephen were college students at the University of Michigan. Madonna later persuaded Bray to join her in New York where he became the drummer for her band, Emmy. After briefly falling out over Madonna’s decision to work with more established producers after signing to Sire Records in 1982, the pair quickly made amends and went on to write and produce some of Madonna’s most memorable 80’s hits.

A final collaboration between Madonna & Bray, Get Over, was reworked by Madonna and Shep Pettibone for possible inclusion as one of the new tracks on The Immaculate Collection, but was instead given to Warner Bros artist Nick Scotti to record in 1991. Although Madonna’s background vocals are featured prominently in Scotti’s versions of the song, a full Madonna vocal version has yet to surface.

Today in Madonna History: December 16, 1989

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On December 16 1989, Dear Jessie debuted at #9 on the UK Singles Chart.

The single would climb to its peak position of #5 on December 30th, where it remained for three weeks before beginning its descent.

Today in Madonna History: August 26, 1989

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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.

Today in Madonna History: August 21, 1989

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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.

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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.

Today in Madonna History: July 22, 1989

 

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On July 22 1989, Madonna’s Express Yourself reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. Express Yourself was the first song that Madonna and producer Stephen Bray collaborated on for the Like a Prayer album.

“The message of the song is that people should always say what it is they want. The reason relationships don’t work is because they are afraid. That’s been my problem in all my relationships. I’m sure people see me as an outspoken person, and for the most part, if I want something I ask for it. But sometimes you feel that if you ask for too much or ask for the wrong thing from someone you care about that that person won’t like you. And so you censor yourself. I’ve been guilty of that in every meaningful relationship I’ve ever had. The time I learn how not to edit myself will be the time I consider myself a complete adult.”

—Madonna talking to Stephen Holden of The New York Times.
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