On January 30 1990, Keep It Together was released in North America as the fifth and final single from Like A Prayer. It also received a commercial release in Japan, Australia, Ecuador and the Philippines, while some European markets opted to include it as the b-side to Madonna’s next single, Vogue.
As fate would ironically have it, Madonna’s soulful ode to remembering ones roots would turn out to be the last Madonna-performed single co-written and co-produced with longtime collaborator Stephen Bray, whom she had befriended (or by some accounts, dated) during her days as a student at the University of Michigan. A final collaboration written by the pair, Get Over – which is speculated to have been written as a potential new track for The Immaculate Collection but was instead given to fellow Warner recording artist Nick Scotti – was released as a single in 1993, after first appearing on the Nothing But Trouble soundtrack in 1991.
Although no music video was produced for Keep It Together, the maxi-single – jam-packed with memorable remixes by Shep Pettibone and DJ Mark “The 45 King” with Stephen Bray – made the single a must-have for fans around the world. And despite its exclusion from her greatest hits releases, Madonna’s show-closing (and show-stopping) performance of the song during her legendary Blond Ambition Tour – and its accompanying documentary Truth Or Dare – has also served to keep the song alive in the hearts and minds of fans.
On January 23 1990, Madonna’s Like A Prayer album was certified triple platinum for sales of 3 million units in the USA.
Producer Patrick Leonard talked to Billboard magazine about working with Madonna on Like A Prayer:
“She’d start writing lyrics and oftentimes there was an implied melody. She would start with that and deviate from it. Or if there was nothing but a chord change, she’d make up a melody. But, a lot of the time in my writing there’s a melody implied or I even have something in mind. But she certainly doesn’t need that. She would write the lyrics in an hour, the same amount of time it took me to write the music, and then she’d sing it. We’d do some harmonies, she’d sing some harmony parts, and usually by three or four in the afternoon, she was gone.”
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.
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:
Laughing away your tears
When she was the one who felt all the pain
Keep them alive inside
I promise to try, it’s not the same
Never look behind, life isn’t fair
That’s what you said, so I try not to care
I think you forgot to kiss, kiss her goodbye
Does she hear my voice in the night when I call
Wipe away all your tears, it’s gonna be all right
I was afraid you’d go away, too
And learn to forgive me
I promise to try, but it feels like a lie
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
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.