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: 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: September 9, 2015

On September 9 2015, Huffington Post interviewed Patrick Leonard and asked about the possibility of them working together again:

If Madonna called you up for her next album, do you think you’re still in a mindset where you could direct her tour?

No. No, I couldn’t because the paths that our lives took are appropriate for what they are. When we met and did the work that we did, I was still in my 20s, or maybe my early 30s as we walked into Like a Prayer. I was still really interested in the pop form. I’m not disinterested in it now, but for the last few years I’ve been working with Leonard Cohen and writing piano music. I’m more of a composer. I just wouldn’t be interested in it, and I don’t think she’d be interested in my ideas anymore. I think we could still write a great song — I don’t think there’s any question about that. But my head just isn’t there at all. It would be fun to see her and fun to think together for a minute, because we were good at that at one point. But that was a long time ago, almost 30 years. I think she deserves better than what I would give her right now, for sure. If she wanted to write an opera, I’d be her guy.

Do you have a favorite Madonna memory?  

Yes. When we were on tour. We were in London and it was her birthday. There was a private party in a club, and all these people wanted to dance with her and hang out with her, and Jessie, my daughter, was with us on tour at that time. She was right around 2 years old. You can find things in the press that are still out there — Madonna sat her up on the bar and put half a glass of champagne in her, or a couple of sips or whatever it was, and danced with her pretty much all night. Jessie stood in the middle of the dance floor and spun in her dress, and the next day you saw all these things in all these tabloids with all these faces of celebrities who wanted to dance with her, and Jessie was their foil all night.That was really fun to just see her embrace my daughter and have fun like that. It was really, really special. There are a lot of memories. She’s a good girl. Madonna is a good girl.

Read the full interview here.

Today in Madonna History: July 13, 1985

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On July 13 1985, Madonna performed at the Live Aid benefit concert at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA.

Madonna’s set included Into The Groove, Holiday, and a brand new song that she had written with Patrick Leonard during The Virgin Tour, Love Makes The World Go Round. The latter song marked the first known songwriting collaboration in a partnership with Leonard that would prove to be long lasting and especially fruitful. The track would resurface, among other songs co-produced by the pair, on Madonna’s True Blue album a year later.

Madonna also joined the Thompson Twins on stage for a cover The Beatles’ Revolution.

Today in Madonna History: June 30, 1997

On June 30 1997, Madonna began recording sessions for what would become her Ray Of Light album at Larrabee North Recording Studios, Universal City, Los Angeles.

Madonna had already spent several months writing songs and producing demos with Patrick Leonard, Rick Nowels and Babyface (although none of the Babyface material would make the final cut) by the time she entered the studio with co-producers William Orbit and Marius De Vries. Leonard would return to the project to assist with arrangements, earning him a co-producer’s credit on four of the album’s tracks. Madonna would add lyrics and melody to at least a half-dozen previously composed Orbit demos during these sessions as well, with six of their songs making the final cut.

One song that came very close to being included on the album, Has To Be, was dropped due to Madonna’s desire to limit the number of songs on the album to lucky number thirteen. In a final toss-up between Has To Be and To Have And Not To Hold, the former was nixed in favor of the latter. Has To Be would fortunately make it to the ears of fans, however, due to its inclusion as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of the Ray Of Light album, and as the international b-side to the Ray Of Light single.

Has To Be was born as a collaboration between Madonna and Patrick Leonard. Recently surfaced demos from their writing session include two early versions of the song – the first is a piano-based arrangement in a similar style to the previous Madonna/Leonard collaboration, Something To Remember, while the second demo is an experimental synth-based reworking.

After entering the studio with William Orbit, Madonna adapted Has To Be to one of Orbit’s previously composed electronic soundscapes. Although the original Orbit instrumental piece with celestial voices has never been commercially released, it had previously aired on Orbit’s weekly radio series, Stereo Odyssey, on California’s KCRW prior to his involvement with Madonna. A sound file of the original instrumental that has circulated among fans is a recording from one of these broadcasts.

Although the released version of Has To Be is substantially different from the early Leonard demos, enough elements from its original melody lines (which were based on Leonard’s piano phrases) were carried over to warrant a three-way publishing split between Madonna/Orbit/Leonard for its official release.

Despite its relative obscurity, in fan circles Has To Be often ranks among her most beloved ballads.

Today in Madonna History: June 22, 1990

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On June 22 1990, the second and final single from Madonna’s I’m Breathless album, Hanky Panky, was released in North America.

Greg Sandow, from Entertainment Weekly, called the song a “delightful challenge to censorship”.

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