Today in Madonna History: August 10, 1985

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On August 10 1985, Into The Groove spent the first of four weeks in the #1 position on the UK Singles Chart. It was Madonna’s first chart-topping single in the UK, where she has collected a total of thirteen #1 hits to date.

As an added validation, Into the Groove was Madonna’s first self-produced release (co-produced with Stephen Bray). While artists co-producing their own work is common today, it was relatively unusual at the time, particularly for female artists. The immense success of the single undoubtedly helped convince the powers at Sire/Warner to grant Madonna the artistic freedom to co-produce her next album, True Blue, together with her collaborators Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard.

Today in Madonna History: June 30, 1986

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On June 30 1986, Madonna’s True Blue album was released by Sire Records. She worked with Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard on the album while co-writing and co-producing all the songs.

True Blue was an immediate global success, reaching number one in then record-breaking 28 countries across the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. It spent 34 consecutive weeks at the top of the European Top 100 Albums chart, longer than any other album in history. It became the world’s top-selling album of 1986, as well the biggest selling album of the 1980s by a woman and remains one of the best-selling albums of all time with sales of more than 25 million copies worldwide. All five singles released from the album reached the top five on the Billboard Hot 100, with Live to Tell, Papa Don’t Preach, and Open Your Heart peaking at number one.

Today in Madonna History: June 7, 1986

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On June 7 1986, Madonna’s Live To Tell hit #1 in the USA. Live To Tell was written and produced together by Madonna and Patrick Leonard.

Speaking of Patrick Leonard, one of our all-time favourite Madonna collaborators — he currently has a Kickstarter campaign going for a new album called Bring The Circus Home, a collection of re-visited and re-imagined songs (piano-only, no vocals) that he and Madonna worked on and released together. Please check out Patrick’s Kickstarter campaign and donate/pledge if you can — this is an all-or-nothing campaign. He will not be able to proceed with the album if the goal is not met by Wednesday July 4.

Jay’s Note: I’m going to pledge $100 so I can get one of the limited edition vinyl releases! Woo-hoo vinyl! 

This beautiful video shows Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard playing a solo piano version of Live To Tell:

Today in Madonna History: May 31, 1986

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On May 31 1986, Madonna’s Live To Tell hit #1 for 3 weeks on US Hot Adult Contemporary singles chart.

The song was Madonna’s third number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and her first number-one on the Adult Contemporary chart.

In an interview about the song, Madonna said, “I thought about my relationship with my parents and the lying that went on. The song is about being strong, and questioning whether you can be that strong but ultimately surviving.”

In a review of the album True Blue, Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic called it a “tremendous ballad that rewrites the rules of adult contemporary crossover”.

Jim Farber from Entertainment Weekly called the song “her best ballad to date”.

In a review of her compilation album The Immaculate Collection, David Browne from Entertainment Weekly magazine called it “one of her few successful shots at being a balladeer”.

Alfred Soto from Stylus Magazine felt that “the song’s set of lyrics remain her best” and that the vocals “seethes with a lifetime’s worth of hurts which she nevertheless refuses to share”.

Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine called the song “striking” adding that it “rewrote the rules of what a pop song was supposed to sound like”.

Edna Gundersen from USA Today called the song “a moody heart-tugger, may be her best song ever.”

Today in Madonna History: May 27, 2017

On May 27 2017, the long-running and highly respected authority on record collecting, Goldmine Magazine, inducted Patrick Leonard into the Goldmine Hall Of Fame for his contributions to the music industry as a songwriter, producer and musician. His work with Madonna in particular was highlighted in his induction bio.

Madonna was one of the earliest inductees into the Goldmine Hall Of Fame, having secured her place in the second round of inductions. Leonard was inducted in the 95th round, which is impressive nonetheless for an artist who has always kept a relatively low profile despite working with some of the biggest names in the music business, including Michael Jackson and Leonard Cohen, and is certainly well-deserved.

As Madonna fans, we respect that she is a forward-thinking artist and our hope is that she will always continue to follow any creative path that inspires her. While we do not discount the many other brilliant songwriters Madonna has collaborated with, nor do we deny Madonna’s own gifts of writing brilliant melodic hooks and conveying universal truths through her words, the proof that Madonna and Leonard bring out the very best in each other’s craft is right there in their songs. Whether destiny holds future collaborations between Madonna & Leonard is entirely their decision to make, but should the pair find themselves inspired to work together again, it would certainly be to the delight of most Madonna fans, and potentially to fans of great music in general.

Our view is that when strong chemistry exists in a songwriting partnership, especially one that has produced such varied output as Madonna & Leonard’s, there is always an opportunity to reconnect and create something fresh and relevant. This was proven when the pair reunited for 1998’s Ray of Light, an album which, promotional tactics aside, owes as much in substance to Madonna/Leonard as it does in style to Madonna/Orbit.

The bottom line is – great songs are great songs. You can restyle a great song to make it fit with the production trends of the day, but if a song is all style with little substance it won’t stay fresh for long. The songwriting partnership of Madonna & Leonard has yielded a body of work that has consistently proven itself to be timeless. And is this not the ultimate goal of any forward-thinking artist – to produce work that is substantial and transcendent enough to remain relevant well into the future?

Today in Madonna History: March 3, 1989

On March 3 1989, Madonna’s Like A Prayer single was released.

Like A Prayer is a very important song to me. I felt the impact that it was going to make. That song means a lot more to me than Like A Virgin. I wrote it and it’s from my heart. It’s a very spiritual song. I think I was much more spiritually in touch with the power of words and music by the time I started recording the song and the album.”

Patrick Leonard had this to say about Like A Prayer:

“I think there was a point when we realized that it was the title track, and the lead track, and it was going to be a powerhouse. It became obvious that there was something unique about it. And that somehow we made this thing work: with its stopping and starting, and a minimalistic rhythmic thing, and the verses, and these bombastic choruses, and this giant choir comes in. This is ambitious, you know?”

Today in Madonna History: February 7, 1987

On February 7 1987, Open Your Heart hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.  It was the 4th international single release from the True Blue album.

The single’s b-side, White Heat, was inspired by the 1949 Warner Bros. film of the same name starring James Cagney, to whom Madonna dedicated the song. Interspersed with dialogue taken directly from the film, Madonna’s lyrics put her love of double entendre to clever use as she compares the film’s themes of trust and betrayal among gang members to affairs of the heart.

White Heat was written and produced by Madonna & Patrick Leonard and was one of the earlier songs developed for the True Blue album, along with Open Your Heart. The initial copyright registration, submitted to the Library Of Congress in 1985, lists the song under its original title, Get Up Stand Tall.

Both songs were performed during 1987’s Who’s That Girl Tour. White Heat was also featured as the b-side for the single, Who’s That Girl, released in the summer of 1987.

 

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