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.

 

Today in Madonna History: January 20, 1988

madonna_youcandance

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: 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: November 28, 1998

On November 28 1998, Madonna’s The Power Of Good-Bye hit #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart in the USA. The hit single from Ray Of Light was written by Madonna and Rick Nowels; produced by Madonna, William Orbit and Patrick Leonard.

Rick Nowels had this to say about his experience writing the song with Madonna:

It was a career-changing experience for me. Before that I had always done my co-writing with friends. But working with Madonna. It was the first time I had ever written one-on-one with a great artist/writer. After that I changed gears a little, and now I mostly collaborate directly with artists.

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 track list.

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