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: May 22, 1990

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On May 22 1990, Madonna’s I’m Breathless: Music From And Inspired By The Film Dick Tracy album was released.

In the December 1994 issue of Q magazine, Madonna declared:

“I would have to say the favourite record that I’ve made is the soundtrack to Dick Tracy (“I’m Breathless”). I love every one of those songs… My judgement is never based on the world’s reaction.”

Today in Madonna History: March 21, 1989

On March 21 1989, Madonna’s Like A Prayer album was released.

Written and produced by Madonna with Patrick Leonard, Stephen Bray and Prince, the Like A Prayer album was considered to be a major artistic leap forward for Madonna, and was certainly her most personal offering to date at the time of its release.

Allmusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine offered this 5-star (out of 5) review of the album:

Out of all of Madonna’s albums, Like a Prayer is her most explicit attempt at a major artistic statement. Even though it is apparent that she is trying to make a “serious” album, the kaleidoscopic variety of pop styles on Like a Prayer is quite dazzling. Ranging from the deep funk of Express Yourself and Keep It Together to the haunting Oh Father and Like a Prayer, Madonna displays a commanding sense of songcraft, making this her best and most consistent album.

Happy 30th anniversary to one of our favorites – the phenomenal Like A Prayer!

Today in Madonna History: March 14, 1998

On March 14 1998, Madonna’s Ray of Light album was reviewed in Billboard magazine.

The Ray of Light album would debut at #2 in the U.S. the following week, being held back from the top spot by the blockbuster soundtrack for the film, Titanic.

Meanwhile in Canada, the album would enter the chart at #1, pushing Titanic into the runner-up position.

Today in Madonna History: March 9, 1993


On March 9 1993, Madonna’s longtime backup singer & dancer, Donna De Lory, released the second single from her self-titled debut album. Just A Dream was written & produced by Madonna & Patrick Leonard and also features backing vocals from Madonna.

Although the song’s origin has not been confirmed, it is believed to have been an outtake from the Like A Prayer album, as it includes many of the same musicians from those sessions.

The single peaked at #10 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club chart.

Today in Madonna History: March 3, 1989

On March 3 1989, Madonna’s Like A Prayer single and music video were released.

Happy 30th anniversary to one of Madonna’s most enduring and beloved songs. It still takes us there!

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