Today in Madonna History: July 21, 2001

Madonna performing during the first show in the North American leg of her 'Drowned World Tour 2001' at the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pa., 7/21/01. Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect.

madonna dwt ticket philadelphia july 21 2001

Madonna performing during the first show in the North American leg of her 'Drowned World Tour 2001' at the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pa., 7/21/01. Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect.

On July 21 2001, Madonna kicked off the U.S. leg of her Drowned World Tour with the first of two sold-out concerts at the First Union Centre (now the Wells Fargo Centre) in Philadelphia.

For the first time in her career, Madonna altered one of her tour set lists by performing You’ll See in the place Gone at select shows during the U.S. leg of the tour. You’ll See made its live debut at the July 21st show in Philadelphia and was performed again the following night. The decision to alter the set list was rumoured to have been made in response to European reviews of the tour, which despite being generally favorable, often lamented the show’s overabundance of new material and lack of hits.

Personally, we were pleased that the Ray Of Light and Music albums were the primary focus of the Drowned World Tour. If she had instead focused on hits, it is likely that these two essential Madonna albums would have been treated similarly to Bedtime Stories–an album from which she has yet to perform anything other than its four released singles.

Were you disappointed at the time by the lack of hits and the focus on recent album cuts during the Drowned World Tour? Have your views shifted at all in retrospect?

Today in Madonna History: July 17, 1993

On July 17 1993, Rain was released as a single in North America. It was the fourth and final North American single from the Erotica album.

Following a cold reception to Madonna’s previous North American single – the bleak-but-beautiful Bad Girl Rain was given a glossy makeover by French record producer Daniel Abraham (who had recently completed a similar assignment with the video remix of Fever) to help ensure that it would receive a warmer welcome from radio programmers. The U.S. promotional CD that was serviced to radio by Maverick/Warner offered the choice between the sweetened “Radio Remix” (in full-length and edited form) or an edited album version, the latter of which was fittingly used in the song’s gorgeous music video.

As her label had correctly predicted, radio indeed favored the smoother sound of the “Radio Remix” over the darker, more dynamic (and in our opinion, more interesting) production-work of the album mix.

While not an all-out smash hit, Rain was the first single from the Erotica album to impact Billboard’s Hot AC chart, where it reached the Top 10, and it is generally viewed as an initial recovery step following the backlash Madonna had faced in the wake of the Sex book.

rain lyrics 550

Written and produced by Madonna & Shep Pettibone (unlike the majority of the tracks from Erotica, Tony Shimkin has not been added as co-writer, according to the Warner-Chappel publishing database), Rain was one of the earliest songs conceived during the Erotica album sessions. It appears as the first track on a two-cassette collection of demos from the album sessions submitted to the U.S. Library Of Congress for copyright registration.

The infamously sought-after set is often referred to by fans as The Rain Tapes because of the song’s prominent placement in its sequencing and also due to the likely unintentional visual prominence of the song’s title in the handwritten sleeve notes that accompanied the tapes.

Shep Pettibone created the song’s interesting use of panning percussion by digitally cutting and splicing samples of percussion breaks from an extended version of Scritti Politti’s 1985 hit, Perfect Way (and no, he was not involved with creating the remix). Although no sample credit was given on the album, considering the royalties the band would have earned for their inclusion on Madonna’s Who’s That Girl soundtrack, perhaps she figured that they owed her one.

Rain US Cassette Maxi Single Inner Sleeve

The Rain maxi-single was perhaps most notable for its inclusion of a non-album track, Up Down Suite, which was for all intents and purposes a dub remix of album outtake, Goodbye To Innocence (which remained unreleased at the time, aside from some vocal samples used in a promo-only remix of Fever). A new remix (featuring Everlast) of the Erotica album track, Waiting, was also included on the North American maxi-single, while its album version served as the single’s North American b-side.

With its poetically poignant and emotionally charged lyrics, percussive urgency and one of Madonna’s most ambitious uses of layered self-harmonization (not to mention it being accompanied by one of the most beautiful music videos ever created), it isn’t difficult to understand why Rain remains an enduring fan favorite.

“It’s strange
I feel like I’ve known you before
And I want to understand you
More and more and more
When I’m with you
I feel like a magical child
Everything strange
Everything wild

Waiting is the hardest thing
I tell myself that if I believe in you
In the dream of you
With all my heart and all my soul
That by sheer force of will
I will raise you from the ground
And without a sound you’ll appear
And surrender to me, to love”

Today In Madonna History: July 15, 1995

On July 15 1995, Madonna’s Human Nature single peaked at #46 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.

Human Nature was written and produced by Madonna and Dave Hall, with its bass and percussion parts sampled from the track What You Need by Main Source.

The North American Human Nature single was backed with the album version of Sanctuary, which was produced by Madonna & Dallas Austin with additional remixing by Nellee Hooper.

Sanctuary was originally written by Anne Preven and Scott Cutler of the short-lived 90’s band, Ednaswap, best known for Nathalie Imbruglia’s cover of their original song, Torn. Madonna was passed a demo tape of Sanctuary by a friend of Preven and Cutler, who heard an early version of it and thought “Madonna would love this song!” Madonna’s version came out before Ednaswap had even signed a record deal, and the song deviated significantly from the demo. Preven originally thought Madonna had ruined the song, going so far as meeting with Madonna to plead for changes. However, upon hearing the song as part of the whole album, Preven had a change of heart and “understood what [Madonna] was going for.”

The most significant change was Austin and Madonna’s interpolation of Sanctuary with an instrumental demo Austin had created which centers around a looped sample from Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man (the funk-based arrangement from his 1973 album, Head Hunters). Madonna also provided additional lyrical and melodic contributions.

While Austin’s instrumental demo that was worked in to Sanctuary later leaked to the internet, Ednaswap did not release their own version of the song and their original demo recording has yet to surface online.

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 29, 1998

Ray of Light Canadian CD Single cover insert back Ray of Light Canadian CD Single tray insertRay of Light Canadian CD Single disc

On June 29 1998, Madonna’s Ray of Light single peaked at #3 on RPM’s Top 100 Canadian Singles chart.

As with all the Canadian singles from the Ray of Light album, the title track was issued by Warner Music Canada as a 2-track CD single and as a CD maxi-single. In the U.S., the album’s CD singles were issued in cardboard sleeves with “draw pack” trays and the CD maxi-singles in “FLP digipak” cases, while in Canada the two configurations for each of the album’s four domestic singles were packaged in standard CD jewel cases with printed inserts.

Today in Madonna History: June 6, 2006

get together canadian maxi single cover 550get together canadian maxi single back cover 550

On June 6 2006, Get Together was released as the third international single from the Confessions On A Dance Floor album on Warner Bros. Records.

The initial marketing for Confessions On A Dance Floor revealed plans to release Jump as the album’s third single. This was later revised after Get Together proved to be the third most popular digital download from the album after its first two singles, Hung Up and Sorry, warranting its release ahead of Jump, which became the fourth and final single.

Get Together was written by Madonna, Anders Bagge, Peer Åström & Stuart Price with production by Madonna & Price. The final version also includes a small sampling of string elements from the song’s original production (which only became evident once the original demos leaked to the internet several years later), hence the unusual “Original Production by Bagge & Åström” credit inclusion in the liner notes of the album and single.

Today in Madonna History: June 4, 1983

burning up australia 12'' back 550physical attraction u.s. promo

On June 4 1983, Burning Up/Physical Attraction spent its third and final week at its peak position of number-three on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the U.S.

Available only on 12″ single in the U.S., the release charted as a double A-side single. Its run on the Dance/Club chart spanned a total of sixteen weeks, seven of which were spent in the top-five. In a rather strange marketing twist, a music video was produced for Burning Up while only Physical Attraction was promoted to radio – with an edited version of the latter being featured on both sides of the rare 7″ promo.

To further confuse matters, the version of Burning Up that was featured on the 12″ was in actuality not a remix, but rather the original Reggie Lucas production of the song. Instead, the two distinct versions of the song that later turned up at separate times on her debut album were in fact remixes by John “Jellybean” Benitez. Physical Attraction was also remixed by Benitez, although his version appears on both the single and the album.

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