Today in Madonna History: November 3, 1992

On November 3 1992, Madonna’s Sex book was banned in New Delhi, India, with police officials announcing that they would confiscate any copies of the book entering the country.

Today in Madonna History: October 8, 2004

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On October 8 2004, Billboard announced that Madonna was the lead finalist for Billboard’s inaugural Backstage Pass Awards, in three categories:

  • Top Tour (based on gross dollars): Re-Invention Tour
  • Top Draw (based on total tickets sold): Re-Invention Tour
  • Top Boxscore Event (for a show at Madison Square Garden): Re-Invention Tour

The Backstage Pass Awards recognize the top achievements in touring (according to box office data).

Today in Madonna History: October 6, 1982

On October 6 1982, Everybody – the debut single by Madonna – was released by Sire/Warner Bros Records in the US on 7-inch and 12-inch single formats.

Originally intended to be the b-side to Ain’t No Big Deal, Everybody emerged from the recording sessions as the stronger choice for release and ended up being featured on both sides of the single (the 12-inch was backed with a dub remix while the 7-inch used a shorter instrumental version on the flip-side). It would also later be included as the closing track on Madonna’s self-titled first album.

Everybody was written by Madonna and produced by Mark Kamins.

Today In Madonna History: October 5, 2001

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On October 5 2001, Warner Bros Records announced that Madonna would release GHV2 – a new greatest hits album of 15 songs from 1991-2001.

Designed as a follow-up to her massively successful 1990 hits compilation, The Immaculate Collection, it featured no new songs – reportedly due to Madonna’s hectic schedule – although residual tensions between Madonna and her label at the time may have also played into the decision. Instead, various remix artists were commissioned to create a series of promotional mega-mixes to promote the release.

Today in Madonna History: September 30, 1995

On September 30 1995, Billboard magazine featured an exclusive interview with Madonna in a piece by Timothy White to promote her upcoming ballads collection, Something To Remember.  Focusing primarily on the connection between Madonna’s introspective ballads and the loss of her mother, the article (which appears in an abridged version below) was titled “‘Something’ In the Way She Grieves.”

“Listening to this record took me on my own journey,” says Madonna with a sad smile, shifting on the couch in her apartment overlooking Central Park. “Each song is like a map of my life. I don’t really listen to my records once I’ve done them, I’m onto the next thing. And I think most of the time when my records come out, people are so distracted by so much fanfare and controversy that nobody pays attention to the music. But this is, for the most part, a retrospective, and I just wanted to put it out in a very simple way. The songs, they choke me up, and I wrote them. Isn’t that weird? I can’t tell you how painful the idea of singing Like A Virgin or Material Girl is to me now. I didn’t write either of those songs and wasn’t digging deep then. I also feel more connected emotionally to the music I’m writing now, so it’s more of a pleasure to do it.”

Madonna has included three new songs on Something To Remember: a moody cover of Marvin Gaye’s 1976 hit I Want You, which was suggested and subsequently produced by Nellee Hooper and features Massive Attack, and two bittersweet serenades (You’ll See and One More Chance), co-created with David Foster during the third weekend of September in a whirlwind writing/recording session. Shortly after this talk, she was to leave for London to start recording the music for the film version of Evita, the musical that was the toast of Broadway in 1979–the year Madonna wrote her first song in the basement of a dormant Queens, NY synagogue.

“I remember calling up my father back in Detroit and making him hear it on the tape recorder over the phone,” she confides, blushing. “He said, ‘Oh, that’s very nice.’ I felt proud. The song was called Tell The Truth.”

A self-assessed “roller-coaster Catholic,” Madonna grew up sharing the middle bunk in a three-tier bed with two of her sisters. “I didn’t have any free time as a child,” she says. “My mother died of breast cancer when I was 7, and then my father remarried when I was 10. I had a lot of responsibility, taking care of my younger brothers and sisters.”

Like her siblings, Madonna was obliged to study music, specifically piano. “But I couldn’t sit still, and I begged my father to let me take dance lessons,” which served as a means of escape. Madonna was in the church choir and acted in school musicals, while sharing her mother’s mantra-like habit of idly intoning her favorite tunes. “As a teenager, I loved Aretha Franklin’s A Natural Woman, and in high school I worshiped Joni Mitchell and sang everything from Court And Spark, my coming-of-age record.”

But her pivotal developmental trial was the death of her mother, and as Madonna passes this fall afternoon discussing the themes behind her often acutely wistful ballads, she ultimately says, “My mother is part of a lot of my music.”

Although love songs, such as Live To Tell, One More Chance and I’ll Remember, also invoke the early fever of a failed marriage to Sean Penn, tensions with a stepmother who could not replace her lost parent, or later relationships that fell short, a larger phantom overshadows each mourning of life’s missed linkages.

“I think about my mother and a certain emptiness–a longing–in my songs. There are tragic, traumatic moments where I think ‘I wish that I could call my mother.’ It’s this primal thing that has been a springboard for the work I do.”

How did she learn her mother was gone?

“I was at my grandmother’s house. The phone rang, and it was my father, and he told my grandmother that my mother had died. I’d just seen her in the hospital. The rest of the day I blocked out–I probably went outside and played. I was majorly into denial and didn’t really understand. And it unfortunately wasn’t something that my father ever really prepared us for or discussed afterward. I suddenly developed a strange throwing-up disease, where every time I would leave the house, I would throw up. If I was away from my father, I threw up. It was a nervous condition.”

In recent years, when Madonna was under attack for her frank Erotica album and Sex book, the artist says she drew strength from her late parent’s nonjudgmental “fervor” for fulfilling one’s personal vision: “She had an unbelievable level of tolerance and forgiveness. She was tremendously religious in a really passionate–almost sexual–way, like she was in love with God. If you read the letters she wrote, even when she was sick and dying, she was completely happy about everything. It was frightening, there was just that faith of hers. My mother loved to take care of people. My older brothers and I were sometimes brutal to her, and she never complained.”

It sounds like the materfamilias had an essential serenity. “Exactly,” says her daughter. “And I could probably use more of it in my life.”

A brisk September breeze catches the leafy scent rising from the freshly mowed lawns of Central Park, the tangy end-of-season smell betokening the coming solstice. Madonna shivers slightly as she sips the last of her tea.

“I think my mother made people angry, because they couldn’t shake her beliefs,” she concludes in a near whisper. “And she was just 32 when she died–just a baby, Madonna Louise. So basically, I’m here to take her place.”

Today in Madonna History: September 15, 2014

On September 15 2014, Vice magazine’s blog THUMP published an article in which Stuart Price recalled his time spent collaborating with Madonna on her 2005 album, Confessions On A Dance Floor:

“Right before we made Confessions on a Dance Floor, I had made a record with a girl named Juliet [2005’s Random Order]; we had made that album over Thanksgiving in New York, when the city was completely dead, and it was just the two of us concentrating on working on it. [I went] straight from that to Madonna, and I assumed that would be a much different experience, but she completely surprised me.

The real eye-opener was about how focused she was on avoiding the kind of over-the-top, excessive, entourage-in-the-studio environment that I had expected. It was the total opposite, really. She helped to create an environment where we were like two kids working together in a studio. It was exactly the same feeling as it was when I was working with Juliet. She was really… I don’t want to say ‘smart,’ but she was really honest about music. She’s really instinctive in understanding that dance music comes from a very minimal way of working. It doesn’t come from throwing lots of money on a lavish production.

We spent five or six weeks in my apartment; the studio used to be upstairs in the loft. I would work on a track overnight, then she would come in and we’d start messing around. She would do vocal melodies and I would come up with a few ideas, and then she’d go, ‘Okay, I’m gonna go home and think about it.’ Then she’d come back the next day and have the hook for Hung Up or the chorus for Sorry. Then I would carry on working on more tracks to keep us going. It was more of a really fluid and almost childlike environment than anything that seemed too serious.

They always say that an album sounds like the time that you had making it. I know that with that album, it was a super-productive time, but it was also really fun and natural. And I think that comes across in the way it sounds.

It’s surprising that Madonna has such a simple work mode. I would have expected her to come in with her full entourage and play the diva, at least to some extent.

Well, don’t get me wrong—I think in a lot of parts of her life, she is the big-entourage person. But when it comes to being creative, she’s unexpectedly low-key. She’s great to work with, and I really mean that.”

Today in Madonna History: September 8, 1983

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On September 8 1983, Madonna’s Lucky Star single was released in the UK.

Although Lucky Star was issued promotionally as a double A-side with Holiday in the US in September 1983, it was not released commercially in North America until August 1984 when it was issued as the final single from Madonna’s self-titled debut album.

Lucky Star was written by Madonna and produced by Reggie Lucas, with additional remixing by Jellybean Benitez. It is the most successful of her North American singles that were entirely self-written, reaching #4 on the U.S. Hot 100 and #8 in Canada (RPM Top 100). It was also her first Top-5 single in the U.S.

In the U.K., her self-written single Gambler was a bigger hit, reaching #4 in the fall of 1985, while Lucky Star peaked at #14.

Madonna wrote the song in 1982 after landing her first recording contract with Sire Records. It was rumoured to have been written about Mark Kamins, although we’re unsure whether that has ever been confirmed by Madonna herself.

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