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.

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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: 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: May 10, 1997

On May 10 1997, Gary Barlow’s Love Won’t Wait hit #1 on the UK Singles chart. The track was the lead single from the former Take That singer’s debut solo album, Open Road.

The song was written by Madonna & Shep Pettibone during an early 1994 writing session for what would evolve into Madonna’s Bedtime Stories album.

After recording a handful of demos with Pettibone, Madonna decided to shift musical directions. While some of Madonna’s lyrics from the Pettibone sessions would be reworked into songs that would appear on Bedtime Stories, the excellent Love Won’t Wait remained shelved until it was submitted to Gary Barlow’s manager for consideration.

Strangely, Barlow’s single release credited only Shep Pettibone as the song’s writer, with no mention of Madonna or her publishing company, Webo Girl, Inc. This was subsequently corrected in the liner notes for Barlow’s album, Open Road, with both Madonna & Pettibone receiving credit.

Madonna’s soulfully delivered original demo version of Love Won’t Wait leaked online a few years after Barlow’s version was released.

Today in Madonna History: April 7, 1990

On April 7 1990, Madonna’s Vogue single was briefly reviewed in Billboard magazine.

Vogue’s early release to radio and the addition of its music video to MTV’s playlist were also noted in the same issue.

Today in Madonna History: March 20, 1990

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On March 20 1990, the lead single from Madonna’s I’m Breathless album, Vogue, was released.

Vogue was written and produced by Madonna and Shep Pettibone in December 1989.  The song was recorded with the intention of being the b-side to the upcoming (and last single for the Like A Prayer album), Keep It Together (released on January 30 1990).

The finished product was too good to be a single b-side, so it was decided that Vogue would be a stand-alone single on Madonna’s forthcoming album, I’m Breathless (even though the song had nothing to do with Dick Tracy).

Today In Madonna History: February 26, 1991

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On February 26 1991, Madonna’s Rescue Me was released as the second single (in North America) from her 1990 greatest hits set, The Immaculate Collection.

Rescue Me was written by Madonna, Shep Pettibone and Anthony Shimkin.

With you I’m not a little girl, with you I’m not a man
When all the hurt inside of me comes out, you understand
You see that I’m ferocious, you see that I am weak
You see that I am silly, and pretentious and a freak

But I don’t feel too strange for you, don’t know exactly what you do
I think when love is pure, you try to understand the reasons why
And I prefer this mystery, it cancels out my misery
And gives me hope that there could be a person that loves me

Rescue me, it’s hard to believe
Your love has given me hope
Rescue me, it’s hard to believe
I’m drowning, baby, throw out your rope

The CD maxi-single included:

Rescue Me – (Single Mix) – (4:53)
Rescue Me – (Titanic Vocal) – (8:15)
Rescue Me – (Houseboat Vocal) – (6:56)
Rescue Me – (Lifeboat Vocal) – (5:20)
Rescue Me – (S.O.S. Mix) – (6:23)

Today in Madonna History: December 16, 1989

On December 16 1989, Billboard magazine’s dance music section reported that Madonna had written and recorded a new song with Shep Pettibone titled Vogue. The article noted that the track was set to appear on the b-side of Madonna’s next single, Keep It Together.

These plans would soon change when it was decided that Vogue had too much hit potential to be released as a b-side, and it would instead be issued as a single in its own right once Keep It Together had run its course on the charts. In Europe, where Keep It Together was not promoted as a single, it would in fact be used as the b-side to Vogue.

Vogue would go on to become the best-selling physical single of Madonna’s career.

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