Today in Madonna History: December 24, 1995

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On December 24 1995, Oh Father was released as the second UK single from Madonna’s ballads retrospective, Something To Remember.

Warner had initially declined the option to release Oh Father in most European markets when it became the fourth North American single from Like A Prayer in late 1989, instead opting for a more by-the-numbers portrait of childhood innocence with the release of Dear Jessie. Why it was determined to be a better idea in 1995, following its poor showing on the U.S. charts, is anyone’s guess. One possibility is that Oh Father‘s brilliant preexisting music video provided an easy, cost-free means of promoting the song while Madonna remained unavailable due to her recording commitments for the Evita soundtrack.

While I would personally rank Oh Father among Madonna’s very best musical and lyrical efforts, and its music video an underrated classic – it never had the makings of a commercial hit. And history repeated itself when the song’s dark subject matter once again stunted its ability to gain momentum on radio for its British release. It became only her third UK single at the time to peak outside the top-ten when it stalled at #16 in its first charting week. It fared better in Finland and Italy, however, reaching #6 in both countries.

Today in Madonna History: November 25, 1995

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On November 25 1995, Madonna’s greatest ballads collection, Something To Remember, hit #6 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart in the USA.

Madonna worked with David Foster on two of the three new songs for the collection: You’ll See and One More Chance.

Foster had this to say about working with Madonna:

“She had an amazing work ethic. She was on time every day and was really co-producing the songs with me. A lot of artists want to produce just because they can, and they don’t do a thing for the credit, which I really hate. But Madonna worked as hard as any producer I know … I liked the whole experience of working with her—the punctuality, the professionalism, and the sexiness.”

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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 6, 1996

On May 6 1996, dance remixes of Love Don’t Live Here Anymore by Markus Schulz & C.L. McSpadden were released to clubs by Maverick Records on promotional twelve-inch vinyl & CD in the U.S.

Additional club remixes of the track by Mark Picchiotti were also issued in the U.K. as a twelve-inch white-label promo.

Today in Madonna History: March 7, 1996

On March 7 1996, Madonna’s One More Chance was released as the third single in the UK and several other European countries, and the second single in Australia and Japan, from her ballads collection, Something to Remember.

The song received positive response from music critics overall, who praised its musical simplicity and Madonna’s nuanced and emotive vocal delivery.  Since Madonna was busy filming the Evita, the song received little promotion and no original music video was produced to accompany the release.

The Spanish version of You’ll See, titled Verás, appeared as the B-side of the single release.

In a January 1996 interview with Spin magazine, Madonna said of the song: “Often in my songwriting, I take things people say to me and turn them around, and put it in the first person. So it’s actually something that was said to me.”

One More Chance was written and produced by Madonna and David Foster. Foster initially did not expect Madonna would collaborate with him, as he believed that his music was not “really hip enough for her.” Madonna and Foster worked on the song during the writing and recording session for Something to Remember, in the third weekend of September 1995. They wrote and recorded three songs for the project, but only You’ll See and One More Chance made the final cut.

Their third track from the sessions, titled I Can’t Forget, was later offered by Madonna’s songwriting publisher to the to the UK electronic/dance group, Tilt, to record. Their version, retitled Come Closer, was released on their 2006 rarities collection, Vaults. Several years after Tilt’s version was issued, Madonna and Foster’s original demo recording of I Can’t Forget surfaced on the internet.

 

Today In Madonna History: March 2, 1985

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On March 2 1985, Madonna’s first single from the Vision Quest soundtrack, Crazy For You, was released.

Crazy For You later appeared on Madonna’s greatest hits collection, The Immaculate Collection. It was also included on her greatest ballads collection, Something To Remember and later on her career spanning hit collection, Celebration.

Lyrics: 

Swaying room as the music starts
Strangers making the most of the dark
Two by two their bodies become one

I see you through the smokey air
Can’t you feel the weight of my stare
You’re so close but still a world away
What I’m dying to say, is that

I’m crazy for you
Touch me once and you’ll know it’s true
I never wanted anyone like this
It’s all brand new, you’ll feel it in my kiss
I’m crazy for you, crazy for you

Trying hard to control my heart
I walk over to where you are
Eye to eye we need no words at all

Slowly now we begin to move
Every breath I’m deeper into you
Soon we two are standing still in time
If you read my mind, you’ll see

It’s all brand new, I’m crazy for you
And you know it’s true
I’m crazy, crazy for you

Today in Madonna History: January 6, 1996

On January 6 1996, You’ll See peaked at #10 on Billboard’s Latin Pop Airplay chart in the U.S.

With the help of the single’s Spanish version, Verás, the song would also reach #21 in Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks chart several weeks later, on January 20th.

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