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 track list.
On June 11 2015, a Rick Nowels interview was featured at songwriteruniverse.com in which he spoke about how he came to collaborate with Madonna for the Ray Of Light sessions:
“I always wanted to work with Madonna. I loved her voice, her songwriting, and the great records she made with Pat Leonard, Stephen Bray and Nile Rodgers. In 1997 I was in New York for the Grammys. I was up for Album of the Year (as one of the producers) for Celine Dion’s Falling Into You. I was in Barney’s (store) getting a tie for the Grammys and I saw Madonna there. I introduced myself, and I told her that she didn’t get the credit she deserved as a songwriter. Which is true, but it’s also an awkward thing to tell a huge superstar! She was very cool and gracious. I ended up getting a meeting with her in L.A. a few weeks later. We wrote nine songs together — three made the Ray of Light album: The Power of Good-bye, Little Star and To Have and Not To Hold. The Power of Good-bye was a number one song in U.K. and Europe. It was a career-changing experience for me. Before that I had always done my co-writing with friends. But working with Madonna…it was the first time I had ever written one-on-one with a great artist/writer. After that I changed gears a little, and now I mostly collaborate directly with artists.”
On March 13 1999, Madonna’s The Power of Good-Bye, fell to #63 on the Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales chart, spending its final week on the chart (after 22 weeks).
The Power of Good-Bye was written by Madonna and Rick Nowels. The song was produced by Madonna, William Orbit, Patrick Leonard with string arrangements by Craig Armstrong.
Rick said this of the hit song:
“The lyrics to The Power Of Good-Bye are stunning. I love Madonna as an artist and a songwriter… She is a wonderful confessional songwriter, as well as being a superb hit chorus pop writer… She doesn’t get the credit she deserves as a writer.”
On December 26 1998, the fourth single from Madonna’s Ray of Light album, The Power of Good-Bye, peaked at #2 on the United World Chart.
Billboard’s Larry Flick had this to say about the single release of The Power of Good-Bye in the September 12, 1998 issue of the magazine:
Next to the title track to Madonna’s glorious Ray of Light opus, this is the tune that radio programmers and diehard fans have long been clamoring to be released as a single. With a little help from co-producers William Orbit and Patrick Leonard, the diva brilliantly nestles a dewy love ballad within a cutting-edge electronic pop framework. You can listen to this track a dozen times and still pluck something new from the richly layered arrangement, which is anchored by a crisp shuffle beat and sweetened by occasional orchestral string flourishes and contrasting acoustic guitar strumming. All the while, Madonna performs with a confidence that allows her to flawlessly merge a widened vocal range with a considerable dose of raw emotion and soul. Although this gem would find instant success on its own, look for The Power of Good-Bye to be bolstered by its prominent play during the hotly anticipated new WB TV series Felicity.
On September 22 1998, The Power of Good-Bye was released as the third North American single from the Ray Of Light album. It was the fourth single in international markets that opted to release Drowned World/Substitute For Love as the album’s third single.
In the UK, the release was promoted as a double A-side single with Little Star.
The Power Of Good-Bye was written by Madonna & Rick Nowels and was produced by Madonna, William Orbit & Patrick Leonard. An earlier demo version of the track, believed to have been produced by Madonna & Leonard prior to Orbit’s involvement in the project, leaked in 2002.
On January 2 1999, Madonna’s The Power Of Good-Bye single peaked at #14 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in the USA.
Your heart is not open so I must go
The spell has been broken, I loved you so
Freedom comes when you learn to let go
Creation comes when you learn to say no
You were my lesson I had to learn
I was your fortress you had to burn
Pain is a warning that something’s wrong
I pray to God that it won’t be long
Do ya wanna go higher?