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2 Madonna releases voor Record Store Day 2018

Record Store Day is een internationaal georganiseerde feestdag, waarop wereldwijd de platenwinkels en platenlabels extra activiteiten organiseren, om de branche te promoten. Jaarlijks doen zo'n 700 onafhankelijke platenwinkels in de Verenigde Staten mee, alsmede enkele honderden platenwinkels in de rest van de wereld.

Record Store Day 2018 vindt plaats op zaterdag 21 april aanstaande. Er verschijnen ditmaal 2 Madonna releases:

The First Album -Limited-

  • Release: 21-04-2018 | Label: RHINO
  • 1 x LP

record store day 2018 first album

Release info
Reissue of a rare 1983 Japanese 8-track Picture Disc LP of MADONNA’s first album.  Faithfully replicated with original lilac card insert, fold-out page Japanese biography / lyric insert & clear PVC outer with the pink heart-shaped obi-sticker featuring the original Japanese text.

Side A 
1. Lucky Star (5:30)
2. Borderline (5:18)
3. Burning Up (4:48)
4. I Know It (3:45)

Side B
1. Holiday (6:08)
2. Think of me (4:53)
3. Physical attraction (6:35)
4. Everybody (4:57)

You Can Dance -Coloured-

  • Release: 21-04-2018 | Label: RHINO
  • 1 x LP

record store day 2018 you dan dance

Release info
Reissue of Madonna’s first remix album, featuring remixes of seven of Madonna’s hit songs; Spotlight, Holiday, Everybody, Physical Attraction, Over And Over, Into The Groove and Where’s The Party. Producers include John “Jellybean” Benitez, and Nile Rodgers. “You Can Dance” has not been available on vinyl for over 30 years, since its original release in 1987. This Limited Edition Record Store Day title will be available on Red Vinyl and also features a poster, per the original European release.

Side 1
1. Spotlight (6:24)
2. Holiday (6:32)
3. Everybody (6:31)
4. Physical Attraction (6:35)

Side 2
1. Over And Over (7:10)
2. Into The Groove (8:29)
3. Where’s The Party (7:13)

Madonna regisseert film balletdanseres Michaela DePrince

De film over het leven van Het Nationaal Ballet-danseres Michaela DePrince wordt door Madonna geregisseerd.
DePrince werd geboren in Sierra Leone en op vierjarige leeftijd geadopteerd door Amerikaanse ouders. Ze schreef samen met haar moeder een biografie over haar jonge jaren in het door oorlog verscheurde Afrikaanse land, haar latere jeugd waarin ze zich op een balletcarrière richtte en over de huidziekte Vitiligo waar ze aan lijdt.

Het boek Taking Flight: From War Orphan To Star Ballerina kwam uit in 2014. DePrince danst sinds 2013 voor Het Nationaal Ballet in Amsterdam.

"Michaela's levensverhaal sprak me aan, zowel als artiest als als activist die tegenslagen heeft gekend", aldus Madonna in een persverklaring. "Dit is een unieke mogelijkheid om de situatie in Sierra Leona te bespreken en MIchaela de stem te laten zijn van alle weeskinderen waar ze mee opgroeide."

Derde film

Het is de derde keer dat Madonna een film regisseert, na Filth And Wisdom uit 2008 en W.E. uit 2011. In 2008 schreef en produceerde ze ook documentaire I Am Because We Are, over de miljoen aidswezen in Malawi, het Afrikaanse land waar vier van haar zes kinderen uit afkomstig zijn.

Madonna wants to change the way we talk about women & ageing

A sea of fans, with their phones held high in the air, filled the cosmetics floor of Barneys in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night, all waiting to catch a quick glimpse of the biggest icon in pop music history. Dressed in a sequinned, art deco-inspired black dress and hair set in old Hollywood waves, it took me a second to notice Madonna's diamond grill, black-tipped nude manicure, or the artfully-jumbled slew of chains dangling from her neck. Fifteen minutes, a few selfies, and the anointing of one fan with her Rose Mist spray later, and the queen was back in the elevator.

I was able to catch a few minutes with Madonna on her way out of the building promoting her MDNA skin-care line and she filled me in on the unexpected beauty treatment she swears by (besides masking her bum), the phrase she's sick of hearing, and what reinvention means to her. Check it out, ahead.

On The Weirdest Beauty Treatment She Loves

"I could tell you some weird stories, but they aren't connected to beauty — and we don't have that much time! [Laughs] I'd say honey — not Manuka honey, just regular honey. You put it on your face and let it get really sticky, then you do this thing with your fingertips to pull the skin up, which [temporarily] plumps the skin."

On Ageing — & The Term She Hates

"We need to stop talking about ageing like it's something negative and, actually, I don't like the word 'anti-ageing.' Why can't we just be the age that we are and look amazing all of the time? We can, if we take care of ourselves inside and out."

On Her Everyday Beauty Routine

"Sometimes I can't travel with all this stuff or I don't have a lot of time, so the Reinvention Cream [launching in April] is my all-in-one; I use it on my legs, my arms, knees, stomach, and butt.
"I use the Rose Mist in my hair if [it] feels too dry or frizzy. I use The Serum on my knees. I squeeze the extra moisture from The Eye Masks on my elbows. The Reinvention Cream all over my body, and the Chrome Clay Mask on my butt."

On Her Favorite Reinvention

"My most meaningful reinvention was becoming a mother and all the work that I do in Africa. The important ingredient in this cream comes from the resurrection plant, which is primarily found in Sub-Saharan Africa. This plant reminds me of me: I can go forever and ever without getting any moisture, any water, and any love, and all of a sudden you sprinkle a few drops and it blossoms and opens up and flowers, and then if it doesn't get moisture it kind of goes back inside itself and hibernates. It keeps coming back and reinventing itself, so we extracted the stem cells and put it in this cream."

On What Really Drives Her

"To thy own self be true — sorry to quote Shakespeare, but if you look at the world and the people who've accomplished a lot of things in their life, who have broken the mould and changed history: It's never the people who fit in, never the people who took the road everyone took. Resistance that you get from people, not fitting in, that builds your character. You should consider not fitting in a blessing!"

Madonna on her epic Oscar parties, plus: her secret to success

In an exclusive interview, “Extra” Mario Lopez spoke to singer Madonna at the fashion-forward Barneys New York department store in Beverly Hills as she promoted the newest product in her very own skin care line!

Strike a pose there’s nothing to it... #Madonna #Icon

A post shared by Mario Lopez (@mariolopezextra) on

Madonna was back at work after a celebratory weekend. Of her wildly popular Oscars party, she said, “I had so much fun. I always tell everyone the Oscar party is work, but we have to have fun while we work. I have to create a magical environment for people to come into.”

Madonna has managed to kept herself current over several decades, but what’s her secret? She revealed, “I think it's a combination of things. I continue to be an incredibly curious person. Curiosity and being hungry for knowledge and trying new things. Taking risks is important. I’ve never been comfortable, and people have always given me a little bit of a hard time for my entire career, and in a way, that's a good thing.”

During her illustrious career, Madonna has fought to be heard. Praising the #TIMESUP and #MeToo movements, she emphasized, “I feel like I've been fighting for what they've been fighting for — I’ve been doing that my entire career. I feel like all the hard times that I’ve received have been because I'm a female. I'm glad and happy to finally have some solidarity.”

As for why she’s now living in Lisbon, Portugal, Madonna explained, “Soccer. My son wants to be a soccer player. Of all the choices we had for soccer academies, I liked this one best. I’m a soccer mom, number one!”

As Madonna showed off MDNA Skin, she pointed out, “This is not a women's skin care line, it's for everybody."

A portion of the sales from the line’s The Reinvention Cream will be going to Madonna's nonprofit organization, Raising Malawi, which provides Malawian children with one full year of schooling. She tried out the product on Mario, pointing out, "You better use it, because dry-ass skin is not good!”

MDNA Skin can be found exclusively at Barney’s New York.

Kim Kardashian en Madonna slaan de beautyhanden ineen

Madonna heeft vandaag bekendgemaakt te gaan samenwerken met Kim Kardashian.

Tijdens de lancering van Madonna's nieuwe beautylijn MDNA Skin in Barney's New York in Beverly Hills maakt de popster bekend dat ze samenwerkt met beautylijn KKW van Kim Kardashian. Madonna's beautylijn bestaat vooral uit crèmes en serums en Kim Kardashians beautylijn bestaat vooral uit make-up.

De producten van Madonna zijn al sinds 2014 in China verkrijgbaar en sinds september 2017 in de Verenigde Staten. De lijn is ontwikkeld door de dermatoloog van Madonna.

Here's Lana Del Rey's take on one of Madonna's 'Evita' classics

Lana Del Rey has recently lent her dulcet vocals to an Evita classic for the upcoming Andrew Lloyd Webber album Unmasked: The Platinum Collection. The special collection album will coincide with Webber's 70th birthday on March 16, and accompany his upcoming memoir. The pop starlet took on Webber and Tim Rice's "You Must Love Me" which was also recorded by Madonna in '96 for the film adaptation of the Broadway play.

Del Rey confessed to NME that recording the cover was a dream-come-true. “Andrew Lloyd Webber has been one of my primary inspirations in music, so to do a cover of one of his songs is a dream. I especially love this particular song, 'You Must Love Me,' because of how unique the melody is. I’ve been incredibly inspired by all of Andrew’s work from Phantom of the Opera to Evita," she explained. The album will also include covers from Nicole Sherzinger and Madonna herself.

Although this latest cover will not be featured in an actual movie, it isn't the first time Del Rey has used dipped into the world of film. She previously recorded two songs for Tim Burton's 2014 Big Eyes, including the title track, as well as The Great Gatsby's "Young and Beautiful" and "Once Upon a Dream" from Disney's Maleficent.

As far as the Broadway world, a Del Rey production might be closer than we think. The skilled songwriter recently explained in a L'Officiel USA Q&A that she's been working on writing a Broadway play along with her producer, Rick Nowels. According to Del Rey, she's been working on a musical, and while the details of such a project are left to ur imaginations for now, she revealed that the play could be finished in "two or three years."

Madonna hosts star-studded Oscars after-party, guests include Kim Kardashian and Cardi B

It's time for a party! Madonna hosted her highly exclusive Oscars after-party on Sunday, March 4. And per usual, the songstress invited many of Hollywood's hottest stars, including Kim Kardashian and Cardi B.

"Madonna was an amazing host," a source told Us Weekly. "She worked the room all night and chatted with all the guests." The source also noted that the songstress "was dancing up a storm last night! She and Margot Robbie were on the floor at one point. She spent a lot of time with Kim and Cardi B. Madonna and Cardi B are talking about a collaboration on Madonna's upcoming album."

A second source added that Cardi "performed 'Bodak Yellow' at the party. Madonna was in a great mood, bouncing around." Cardi later took to social media to confirm the news, sharing that performing at the event "was the most meaningful performance ever."

Timothee Chalamet, who dated Madonna's daughter Lourdes Leon in 2013, also attended the party. But according to the first insider, the "Call Me by Your Name" actor "kept to himself" throughout the bash. It's unclear if Lourdes attended the party as well.

Madonna also treated her guests to a photo booth fun amid the festivity. The songstress took to her Instagram account to share some pics taken inside the booth, one of which saw her posing with Kim and Cardi. "Gang-Gang," so she captioned the snap which featured them posing while peering through a ripped sheet of white paper.

French artist Jr., whose film "Faces Places" was nominated for Best Documentary Feature, also posted a slew of pictures of the guests at the party. One of the snaps saw Jennifer Lawrence and Chelsea Handler playfully posing together in the photo booth. Another featured Sam Rockwell showing off his Oscar.

Last night OSCAR party @guyoseary 👀

A post shared by JR (@jr) on

Other guests included Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Aniston, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Emma Stone, Offset, Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth and Isla Fisher.

Madonna's 'Ray of Light' at 20: celebrating her psychedelic masterwork

Inspired by motherhood and yoga, the icon reinvented herself on her most passionate album to date.

Happy birthday to Ray of Light, the masterwork that introduced the world to Cosmic Psychedelic Madonna, 20 years ago this week. Ray of Light was the queen's first proper album in four years, dropping on March 3rd, 1998, a week after she unveiled her new sound with the single "Frozen." It was Madonna's motherhood album, after giving birth to daughter Lourdes. It was her avant-techno move, with U.K. producer William Orbit. It was her spiritual-awakening statement. But Ray of Light holds up as her most soulful and passionate music ever – a libido-crazed disco-hippie mom pushing 40 and proud of it, flaunting her artiest emotional extremes. As "Ray of Light" boomed out of radios all year, with Madonna chanting her mantra – "And I feeeel! And I feeeel!" – she seemed to be feeling twice as hard as everyone else.

By all rights, Ray of Light should have been a pretentious disaster. Yet it turned out to be a new peak, setting Ms. Ciccone off on a glorious four-year run: the 1999 single "Beautiful Stranger," the 2000 album Music, the 2001 Drowned World Tour. If you're the kind of fan who reveres her as a musician first, not a celebrity, this was the hot streak of her life. You could compare it to Elvis Presley's mature phase with the '68 Comeback Special and From Elvis in Memphis. Except at 42, Elvis was dead, while Madonna was just gearing up for her next phase, where she discovered Kabbalah, converted to Judaism and started asking people to call her "Esther." Never say she isn't ecumenical.

Ray of Light is easily the most intense pop album ever made by a 39-year-old – Madonna spends these songs celebrating her newborn daughter, mourning her long-lost mother and reckoning with her messed-up adult self. She also contemplates her newfound Lilith Fair–era consciousness, going off about karma and yoga. As she explained in Billboard, "I feel like I've been enlightened, and that it's my responsibility to share what I've learned so far with the world." Ominous words from any pop star, let alone this one. But she made it feel mighty real. (Like another album we all loved in 1998: Hello Nasty, a spiritual manifesto from the opening act on her first tour, the Beastie Boys.) Even those of us who'd devoted our lives to worshipping Madonna weren't prepared for an album this great.

Strange as it seems now, people back then were mildly obsessive about the idea of Madonna being "over." Predicting the end of her career was a weirdly popular Nineties fad, like swing dancing or psychic hotlines. The semi-monthly "is she finally done?" debate kicked up every time she did something ridiculous, which she did all the damn time, from her poetic musings in the Sex book ("My pussy is the temple of learning") to her erotic thriller Body of Evidence, where she played a serial killer who specialized in humping men to death. The U.K. music mag Melody Maker, for its 1992 year-in-review issue, polled experts on the year's big question: Has Madonna turned into a pathetic exhibitionist? The wisest answer came from (of all people) Right Said Fred's lead singer: "Being an exhibitionist is only pathetic when nobody's watching you."

The queen kept expanding her sound – the Babyface collabo "Take a Bow" spent seven weeks at Number One in 1995. She also did vocal training for the Evita soundtrack. (Count me among the fans who thinks Babyface taught her a hell of a lot more about singing than Andrew Lloyd Webber did.) But it was still considered exotic to take Madonna seriously for her music, rather than her image. It took Ray of Light to change that.

Her producer William Orbit had just worked wonders with U.K. ingenue Beth Orton, on her classic folkie-techno debut Trailer Park. Madonna playfully renamed herself "Veronica Electronica," throwing in lots of what she and Orbit called "teenage-angst guitars." They set the tone in the opening ballad, an emotional powerhouse called "Drowned World/Substitute for Love." There's too many gimmicks in the mix: moody electro bleeps, wind chimes, sitar, drum 'n' bass snare rattles, Sixties string samples, a very 1998-sounding vibraphone. Yet it never feels crowded or contrived – Madonna gives herself room to breathe deep, as she sings about letting go of the past and moving on. She keeps looping back to a mantra from John Lennon: "Now I find I've changed my mind." (The Beatles' "Help," where John confessed his adult despair, was the perfect song to echo here.) When the rock guitar kicks in, at the three-minute point, it hits like a moment of pure serenity.

The goth power ballad "Frozen" was the first hit, but "Ray of Light" was the one that really summed up the new Madonna in one big kundalini disco rush. It came from the same place as the Talking Heads' similarly titled Remain in Light, about how the world moves on a woman's hips. The album's premise was trip-hop, as we called it then – the moody electro-funk sound perfected by Massive Attack, whose mind-freak opus Mezzanine dropped around the same time. (She'd worked with them in 1995 – a bluer-than-blue cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Want You.") I interviewed Massive Attack in March 1998, right after Ray came out, and naively asked if they'd noticed how much it sounded like them. Yes, in fact, they noticed. As Daddy G cheerfully told me, "I put on that first track and said, 'Here we go again.'"

The music is full of odd hooks – the Moroccan ghaita of "Swim," the bossa nova of "To Have and Not to Hold," the Britpop guitar in "Ray of Light." She makes the Sanskrit chant "Shanti/Ashtangi" sound like Devo's version of "Working in a Coal Mine." In "Sky Fits Heaven," she takes her sacred text from a Gap ad – the iconic TV spot starring bartender/poet Max Blagg and Twin Peaks siren Madchen Amick: "The sky fits heaven, so ride it!" (She even cut Blagg in on the credits.) And her spiritual pretensions were ripe for mockery – hence the brilliant parody in the Drew Barrymore flick Music and Lyrics, where the pop star shares her "Buddhism-in-a-thong philosophy."

Ray of Light sounds like an anthology of "only in the Nineties" ideas, from its coffeehouse-techno vibe to the whole notion of seeking mystic wisdom from a Gap ad. Yet the most Nineties thing about it is the way Madonna assumes you'll put in the time the music demands. It's pop designed to unfold over time, from an artist serenely confident her listeners will pay attention. If Ray of Light came out now, it would get dismissive Friday-morning quickie reviews listing the flaws of her latest rollout strategy. But because people still paid for their music in 1998, people really did put in the time to absorb it. Buying an album was an emotional commitment – walking into the store, plucking the CD off the rack, taking it into your home. You gave it a few chances before you gave up. So people stuck with Ray of Light, even if they initially laughed at it.

She picked the right moment to swerve hard into adulthood, just as a new crop of teen stars was rising. By the end of 1998, MTV's newest star was a young Madonna fan named Britney Spears. Madonna kept tarting up the psychedelia with her bizarre 1999 paisley-disco hit "Beautiful Stranger," from the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. It's Madonna at her most breezily seductive, not to mention her funniest. (It's also a righteous salute to then-incarcerated black hippie pioneer Arthur Lee and his band Love, goosing their 1966 flower-child classic "She Comes in Colors.") Music was equally masterful, except now she was into line-dancing and cowgirl hats. Yet Ray of Light still stands apart in Madonna's career. After 20 years of heavy listening, it remains the album of a lifetime.

8 reasons why Ray Of Light remains Madonna’s best album

It’s the album which ensured the reigning Queen of Pop would stay on her throne for at least another decade.

It introduced us to the signature whooshes and bleeps of a production genius and won four Grammy Awards, spawned five UK Top 10 singles and sold 16 million copies worldwide. 20 years ago to the day (March 2) since it first hit the shelves on this side of the Atlantic, here are eight reasons why Ray of Light remains Madonna’s greatest ever album.

The element of surprise

Although Madonna was far from a spent force in early 1998, it was largely assumed that her all-conquering heyday was well behind her. It had been four years since the underrated Bedtime Stories had underwhelmed in the charts, and the release of ballads compilation Something to Remember and her starring role in the big-screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Evita suggested that she was now settling into the inoffensive housewife-friendly phase of her career. It’s why the double whammy of Frozen’s song and video – the former a cinematic electro-ballad with a cutting-edge production, the latter a moody, gothic affair directed by Aphex Twin favourite Chris Cunningham – came as such a welcome surprise. Just like she’d done before, and like she’d do again, Madonna proved that you write her off at your peril.

The inspired choice of producer

While modern day Madonna has found herself chasing trends, old-school Madonna was renowned for setting them. Before Ray Of Light came along, William Orbit was a relatively unknown musician who had released several albums of ambient electronica to critical acclaim but few sales. After the album, Orbit became an in-demand super producer whose studio talents would be utilised by everyone from Blur and U2 to Pink and All Saints. It’s not hard to see why he became so popular, with his swirling mix of techno, trip-hop and electronica proving to be the perfect foil for Madonna’s exquisite pop melodies and mature musings on loss, love and motherhood. Ray Of Light sounded like nothing Madonna had recorded before and cemented her status as the master of reinvention.

The title track

Frozen undoubtedly helped Ray Of Light shift the kind of first-week numbers Madonna hadn’t seen in a decade. And its title track kept the momentum going, pushing the album to a worldwide sales total of over 16m. A pulsating dance anthem based on a forgotten 1971 song from English folk duo Curtiss Maldoon, Ray Of Light thrills from start to finish, whether it’s the pounding techno beat, the euphoric chorus (famous for its mistaken ‘Anna Friel’ lyrics) or the frenzied finale where Madonna’s celestial vocals spiral wildly out of control. And it also resulted in one of Madonna’s most joyous live outings to date, a feel-good and vocally on-point performance on The Oprah Winfrey Show which inspires the entire audience to sing and move along.

The opening track

Like a Virgin, Into The Groove, Express Yourself, Like A Prayer, Vogue, Hung Up… Madonna has such a wealth of bona fide hits that it’s almost impossible to single one out as the best. But you can make a strong case for one of her most subtle and slow-burning, and indeed smallest (it only peaked at No.10 in the UK), chart entries to be given such an accolade. One of those rare meditations on the pressures of fame which doesn’t resort to self-pity, Substitute For Love/Drowned World is an achingly honest affair in which Madonna admits she ‘traded fame for love’ and ‘got exactly what I asked for’, but one which also admits that she now wants to change her ways. Brilliantly setting the scene for what lies ahead, the opening track is also exquisite too, from the slightly disorienting ambient intro (complete with ghostly spoken words) to the breathtaking middle-eight (‘no one night stand, no far off land’) which showcases Orbit’s box of studio tricks at its best.

Its lyrics

Drowned World wasn’t the only time where Madonna got deeply personal on Ray Of Light. Closing track Mer Girl sees her reflect, in rather vivid style, on the death of her mother (‘And I smelled her burning flesh/Her rotting bones, her decay’), while the beautifully shimmering Little Star is one of those rare tributes to an offspring (in this case, Lourdes) which doesn’t drown in schmaltz. Whereas Madonna had previously cultivated a cold and aloof persona, Ray Of Light saw her embracing a warmer and more confessional direction which proved that pop superstars also have feelings too.

The imagery

Madonna has arguably never looked better than she did during the campaign for Ray Of Light. Shot by famed photographer Mario Testino, the cover – featuring Madonna and her windswept strawberry blonde hair posing in front of a calming turquoise backdrop – brilliantly complements the Earth Mother vibe that encapsulates the record. The album’s accompanying promo videos all pulled off a similarly sophisticated style too, from the geisha girl imagery of Nothing Really Matters to the time-lapse footage of Ray Of Light to the blue-tinged dramatics of The Power Of Goodbye.

Its spiritual vibes

Alarm bells usually ring when an artist declares they’re going all spiritual, but Madonna managed to interweave her new-found interest in Kabbalah into Ray Of Light without sounding all preachy. Indeed, from the daring adaptation of a Hindu Sanskrit prayer (Shanti/Ashtangi) to the spiritual leanings of Sky Fits Heaven and Swim, the album’s otherworldly vibes felt authentic and natural rather than someone simply jumping on the latest fashionable religion bandwagon.

It extended Madonna’s pop legacy

Like her fellow ‘80s pop superstars Michael Jackson and Prince, Madonna had initially failed to reach the same commercial heights in the 1990s, and her stint as the undisputed Queen of Pop looked to be coming to an end. But Ray Of Light gave her a new lease of life and undoubtedly helped to prolong her reign until the double whammy of the disappointing Hard Candy and Lady Gaga’s arrival in the late ‘00s. Without Ray Of Light, we might not have had another ten years of glorious pop, from the playful electro of Music, to the unfairly-maligned Bond theme Die Another Day, to the inspired ABBA-sampling disco of Hung Up.

Interview: Patrick Leonard Talks Madonna, Leonard Cohen, and Instagram Fame

One of the first adjectives people will often use when describing Patrick Leonard is “humble.” The veteran composer and producer has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Madonna, Michael Jackson, Leonard Cohen, Pink Floyd, and Fleetwood Mac. And yet he’s incredibly modest about his résumé, always shifting the focus back to the music.

A year ago, Leonard’s public profile grew when—at the urging of his son, who’d read an interview in which Madonna questioned whether her longtime collaborator was on Instagram—he joined the social media app. Fans of the Queen of Pop flocked to his account, and soon Leonard was performing a sold-out show at Joe’s Pub in New York, playing instrumental versions of the songs he wrote with Madonna for fans of his that he didn’t know existed a year earlier.

“For the first time ever I’m investigating my old work and seeing if I can bring something to the fans who are obviously very loyal to it,” Leonard told me over the phone during a break from recording in his Los Angeles studio. In October, Leonard took a hiatus from his newfound Instagram fame to start work on a new album, his first in over 20 years. The album, which he says will likely be released in two volumes, is composed of newly recorded versions of those famous Madonna songs, performed with some of the original musicians, including guitarist Bruce Gaitsch and bassist Guy Pratt. A Kickstarter campaign for the album will launch in the coming weeks.

I chatted with Leonard about the album, electronic music, the late Leonard Cohen, and, of course, his work with Madonna, including Ray of Light, which was released 20 years ago this week.

Was it a surprise to learn that you’re, at the very least, a beloved figure among Madonna fans?

It was a bit of a surprise. I certainly expected that people knew my name associated with her, but I didn’t realize that I was held in such high esteem by so many. A very pleasant surprise.

Looking back at Ray of Light, 20 years later, how do you think it holds up?

I think it holds up really well. I looked at the songs [from the album] I was gonna do at Joe’s [Pub] and felt the innovation of it and just how good [co-producer] William Orbit was at that time. It’s still apparent. Very innovative, and sonically very interesting.

One of my favorite songs you co-wrote for Ray of Light is the B-side “Has to Be,” which was included on the original tracklist for the album, but it was swapped out for another song last minute. It’s such a beautiful, heartbreaking, almost ambient ballad about self-love.

You know, I haven’t listened to the original demo of that one yet. I wish I could remember how it went. You mind if I YouTube it?

[Laughs] Not at all.

Oh, yeah, I remember now. I think I hear a Juno [Roland synthesizer]!

Tori Amos has covered several Madonna songs in concert, and her recent rendition of “Frozen” is really haunting and beautiful. Have you heard it?

I haven’t. I think Tori’s wonderful, but I don’t go looking for those things. It has to literally be put in front of me. This isn’t a comment on Tori, because again I haven’t heard it, but oftentimes when people do covers, they don’t know the center of it. Maybe they have their own sense of the center, but my sense of where the plumb line is—a single line and everything’s built around it—that knowledge and sense of where that line actually exists is different for [the songwriters] than anyone else. And so, usually when I hear other people’s versions, I’m flattered that they think it’s a good enough piece of music that they want to represent themselves with it. I’m honored at that level.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Madonna songs she’s chosen to cover—“Live to Tell,” “Like a Prayer,” and “Frozen”—are ones you co-wrote.

Yeah. This is an assumption, but Tori probably chose those songs because she’s a pianist and they were written on piano.

Oh, good point.

They’re all pianistic.

Another seminal Madonna album you worked on, Like a Prayer, turns 30 next year. One of my favorite songs on the album is “Spanish Eyes.” It’s so different tonally from the two previous Latin-influenced songs you wrote with Madonna, “La Isla Bonita” and “Who’s That Girl.” It’s darker and more mysterious.

The way we worked on Like a Prayer, and other records as well but particularly Like a Prayer—we wrote a song a day. I wrote this thing, at the piano again, and at the top of it, it says “tango.” She came in the morning [and] listened to it, [wrote] the lyric, put a guide vocal down, and went home. [laughs] What I always believed was good about our collaborations is that the spirit of the composition was always very closely reflected in the sentiment of the lyric, and the spirit of it as well. So if there was a darkness about [the music], that gave her an opportunity for the lyric to go there. And even something like “Till Death Do Us Part”—which had an uncomfortableness about it and yet it felt all bubbly and perky, but it wasn’t. And I always thought that was a great lyrical position, to have it be this really dark…not really dark, but you know—

It’s pretty dark!

Yeah, a tremendous amount of conflict. But you feel like you can skip rope to it.

Like a Prayer is easily her most organic album in terms of the live instrumentation, but “Till Death Do Us Part” is an exception. It’s a very synth-based track. What’s your relationship to electronic music? I know you’ve posted videos on Instagram where you’re experimenting with patching different modular synths and things like that.

I started playing piano really, really young. But I took jazz lessons, and I took classical lessons. And I started playing in rock bands when I was about 10 years old. So I have a really strange potpourri of a background. But I also, from the very beginning of my career as a keyboardist, had synthesizers. They’ve always been very present for me. I’m making this record now of Madonna songs and a lot of the gear I’m using is the same gear I used on [Madonna’s 1986 album] True Blue, and interfacing with new modular stuff. And what I like to do is—I like to then bring in players to play on top of it. Playing along with “machines” presents another challenge.

Madonna’s work with producer Nellee Hooper on her 1994 album Bedtime Stories is sometimes credited as a precursor to Ray Of Light, but “I’ll Remember” [co-written and produced by Leonard] is also quite electronic. The drum programming is so complex and expressive—almost pointillistic.

It’s also [drummer] Jonathan Moffett. [laughs]

Really? How do you create that sound?

Necessity’s the mother of invention, right? Like, this morning I’m working on a modular program version of [Madonna’s 1990 single] “Hanky Panky,” which is absolutely sick. There’s many layers to [creating that sound]. One is that the precision necessary to do it—when you force a human to that sort of precision, you get something vital. When you just do it and you chop it up on a computer, it sounds cool, but you don’t get that person sweating—

That’s the expressiveness I’m talking about.

Yeah. It forces somebody to the edge of their abilities, and in doing so, you get a human energy that I really enjoy. It’s not as accurate as it sounds; it’s not as pristine as the impression that it gives you. But part of that is that the sequence is running; your body’s taking in something that feels metronomic, it feels like a clock, while there’s things breathing inside of it.

These days Leonard Cohen is probably the artist you’re most closely associated with, since you worked on his three final albums. What was that songwriting process like?

Unlike with Madonna, he didn’t dabble in the music and I wasn’t gonna try to dabble in the lyrics. He would send me a lyric and I would work on the music. Some of them we worked on many, many, many versions, which also differs from Madonna. What Leonard was looking for was the perfect setting for the poem that didn’t interrupt the verse that he had written—because obviously that was king, and deserved to be. So those records were a bit of an exercise in staying out of the way.

I understand that your performance at Joe’s Pub last fall was a bit serendipitous for you.

It was just sweet that [Cohen] performed there and his poster was on the wall just above the stage. It hadn’t been that long since he had passed, so it was nice to see him hanging on the wall.

Watching over you.


What did you learn from him?

Oh, that’s a big question. A lot—as a person, and a tremendous amount as an artist. Methodology, process. How does a mere mortal get to a place where the lyrics are what his lyrics were, are, will always be. How do you get there? And his process is different than anyone else I’d seen, and anyone else I’d ever worked with. And I found it beautiful, and I incorporate it theoretically, in principle, all the time now. Once you see something like that you’re a fool not to see what you can do to learn from it. I’ll miss Leonard forever.

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