Liz: [from the background] No, I’m not joking!
Ingrid: No, no, we–tell her we haven’t started on the album! There’s no way!
Madonna: [to Liz] It’s okay. [to Ingrid] Dor worry, she just left.
Ingrid: There’s no way!
Ingrid: To me, you have always stood for freedom: freedom of expression, freedom to do what you want, to dress the way you want, to sing what you want. The fight in Africa is less about the freedom to something and more one from something–the freedom from fear, the freedom from hunger. Has this affected your understanding of freedom?
Madonna: [sighs] Well, I think freedom is funny word because when we think we’re free we’re not really. I think freedom is quite illusion. When you’re worrying about where your next meal is going to come from, you can’t afford 1 think about your attachments to physicality. You can’t start thinking about your ego. You’re just like, “I need some food. And I need a roof over my head. And I’m sick and I need medicine. When you’re in that position, you don’t have the luxury of thinking about the freedoms that we have, so that’s one kind of freedom. When you live in the world that we live in, and you have luxuries that we have and the privileges that that we have, you don’t have to worry about basic needs and you can start thinking about, What am I slave to? What am I trapped by? Am I really free? Just because I can get on a jet an fly wherever I want and I can afford this and I can afford that–is that real freedom? It’s like I said in my speech at the fundraiser, “What is being the best? What is real happiness?” When I stop caring what people think of me, I;ll be able t say, “Well, I’ve learned to care less, but I’m not totally free of it.” That’s freedom. When I sto thinking about myself all the time and put other people before me on a regular basis, that’s real freedom. When I can love unconditionally–and have conditions with everybody, whether it’s ny husband or my children or my friends or my co-workers-then that’s real freedom. So it’s something to strive for, but I’m not free.
Ingrid: Your lack of freedom certainly doesn’t show in the new record. Let’s go back to the song “Four Minutes.” Justin Timberlake and Timbaland had something to do with it, right?
Madonna: Yes, we worked together.
Ingrid: The song feels like a ballad for the world, with a great big marching band. It’s a giant dance song.
Madonna: Well, it’s kind of a funny paradox. is like we’re saying, “We’re running out of time. People, wake up. But, if we are going to save the world, can we please have a good time while we’re doing it?”
Ingrid: [laughs] That’s great. And the video, I understand, plays with this idea of superheoes trying to save the world. It feels like it has irony, but it’s also really serious.
Madonna: Yeah, it’s like a march. It’s a movement, and we want to take everybody with us.
Ingrid: This song will. I love the line “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” in the middle of it all. Did you have fun making it? It really feels like it.
Madonna: I really enjoy writing with Justin. he’s a fun person to write with.
Ingrid: Is this the first song you did with him?
Madonna: No. We worked on other songs first. We kind of had psychoanalytic sessions whenever we wrote songs. We’d sit down and we’d start talking about situations. And then we’d start talking about issues or problems or relationships with people. That was the only way, because you know, writing together with somebody is very intimate. So we had to find a place to start talking about something we cared about, so we could get into writing about something we cared about. And that was fun, because he’s open and he’s got talent. He’s a songwriter. I haven’t worked with a lot of songwriters where I’m instantly connected and start riffing and playing with the rhythm of words. He’s as interested in the rhythm of words as the meaning of words.
Ingrid: I love the tic-toc, tic-toc part.
Madonna: I enjoyed that process with him.
Liz: [in the background] Next question!
Ingrid: Tell her we’ve only done one song. We gotta have four more questions.
Madonna: [to Liz] She’s only asked one question about the record. She wants to ask four more questions.
Liz: [in the background] Well, she gets one more.
Madonna: [sighs] She’s very mean. [both laugh] So, go ahead, ask me another.
Ingrid: Okay. Let’s go to “Give It to Me.” I picture the entire island of Ibiza dancing to that one.
Madonna: Oh, really? Oh, good. I like the idea of everybody in Ibiza dancing to “Give It to Me.” [laughs]