Why? Hello — you’re a songwriter!
I don’t know. I think it’s good to be mysterious. Creativity is sometimes unconscious, subconscious, conscious — and often it’s a mixture of all three. And to try to explain it sometimes — it’s like talking about love, you know? As soon as you start talking about it, you’ve formed a new opinion about it, and it’s obsolete. And I don’t really want to dissect my creative process too much. Because what’s the point, really? I want people to have visceral and emotional reactions to things, rather than to have in their mind where all my stuff came from. You know, if I see a bug crawling across the floor, and it inspires me to write the most incredible love poem, I don’t want people to be thinking about a relationship or something, and then think of my bug crawling across the floor. Sort of like totally ruins everything [sighs]. I don’t know — does that make any sense?
It does. But I need something here. How about telling me the most out-there source of inspiration for a song?
OK. The song “Music,” the hook of the song — “Music makes people come together, and music makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel” — do you know where I got that idea?
I do not.
At a Sting concert. Weird, isn’t it? OK. I went to see him in New York at the Beacon Theater. He has a pretty mixed audience — I always look at audiences when I go to concerts. I’m obsessed with checking out the audience and seeing how they react. And people were pretty well-behaved and enthusiastically polite for stuff that he was doing off of his new album.
But then, when he did the old Police songs — and it was just him and a guitar, and the lights came down — somehow the energy in the room changed. It ignited the room, and it brought everybody closer to the stage. And suddenly, people lost their inhibition and their politeness,and everyone was singing the songs and practically holding hands — you know what I mean? I mean, it really moved me. And I thought, “That’s what music does to people.” It really does bring people together, and it erases so much. And so that’s how I came to the hook of that song.
“Music” was leaked on Napster way before its release. Any thoughts?
There’s not much to say, honestly. I think it’s blown out of proportion. They downloaded a portion of “Music” before I’d even mixed it. It was astonishing. I have no idea how they got it. It was still in such a beginning stage. And it freaked me out, because I suddenly thought, “Oh, my God. If they got that, then they have other things on my record that aren’t finished.” And that’s really scary.
So, basically, I made — well, my manager made — a public statement saying, “Anything that you’re hearing on Napster, or anything on any other Web site, is unfinished product.” Simple as that. And then suddenly it was in every headline: “Madonna is against Napster.” I mean … I don’t take that sort of a stance. I feel covetous about my work, and I don’t want people to hear it until it’s finished. At the same time, I think, to a certain extent, the trading of information is inevitable. And, on the other hand, Napster could be a great way for people to hear your music who wouldn’t have the chance to hear it on the radio. So that’s what I have to say about that. Really, I want to strangle the person who got ahold of it. I don’t know — I can’t control everybody [laughs].
Your song “Impressive Instant” perfectly captures the druggy euphoria of a good club — that sense of abandon.
Mm-hmm. Yeah. I mean, I suppose there is a drug-addled sensibility running through that song. I mean, we all have that side to us. I’d like to go out, too, and draw up some E and stay out for two days — but I can’t. Can I? [Laughs] No, because I have to think about the repercussions. And also, I don’t feel like feeling like shit for a week. So that’s what stops me.
You have done E before, though, have you not?
Yeah, but not for a couple decades. I did E in the early Eighties when it first appeared on the club scene.
Do you remember liking it?
Definitely. But I’m not a good person for drugs, because I don’t have the constitution for it. Every time I’ve done anything, I’m bedridden for weeks and feeling like I have the flu — having aches and hurts. And I’m too into physical fitness.
What’s the longest you’ve refrained from doing anything physical?
This last week — for about a week.
A whole week of no exercise? You?
I’m not allowed to. The doctor wanted me to stop. Can’t you see the aura of depression around me? The despair that I languish in? I hate it. I started having minor, minor contractions and strange feelings. And I went to the doctor, and she’s like, “OK, you have to take it easy for the last month.” I’m like, “For a whole month?”
This is certainly new. There are even reports that you eat fish and chips. And Doritos.