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Madonna Interview : Smash Hits

Madonna - Smash Hits / June 28 - July 11 1989

Writing Songs
“Lots of times Pat Leonard will come up with a piece of music like ‘Oh Father’ – we did very little to change it musically – he throws the music at me and I just listen to it over and over again. And somehow the music suggests words to me and I just start writing words down. Other times I will come to Pat with an idea for a song, either lyrically or emotionally and say ‘Let’s do something like this’ or I’ll have a melody line in my head which I will sing to him and he will sort of pound out the chords. It takes a lot longer to do it that way because I don’t play an instrument but ultimately it’s a lot more personal. Then with Steve Bray its the same thing. Sometimes he’ll come up with a track and he’ll have a verse and chorus but he won’t have a bridge (the bit in a song between the verse and the chorus) so we’ll write the bridge musically together.”

The Oddness That Is Prince
I think Prince lives a very isolated life and I don’t, and that is the big difference between us. And I just try to be a positive influence on him I’ve always been a fan. I think he’s incredible and I also admire his… he’s very courageous and he causes lots of controversy too which is great… and I think he is a brilliant musician. We’ve gotten together a couple of times in the hope of working with each other in some way. Originally we were going to do a musical together and we were going to write the music for it – that didn’t really pan out. We just kept getting together. He seemed to fight the idea of just writing songs for a record together because he’s done that with so many people. He came to see me in the play I did last summer in New York and he, just for the hell of it, put together a tape of some rough things that we’d done in all of our meetings that we’d had. “Love Song” was one of the songs and I just said “You know, this is crazy, it’s such a great song – why not put it on the record?” It seemed to relate to all the other songs because it’s about a relationship that’s a hate/love relationship. So he agreed to it and we kind of sent the tapes back and forth to each other and we’d keep building it. It was like he would write a sentence and I would add on to it and then send it back to him and he would continue the story, basically. It was fun. I played the keyboards myself and because I don’t know that much, it kind of came out strange and interesting.”

Her First Boyfriend
“My first boyfriend was when I was, I guess… gee, I think 14 or 15. I fell in love with a boy named Russell. He was the only boy who would dance with me at school, because I was really wild at the high school dances and I danced completely insanely and all the guys were afraid to ask me to dance with them because I basically ignored them anyway. But Russell was a wild dancer and he was a couple of years older and he was more sophisticated and… so he was the one who had the courage really. So he won my heart, because he wasn’t afraid of me…” (In earlier interviews she has talked about her first boyfriend as being a bloke called Ronny Howard with the white blond hair who was “so beautiful” that she “wrote his name over my sneakers and on the playground – I used to take off the top part of the uniform and chase him around.”)

Unwisely going to see David Bowie
I can t remember who I saw first, Elton John or David Bowie, but I was punished for seeing both of them because the Arena was a really dangerous part of downtown Detroit and it really wasn’t the place for young girls to be going unescorted, which we all were. I think I lied to my father and said I was spending the night at my girlfriend’s and then I went off to the concerts and both times my father called and found out that I’d gone to the concert I think I got grounded or something. Like, one summer I wanted to go away to camp or something, and I wasn’t allowed to because I went to see David Bowie. But it was worth it. I borrowed a long black velvet cape from my girlfriend – who knows what I had underneath it? – and I made a grand entrance. And that was the most important thing.”

God
“I had my own ideas about God and then I had the ideas that I thought were imposed on me. I believe in God. I believe that everything that you do comes back to you, I believe in the innate goodness of people and the importance of that.