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Madonna Interview : SongTalk

Interviewer: Do you have any technique for staying in shape creatively?

Madonna: Yeah, just living. Just experiencing life, being really open and observant.

Interviewer: Is it tough for you, being one of the most famous people in the world, to stay open and observant?

Madonna: You can be open and observant in any situation. I mean, in a work situation, watching people on a set of a movie or whatever. I mean, humanity is everywhere. There are endless possibilities of ways to absorb the information.

Interviewer: You and Prince wrote “Love Song” together, which is a wonderful song. Did you and he work together or did he give you a track?

Madonna: No, he didn’t give me a track. We sat down and just started fooling around. We had a lot of fun. What happened is that he played the drums and I played the synthesizer and we came up with the original melody line; I just, off the top of my head, started singing lyrics into the microphone. And then he overdubbed some guitar stuff and made a loop of it and sent it to me, and then I just started adding sections to it and singing parts to it. And then I sent it back to him, and he’d sing a part to it and add another instrument and send it back to me…it was like this sentence that turned into a paragraph that turned into a little miniseries. So it was great. It was a completely different way to work. And because of our schedules and everything, and he was in Minnesota and he likes to work there and I like to work here. So we kind of sent it back and forth. He’s great. He’s a real interesting…unique talent.

Interviewer: And it was an easy connection from the beginning for the two of you?

Madonna: Yeah, it was. We started out being real admirers of each other’s work. And, you know, we’re already successful so we didn’t have to prove anything to each other. We were on the same level. And I don’t think he’s had that same opportunity with other people that he’s worked with. Because generally he tends to dominate everything.

Interviewer: “Act of Contrition,” the closing track of Like a Prayer, has backwards masking and other mysterious elements. Did he have anything to do with that one as well? The credits only say, “Produced by the powers that be.”

Madonna: Yeah, he did. He played guitar on it. He also played guitar on “Keep it Together.”

Interviewer: I noticed on “Act of Contrition” that you have the choir from “Like a Prayer” reversed on that.

Madonna: Yeah, we turned the tape and played everything backwards.

Interviewer: Your idea?

Madonna: Yeah. And then, of course, the whole thing, the saying of the prayer (on “Act of Contrition”) and everything, that was totally conceived of in the studio, in the control room. Pat put out a microphone, and I just started fooling around; and that was free-form, too. Whatever was on my head. It’s totally unedited.

Interviewer: You, Prince and Michael Jackson were all born in the same year, 1958–

Madonna: I know. Isn’t that weird? And I think Michael’s birthday is right near mine, in August…there are so many Leos in my life. I’m August 16.

Interviewer: The three of you have had such an enormous effect on popular music. Yet recently it seems that both Prince’s and Michael Jackson’s connection with the world has weakened while yours has strengthened and become more intimate and personal. Do you feel that?

Madonna: Yes. I think because I stay in touch with the world, and I think that Michael Jackson and Prince have really isolated themselves. And they live very isolated lives. There’s so much fearfulness and so much inhibition that comes with when you become a celebrity and you’re in the public eye all the time; I think you really have to fight that temptation to go into hiding and surround yourself with people who protect you and keep life out from you. I don’t want to live that way. I don’t want to crawl into a hole. I don’t want to go around with six bodyguards, you know?

Interviewer: You don’t wear disguises or anything?

Madonna: No, no. I go running everyday in my neighborhood. People bother me all the time, but it’s important for me to stay in touch with–it sounds cliched–with the street. I go to movie theaters. I can’t deal with separating myself that way. I didn’t struggle my way out of Michigan so I could crawl into a hole.