Interviewer: In that song you also say, “I lay down next to your boots and I prayed…” Which kind of reminds of me of Tom Waits. Are you an admirer of Waits’s work?
Madonna: Oh, I love Tom Waits. I’ve always loved him. He’s great. He’s a great performer. I love watching him.
Interviewer: What other songwriters do you enjoy listening to?
Madonna: Prince. He never ceases to amaze me. I’ve heard all the tracks off of his next album that he hasn’t released yet and they’re incredible. Stephen Sondheim, who I worked with for Dick Tracy. I never really appreciated his stuff because I didn’t pay that much attention to them (his songs). And having to learn his songs, which are unbelievably complex. I just have the utmost respect and admiration for him. An incredible songwriter. Incredible.
Interviewer: Complex musically and lyrically?
Madonna: Oh, yes. There’s not one thing that repeats itself. It’s just unbelievable. When I first got them, I sat down next to him and he played them for me, and I was just dumbfounded. And then, forget about making them my own, just to learn to sing them–the rhythmic changes and the melodic changes–it was really tough. I had to go to my vocal coach and get an accompanist to slow everything down for me. I could hardly hear the notes, you know what I mean? So it was a real challenge. And they definitely grew on me.
Interviewer: So you eventually mastered them?
Madonna: I think so. When we ended up recording them, I think Stephen was very pleased.
Interviewer: You’re an actress, a dancer, a singer and a songwriter. Can you say what the most powerful art form in your life is?
Madonna: God, it’s tough. I like visual arts. I’d have to say music even though I love movies and dramatic arts. Music is the most accessible art form. And I think everybody relates to music. It is completely universal and therefore the most powerful for me, too.
Interviewer: Do you have a favorite song of your own?
Madonna: (Pause) No, I don’t like to say that. It’s like having ten children and saying I have a favorite child. It’s not fair.
Interviewer: You wrote “Lucky Star” alone. Did you write it on guitar?
Madonna: No, I wrote in on synthesizer.
Interviewer: Yeah? You say you’re not a musician and yet you play guitar and keyboards.
Madonna: I know, but I’m lazy and I don’t practice because I’ve gotten involved with so many other things in my life, and I just had to make a sacrifice. Of course, Stephen Sondheim encourages me to start playing the piano again. Maybe I will.
Interviewer: Do you remember hearing “Like a Virgin” for the first time?
Madonna: I though it was sick. I thought it was sick and perverted and that’s why I liked it.
Interviewer: And that appealed to you?
Madonna: Yeah! Sick and perverted always appeals to me.
Interviewer: And it sounded like a song you could pull off well?
Madonna:Yeah. Because there were so many innuendos in it. I thought, “This is great. This will really screw with people.”
Interviewer: You like that, when people get upset?
Madonna: Yeah, controversy. I thrive on it.
Interviewer: You’ve certainly generated a lot of it. After “Like a Virgin” there was “Papa Don’t Preach” and, of course all the controversy surrounding your video for “Like a Prayer.”
Madonna: It’s not really that I thrive on it. It’s that I think it’s necessary. I think art should be controversial. I think it should make people think. About what they do believe in and what they don’t believe in, and if they don’t believe in it, that’s good too. I mean, everything is just kind of opium for the masses. It puts people in a trance. I think it’s good to hit people over the head with this stuff and make them question their own beliefs.
Interviewer: Is is hard to get an album scented with patchouli?
Madonna: (laughs) Yes, it is. I had to work hard for that.
© SongTalk Magazine