On this day: March 26: 'Live To Tell' single is released (1986)

Live To Tell
March 26, 1986
The 'Live To Tell' single is released
Live To Tell
Single by Madonna
From the album True Blue
Released: March 26, 1986
Format: 7", 12", CD single
Recorded: December 1985
Genre: Pop
Length: 5:52 (album version), 4:37 (radio edit)
Label: Sire, Warner Bros.
Writer(s): Madonna Patrick Leonard
Producer(s): Madonna, Patrick Leonard
"Live to Tell" is a pop ballad by American singer-songwriter Madonna. Originally written by Patrick Leonard for the soundtrack of the film Fire with Fire, the song was shown to Madonna, who decided to use it for then-husband Sean Penn's film At Close Range. It was produced by Leonard and Madonna for her third studio album True Blue, released in mid-1986, later appearing as a remix on the 1990 compilation album The Immaculate Collection, in its original form on the 1995 ballads compilation album Something to Remember, and most recently on her third compilation album Celebration (again in its original form), released in September 2009.
The song includes instrumentation from guitars, keyboards, drums and a synthesizer, and its lyrics deal with deceit, mistrust and childhood scars. It is also about being strong, which Madonna recalled in an interview that she thought about her relationship with her parents, while writing the lyrics. The music video, directed by James Foley, shows Madonna's first image makeover, featuring her with a cleaner look, shoulder-length wavy golden blond hair, conservative wardrobe and subtle make-up. This toned down blond appearance was again inspired by Marilyn Monroe.
Released as the album's first single in March 1986, the song was a commercial success. It became Madonna's third number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and her first number-one on the Adult Contemporary chart. It was generally well received by music critics, who frequently referred to it as the best ballad of her career. The song faced controversy when Madonna performed it on her 2006 Confessions Tour wearing a crown of thorns while hanging on a giant mirrored cross. The performance at Rome's Olympic Stadium was condemned as an act of hostility toward the Roman Catholic Church by religious leaders.
Background and writing
After Madonna finished The Virgin Tour, she asked producers Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray to write some songs with her and produce her third studio album, True Blue (1986). "Live to Tell" was originally written by Leonard for the soundtrack of Paramount's romantic drama film Fire with Fire. "My managers represented the guy who was directing the film; it was his first film. I saw a little piece of the film, and I had the script. I wrote a theme and I said, 'What if I could get Madonna to write the lyrics for it?'", said Leonard.
However, Paramount rejected the song, believing that Leonard was incapable of creating the score for the film. It was then that Leonard presented the song to Madonna. She decided to use it for At Close Range, the new film of her then-husband, actor Sean Penn. Madonna wrote the lyrics of the song onspot, and made a demo recording on a cassette. She presented the song to the film's director James Foley, who after hearing the track, decided to enlist Leonard as the person to write the score for the film, as per suggestions by Madonna.
Leonard was working with Michael Jackson, on some transcriptions for his Bad album, when Penn called him at the home of Foley. There he got to know that Madonna had suggested he write the score for At Close Range, and had also asked who was going to sing "Live to Tell", since the song was written from a man's perspective. Leonard, although he had initially envisioned a male voice interpreting the song, decided to use Madonna as the main vocalist and used the demo version as the main vocal with backup drums only. He later recalled that "it was so innocent and so shy. It's as naive, as raw, as raw can be and that's part of what gave it all its charm." In a 1986 interview, Madonna said that the mood on the song was inspired by a different facet of her image makeover and her desire to focus on something different.
"Live to Tell" is a pop ballad, with background instrumentation from a keyboard, a synthesizer, a funk guitar and a mix of synthesized and real drumming. According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Alfred Publishing, the song is written in the key of F major, is set in common time and moves at a moderate tempo of 112 beats per minute. The song starts with an instrumental introduction, performed by a synthesizer with the bass pedals set on D minor. Then the key suddenly changes to its relative major, F.
Madonna's vocal range spans two octaves, from G3 to G5. As she begins to sing the first verse, the bass pedal changes to C major, changes back to F during the chorus, and back to D minor during the chorus closure. This process is repeated during the second verse and chorus, which abruptly ends in a silence, with only the low and lifeless sound of the synthesizer, set in D minor. Madonna then starts to sing the bridge (or middle part) — "If I ran away, I'd never have the strength" — between the tonal keys of D and F, closing with the repetition of the chorus until the song gradually fades out.
Lyrically, "Live to Tell" portrays the complexity of deceit and mistrust. The song is also about childhood scars and had an extreme emotional pitch. According to the book The Heart of Rock & Soul by Dave Marsh, the archetype of songs like "Live to Tell" is The Platters' song "The Great Pretender". In an interview about the song, Madonna said, "I thought about my relationship with my parents and the lying that went on. The song is about being strong, and questioning whether you can be that strong but ultimately surviving."

Music video

In December 1985, Madonna starred in the film Shanghai Surprise, where she toned down her appearance, inspired again by Marilyn Monroe. Madonna held the look for the "Live to Tell" video. In it her make-up was pale and subtle, her shoulder-length hair was wavy and golden blond, and her clothes consisted of a simple 1930s-style floral dress. In an interview with music critic Stephen Holden from The New York Times, she commented about her new look:
"After a while I got sick of wearing tons of jewelry—I wanted to clean myself off. I see my new look as very innocent and feminine and unadorned. It makes me feel good. Growing up, I admired the kind of beautiful glamorous woman—from Brigitte Bardot to Grace Kelly—who doesn't seem to be around much anymore. I think it's time for that kind of glamor to come back. In pop music generally, people have one image. You get pigeonholed. I'm lucky enough to be able to change and still be accepted. If you think about it, that's what they do in the movies; play a part, change characters, looks and attitudes. I guess I do it to entertain myself."
In addition to At Close Range, Foley also directed the song's video. David Naylor and Sharon Oreck were in charge of the production. The video serves as a publicity campaign for the movie, as it includes brief scenes of the film that indicate the conflict the young man in the movie—played by Sean Penn—feels.
The locations in the film are separated visually from the shots of Madonna, who is singing in a darkened studio. Unlike her previous videos, Madonna portrays a narrator, whose song comments on the story, appearing in shots completely different from the narrative action. She appears to speak for the character, addressing his problems directly, like the chorus of a classical tragedy.

Live performances

Madonna wearing an orange blouse and a crown of thorns, while performing 

"Live to Tell" hanging on a mirrored cross, in her 2006 Confessions Tour.
Madonna premiered the song at a benefit concert at Madison Square Garden to raise money for medical research for AIDS. She dedicated the song to the memory of her friend, artist Michael Burgoyne. Madonna has since performed the song on three of her world tours. In 1987, during the Who's That Girl World Tour, she performed the song standing motionless in a single spotlight, wearing a black ensemble with tassels, golden tips and ribbing, designed by Marlene Stewart. Two different performances of the song on this tour can be found on the videos: Who's That Girl – Live in Japan, filmed in Tokyo, Japan, on June 22, 1987, and Ciao, Italia! – Live from Italy, filmed in Turin, Italy, on September 4, 1987.
Three years later on her Blond Ambition World Tour, Madonna evoked Catholic images during the performance. She wore a black kaftan and a neon crucifix, while singing on a confession bench, with Roman columns and a platform full of votive candles in the background. Two different performances were taped and released on video, the Blond Ambition – Japan Tour 90, taped in Yokohama, Japan, on April 27, 1990, and the Live! – Blond Ambition World Tour 90, taped in Nice, France, on August 5, 1990.
Madonna's performance of the song was the subject of controversy during the 2006 Confessions Tour. She was raised from the floor hanging on a mirrored cross wearing a red blouse and velvet pants, with a crown of Thorns on her head. During the performance, the number 12 million flashed above her on the stage's backdrop screens, along with images of African children. This was intended to detail the estimated number of children who have been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic in Africa.
German prosecutors in Düsseldorf threatened to sue her for blasphemy, and Protestant bishop Margot Käßmann said that "maybe the only way an aging superstar can attract attention is to offend people's religious sentiments." The Russian Orthodox Church and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FJCR) described Madonna's performance as amoral, and urged all members to boycott her upcoming concert in Moscow. The performance at Rome's Olympic Stadium—located near the Vatican—was condemned as an act of hostility toward the Roman Catholic Church by religious leaders. Italian cardinal Ersilio Tonini called the concert "a blasphemous challenge to the faith" and a "profanation of the cross", also calling for Madonna to be excommunicated. Reverend Manfredo Leone described it as "disrespectful, in bad taste and provocative".
Muslim and Jewish leaders also criticized the performance. Mario Scialoja, the head of Italy's Muslim League commented "I think her idea is in the worst taste and she'd do better to go home." Riccardo Pacifici, the spokesman for Rome's Jewish community said "It's a disrespectful act, and to do it in Rome is even worse." Madonna released a statement about the controversy:
I am very grateful that my show was so well received all over the world. But there seems to be many misinterpretations about my appearance on the cross and I wanted to explain it myself once and for all.
There is a segment in my show where three of my dancers 'confess' or share harrowing experiences from their childhood that they ultimately overcame. My 'confession' follows and takes place on a Crucifix that I ultimately come down from. This is not a mocking of the church. It is no different than a person wearing a Cross or 'Taking Up the Cross' as it says in the Bible. My performance is neither anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous. Rather, it is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another and to see the world as a unified whole. I believe in my heart that if Jesus were alive today he would be doing the same thing.
My specific intent is to bring attention to the millions of children in Africa who are dying every day, and are living without care, without medicine and without hope. I am asking people to open their hearts and minds to get involved in whatever way they can. The song ends with a quote from the Bible's Book of Matthew: 'For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you took care of me and God replied, "Whatever you did for the least of my brothers... you did it to me.'
Please do not pass judgement without seeing my show.
Formats and track listing
U.S. / Canada / Germany / U.K. 7" single
"Live to Tell" (Edit) – 4:37
"Live to Tell" (Instrumental) – 5:49
U.S. / Canada / Germany / U.K. 12" maxi-single
"Live to Tell" (LP Version) – 5:49
"Live to Tell" (Edit) – 4:37
"Live to Tell" (Instrumental) – 5:49
Germany / U.K. CD Maxi Single (1995)
"Live to Tell" (LP Version) – 5:49
"Live to Tell" (Edit) – 4:37
"Live to Tell" (Instrumental) – 5:49


Click below for the full set of Madonna Instrumental/Karaoke videos 

Madonna Instrumentals Karaoke





thanks for the instrumentals!!!!!!!!!!

Live to tell

I love this song! classic!

New comment