Living In a Material World
Among Madonna‘s best known songs there’s one that stands out for several reasons. Material Girl not only
reached the #2 position in the Billboard chart in 1985, or started the “Madonna-Marilyn” comparison due to the video, but is also the track that gave the Queen Of Pop, that nickname the press still loves to use today… the Material Girl.
Today we would like to investigate on how the song came to life, with the help of our friend Discoguy from the www.disco-disco.com site who had the chance to interview one of the authors of the song, Peter Brown. Here are the excerpt regarding Madonna and Material Girl from his interview to Brown that can be read in full HERE.
Q: Any special memories you can tell about in each of your different roles (as above)? Any special Writer memories like something special you remember from writing or recording some special song…
The one memory as a song writer that stands out for me is the song ‘Material Girl’. Most songs are a combination of inspiration and hard work. It often takes a long time to get a song just right. At times it can be quite excruciating. ‘Material Girl’, however, came to me in a flash while I was driving my car. I heard the whole thing in my head like a finished record, complete with music and even some lyrics. I started singing it as I drove and realized very quickly that I had something special. I forced myself to keep singing it and not become distracted and forget it completely, which has happened to me before. When I arrived home I ran into my studio and quickly recorded it into a small recorder to capture it forever.
As a recording artist I suppose my best memories are of the people I was able to work with. Writing a hit for and spending time with Madonna, stands out of course. Having Dan Hartman join me singing background vocals for my album was great fun.
Then there was the completely unexpected, late night visit while I was recording in Miami by Eartha Kitt. To this day I’m not sure why she decided to drop in.
I’ve had the opportunity to meet people like Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald and Quincy Jones, to name a few. I couldn’t ask for more wonderful memories.
Q:Let’s get back to Madonna and “Material Girl”. Was this song specially written for her? I think “Material Girl” was one of the songs that really made Madonna become a top artist – so how did it feel to have helped launched her career, when looking on how influential she is in the music business today?
PB: Although Material Girl came to me like a bolt from the blue, it was, in fact, written for Madonna. I had been trying to come up with songs for her for a week, with little success. Then, as I mentioned before, I started singing this song while I was driving in my car. It simply fell into my brain and I began singing it mentally. I heard the whole thing. All I had to do then was to remember it until I got back home. Then I made a demo of it, finished the lyrics with Robert Rans and had Pat Hurly sing the vocals.
Naturally, it felt great for her to decide to do the song and have it appear on the album that really skyrocketed her to national fame. I remember it was the holiday season and I sent it to her on a cassette wrapped like a Christmas present. It still amazes me that to this day, almost twenty years later, the press will still refer to her as the ‘Material Girl’. And since I wrote that song, regardless of anything else I’ve done in the music business, I am inevitably recognized, recalled or introduced as the guy who wrote ‘Material Girl’.
Q: DJ and Remixer Jellybean remixed your songs “They only come out at night” and “(Love is just) the Game” off the SNAP album. Have you got any memories or comments on him or the remixes?
PB: I didn’t know John “Jellybean” Benitez very well. The only time I spent with him was when he did the remix of ‘They Only Come Out At Night’ in New York. He was, of course, considered one of the best remix guys around and I let him do whatever he wanted with the song. As I recall, he didn’t make any very big changes to the original tracks. But the song did make it to # 1 on the dance charts.
After the remix session John, Madonna, Freddy DeMann, Madonna’s and my manager at the time, and I went out to dinner together and then went to a Michael Jackson concert. The evening ended at Michael’s post concert party in his hotel suite at the Helmsley Palace. As you can imagine it was quite an evening. I flew back home to Chicago the next day and that was about the extent of my time with ‘Jellybean’.
This interview is © Discoguy and is presented here on MadonnaTribe.com with the kind permission of the copyright holder.