Scent of a woman
Excited fans rushed into stores in spring 1989 to grab their copy of Madonna‘s fantastic new album ‘Like A Prayer‘ hot off the press and zooming up the charts. Lurking within the shrinkwrap of the LP, Cassette and CD copies wasn’t just some of the best music ever recorded, or an informative leaflet explaining the danger of AIDS to our society. Oh no, there was also something a little more…sensual as well!
For included in the printing process of all batches of the first pressings of Madonna’s new album was a healthy sprinkling of scent! Those first in line to buy the album were treated to a strong aroma of patchouli oil when they pulled out the LP’s inner sleeve or flicked through the CD and Cassette booklet.
Patchouli oil is made from the leaves of a shrub native to Malaysia and when collected, the oil essential to the plant produces a rich amber coloured liquid.
The reason for the inclusion of the patchouli has never been made public knowledge, but with all things Madonna, it’s likely the idea was that of the woman whose name was stamped on the record’s sleeve. One can only wonder at the reason this idea was taken – patchouli was originally brought into popular use in the 1960s hippy era as it covered the smell of burning cannabis! It also features in over a third of today’s retail perfumes.
Being an album of songs so heavily dominated by the various masculine influences on her life, maybe Madonna thought the use of the oil included in over half of all today’s male aftershave products would add a little depth? The more poetic among us may think perhaps Madonna thought its pungent, musty aroma would help create the atmospheric ambiance a listener should enjoy whilst listening to songs about romantic yearning for Spanish fighters. Maybe it was the closest aroma she could find to that of incense in order to recreate the experience of going to confession, as with the songs that open and close the album…? Who knows!
However, this wasn’t the first time Madonna and daubed her discs in perfume! Back in the heady days of her Like A Virgin era, the clever wags at Sire Records‘ New York marketing department hit upon the genius idea of dousing promotional copies of her new 12″ single ‘Material Girl‘ in Chanel No.5 to try and convince radio pluggers to promote the swanky new release from pop’s hottest new star.
Whatever the reasons – you are more likely to find a copy of Like A Prayer which still whiffs of patchouli than of the Material Girl promo… unless you want to, ahem, enhance your own copy in the privacy of your own home
Thanks to Torontoboy for the inspiration for today’s fact – hope the hangover’s not too severe Dave…