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In June of 1985, this pop music icon had just finished her Virgin tour, her first-ever arena level tour, which featured the pre “Licensed To Ill’ Beastie Boys as openers and solidified her as an A-list pop figure.
At the time, she was married to Sean Penn. They’d made it official on her birthday in 1985, just after she’d finished the Virgin Tour. She had collaborated on a song she thought would be good for a movie called ‘Fire With Fire’, a 1986 romance about a girl at a Catholic boarding school falling in love with a boy in a prison camp.
But when she heard Paramount Pictures wasn’t interested in the song, she decided that it would be great for the movie Penn was making, called “At Close Range”, in which he played a soulful and conflicted son in a family of criminals in rural Pennsylvania.
That movie was a box-office failure — though not as big a failure as Shanghai Surprise, the notoriously awful movie that she and Penn made together later in 1986. But today’s song took off anyway.
When she released it as a single, she was still working on her third album True Blue, which wouldn’t come out until a few weeks after this song hit #1, meaning that when this song was at its height, it wasn’t even available on an album. You had to buy the single.
On her 2006 "Confessions" tour, today’s singer, who was forever pushing boundaries, performed this song while suspended from a giant cross and wearing a crown of thorns.
As you might expect, this caused a great deal of controversy and angered certain religious groups. When NBC aired a special of Madonna's concert, they refused to show the cross scenes. An uncut performance is available on her Confessions Tour DVD/CD collection.
She later told Rolling Stone : "When I performed [today’s song] on a cross, I was supporting Jesus, paying homage to his message, which is to love your neighbor as yourself, to treat people with dignity. The Christians didn't like that."
Madonna...Live to Tell...I Know That Song
Also...At Close Range is a great movie with Christopher Walken!