Exclusive Interview: Madonna Looks Back on Career With 'Celebration'
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Billboard journalist Larry Flick spoke with Madonna recently, surrounding the release of 'Celebration,' and is sharing the results of that one-on-one interview exclusively with PopEater. In the conversation, the Queen of Pop opens up about her favorite Madonna songs, her desire for more children, what's next on life's checklist and why even she needs reminding of all she's accomplished.
'Celebration' is about to come out. This is your third greatest hits album, but you're not the look-back girl, are you?
So, does it feel weird that everyone's so excited about revisiting your old songs?
No, I'm not thinking that way. I'm happy that people want to hear my old songs. I've written some good songs!
Do you ever listen to them, yourself?
I try not to [laughs]. Actually, sometimes, I do. But the thing is that I'm on tour right now, and I'm doing some of those old songs. Inevitably, I'm going to be sicker of the songs that I'm singing every night. It's nice to revisit songs that I haven't heard for a while, and I think, "Yeah that was a good song. I like that."
What song are you feeling really good about right now?
I like 'Beautiful Stranger.' That's a good one.
Are there are any song that you don't want to celebrate?
No. They are all a part of me, and an aspect of me, or a pivotal moment for me -- even if they're not necessarily pivotal in a big, public way for me. I can certainly pinpoint what was going on in my life at that time. They're sign-posts.
Is there one song of yours that you think is perfect?
I certainly have songs that I feel resonate more and speak truthfully more about me than others. Like 'Don't Tell Me.' Or 'Like It or Not.' Also, 'Live to Tell' would be one too.
Do you ever stop and think, "I sure got a lot done"?
[Laughs] Sometimes. That would require free time!
You're not the sit-around girl, either, are you?
No, not much. Not with kids and a job. Every once in a while, I have a moment of reflection. It's usually because I'm forced to look back at it from somebody else's point of view ... or if someone does a retrospective of my career. Then I go, "I did all that?" It's usually someone else reminding me.
You have a knack of writing songs that are pointed and political, but also for writing songs that are carefree and fun. Which do you think hit people stronger?
People who are more politically aware and want to be inspired like songs like 'American Life,' and people who just want to have a good time will like my more let's-have-fun kind of music. I think people are in different moods at different times. I'm in different moods at different times.
What kind of music are you listening to a lot these days?
I'm listening to a lot of electronic music.
Do you still like going clubbing?
Yes, but I certainly don't go clubbing when I'm on tour, because it's not really good for me. You can't talk loud after shows and stuff in smokey nightclubs
Being on the road sounds like a military operation. How long does it take to get ready for you to go on tour? For you physically?
First, I start to train for several months, just to get my cardiovascular endurance up so that I can sing and dance at the same time. Then putting the show together and figuring out the choreography and experimenting. Then I spend hours and hours with my band and my dancers and my choreographer and my director. It just becomes an endurance test. So by the time the show is put together, I'm physically ready, just from doing it over and over for months.
At what point do you say "stop, get me outta here, this is too hard"?
Right about now. [Laughs] We did the tour for 4 months, and then we took a break. And now we've been on the road for a couple of months. It feels like a good time to end it. I'm ready to have another creative experience. I don't know how people go on the road for 18 months and do the same show. I couldn't do it.
Tell me about the working on the track 'Celebration' with Paul Oakenfold. What was it about working with him that was interesting to you?
Paul's done so many remixes for me. We've collaborated on a lot of music, just because of that. Plus, he's been opening for me on most of this tour, and we've hung out together a lot. He's played at parties I've thrown. I like his energy. I like his ability to make people get up and dance. He knows how to work a crowd. He's a very positive person, himself. I heard some of the production that he's done with other artists, and I decided to experiment with him.
The video features your daughter, Lourdes. How did that happen?
She hangs out with the dancers a lot. She's a dancer, herself. The video is about the celebration of music and dance. There's an improvisational moment when we're all in a circle and each dancer does their specialty or a special move that they do well. She wanted to do hers, so she did.
Were you comfortable with her doing the video?
Yeah. She really wanted to do it. It's just a little moment.
Are you getting an inkling that she wants to follow in your footsteps?
No. I don't think she wants to be a singer. I think she wants to be an actress.
How do you feel about that?
I'm fine with it, as long as she finishes school, and takes it seriously. She also plays piano, and she's really into clothes and fashion and style. She can go in any direction. She's got a lot of diverse interests right now. We'll see. I'm not pushing anything. We'll see what she wants to do.
She always seems so poised.
Yeah. She's grown up in the limelight, for sure. She's been protected, but she's been chased by the paparazzi since she was a tiny baby.
How is she dealing with being the big sister? Is she protective?
She's super-sister. She's amazing with the little ones. She has the typical relationship with her brother, Rocco. They're like "I love you"/"I hate you" every five minutes. But with the two little ones, she's great. She's amazing. Very protective.
Are you going to be a Mom to any more kids?
Who knows? [Laughs]
Is that something you'd like?
[More laughter] Y'know, I have my hands full right now! I have no idea! That's all I'm going to say. But we never say never.
That's a good thing! What do you imagine your next record is going to sound like? Have you thought about it yet?
Not really. I love electronic music, so I'm sure that I'll keep doing something in that area. But I don't know who I'm going to work with yet.
What next on your life checklist? What are you hoping to get done?
I have several projects going. I have another script that I've written, and I want to direct another film. Hopefully, I'll be doing that next year. I also have many, many projects going on in Africa right now that I want to bring to fruition, like building a girls school and working on two new documentaries that I want to make. So, I've got lots of projects going.
Could you ever imagine that your life would turn out this way?
It's pretty awesome, isn't it?
It's insane. I'm very lucky. I feel truly blessed.
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