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Patrick Leonard explains how he composed hits with Madonna

Does Madonna write her own songs? Yes, and no. She doesn’t write the music, that’s for sure. And now that Ms. Ciccone has been put up for induction in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, I thought it might be interesting to settle the question after all.

Last night I chatted with Patrick Leonard, the great composer of pop hits and sometimes even a ghost writer and ‘enabler’ for rock stars who need help getting their work onto paper. Leonard is a trained musician who can play anything at the drop of a hat. On the phone, from Amsterdam, where he’s working with Leonard Cohen, Patrick played 'Like a Prayer' for me in different sections. He wrote the music for that hit, as he did for many of Madonna’s big hits during her top of the chart heyday.

Patrick Leonard wrote the music for, among others: 'Like a Prayer,' 'Cherish,' 'True Blue,' 'Live to Tell,' 'La Isla Bonita,' 'Frozen,' 'Hanky Panky,' 'Sky Fits Heaven,' 'Nothing Really Matters,' 'I’ll Remember,' and 'Something to Remember.' He was a producer on 'Open Your Heart.'

Madonna wrote the lyrics, Leonard says, with him, and helped create the melodies. He considers her a friend and mentor. 'She put me on the map,' he says, 'I’m grateful.'

'I’m one of those people behind the curtain.' Leonard says. 'If she [Madonna] hadn’t sung those songs, no one would have heard them. She’s made it possible for me to do what I’m doing now.'

Their process was simple. He wrote the music, and brought it to Madonna. She would help supply lyrics and offer changes in the music to suit her. 'She’d refine it,' he says. 'You give her a track, she sings the melody. She’s very very talented.' Of their collaboration, he says, 'One doesn’t exist without the other. She always showed up and she was always completely involved. I miss her, actually.'

They haven’t written together since 1997. Would he like to do it again? 'Absolutely,' Leonard says. 'She writes a lot with deejays now.'

Leonard is credited on all the songs he wrote with Madonna. They include the largest number of chart hits on which she is credited as co-writer. There are no songs that are credited just to Madonna. And a clutch of them were written solely by others including 'Holiday,' 'Like a Virgin,' 'Material Girl,' and 'Borderline.'

Leonard told me he didn’t care if Madonna goes into the Songwriters Hall of Fame without him. He doesn’t believe in awards. He doesn’t even hang his gold records. 'They’re all in a closet somewhere,' he said. He just believes in moving forward. This week he comes to New York to work with Roger Waters.

From / Roger Friedman


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Best thing that happened to her was meeting Patrick, wonder how she managed that.


It was Patrick who gave Madonna Respect and Moxie among the Rock Crowd-Proof of this-Live to Tell-Her best song to this day! MADONNA FOREVER! A BEAUTIFUL ROCK QUEEN!!

Any letter of the alphabet you choose, except T

@T: whilst GMAYL scraped into the Top 10 in the US (#10) last year, Madonna has not had a Billboard Hot 100 US #1 since 2000. THIRTEEN years. Hardly impressive for an icon. Even in the UK - one of her most loyal and best performing markets - she has not had a UK #1 since 2088, with some of her singles not even charting (i.e reaching the Top 100) at all.

If that is not in decline, then I don't know what is.

No, Madonna's income is now all about tours (as is the case with many old acts, admittedly), so watch those ticket prices SOAR for future concerts, as fewer and fewer fans attend.


It has become very clear through Madonna's music lyrics over this past decade that she really needs the assistance of decent songwriters (ie Pat Leonard, Stephen Bray, Shep Pettibone) to help her. I wish Madonna had people in her inner circle that were honest with her.

Madonna did so well for the first 20 years of her music career because she had the help of songwriters, you think she would have realized this already.


T: The last time you checked must've been back in the 80s, when No. 10 WAS considered huge.


The hits stopped coming? She just had a top 10 last year.

Last time I checked, top 10 was a 'hit'.

Rolls eyes.


There have also been many comments over the years how Madonna has 'muscled in' on a song with which she had no initial connection, and then changed a few notes or lyrics (in one case, apparently, a single word!) and then demanded a songwriting credit.... kerching! Google it, if you don't believe me!


Part of Madonna's downfall from the radio and the charts was her not working with Patrick Leonard anymore. The hits just stopped coming.


why is Patrick talking to that renowned hater of madonna? - that was quick of friedman, getting this interview to try and undermine her achievements solely because of being nominated for that hall of fame stuff.

The Lion

She might consider working with him for the next album. Working with William Orbit again did not prove very satisfactory to critics (not to me, I think MDNA is an excellent album, especially the songs she did with Orbit) but maybe Pat Leonard can help her reach that coveted Number 1 spot once again...


An album with him onboard would be fantastic.


Nice interview and insights. Patrick Leonard is my favorite Madonna collaborator. I think her songwriting was at its best when working with him.

P. Scearce

Roger Friedman is incorrect when he states matter of as a matter of fact that:

"There are no songs that are credited just to Madonna."

Here are a listing of songs (per Discogs, ASCAP, and my own collection as written by Madonna:

"Don't You Know" off of the Stephen Bray Collection Pre-Madonna (later re-written as "Stay" for Like A Virgin (w/ Stephen Bray)
"Lucky Star", "Burning Up"*, "I Know It", "Think of Me", and "Everybody"* off the first album *listed as written by Madonna on the Stephen Bray Collection Pre-Madonna
"Shoo-Bee-Doo" off of Like A Virgin
"Gambler" from Vision Quest
"Hey You" credited as both Writer and Producer (Mirwais played guitar on the song)


I didn't realise pat worked on the ray of light album.i miss him :( Id love her to work with him again--ditch the dj's!!!her songs with him were amazing-they obviously work well together.xx

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