Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In 80s Music, June 7th

On this day in 1986: Madonna went to #1 on the U.S. singles chart with “Live To Tell.” It would spend one week in the top spot.

“Live to Tell” is a song from her third studio album ‘True Blue.’ It was released as the lead singles from True Blue on March 26, 1986, by Sire Records. Originally composed by Patrick Leonard for the score of the film “Fire With Fire’, the instrumental was shown to Madonna, who decided to use it for then-husband Sean Penn’s film ‘At Close Range.’ Madonna wrote all the lyrics, co-composed the melodies and co-produced it with Leonard.

A pop ballad, the song includes instrumentation from guitars, keyboards, drums and a synthesizer, and its lyrics deal with deceit, mistrust and childhood scars. It is also about being strong, which Madonna recalled in an interview that she thought about her relationship with her parents while writing the lyrics. The music video, directed by James Foley, shows Madonna’s first image makeover, featuring her with a cleaner look, shoulder-length wavy golden blond hair, conservative wardrobe and subtle make-up. This toned down blond appearance was inspired by Marilyn Monroe, an actress Madonna had previously been influenced by.

“Live to Tell” was generally well received by music critics, who frequently referred to it as the best ballad of her discography. The song was also a commercial success, becoming Madonna’s third #1 single on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and her first #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Here’s a look at the Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1986:

1 2 LIVE TO TELL –•– Madonna (Sire)-9 (1 Week at #1) (1)
2 3 ON MY OWN –•– Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald (MCA)-12 (2)
3 1 GREATEST LOVE OF ALL –•– Whitney Houston (Arista)-11 (1)
4 5 I CAN’T WAIT –•– Nu Shooz (Atlantic)-14 (4)
5 6 ALL I NEED IS A MIRACLE –•– Mike + The Mechanics (Atlantic)-12 (5)
6 4 IF YOU LEAVE –•– Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (A&M)-14 (4)
7 7 SOMETHING ABOUT YOU –•– Level 42 (Polydor)-17 (7)
8 11 CRUSH ON YOU –•– The Jets (MCA)-9 (8)
9 13 THERE’LL BE SAD SONGS –•– Billy Ocean (Jive)-8 (9)
10 15 A DIFFERENT CORNER –•– George Michael (Columbia)-7 (10)

11 9 BE GOOD TO YOURSELF –•– Journey (Columbia)-9 (9)
12 12 MOVE AWAY –•– Culture Club (Virgin)-10 (12)
13 8 IS IT LOVE –•– Mr. Mister (RCA)-11 (8)
14 19 NO ONE IS TO BLAME –•– Howard Jones (Elektra)-9 (14)
15 17 NOTHIN’ AT ALL –•– Heart (Capitol)-8 (15)
16 22 HOLDING BACK THE YEARS –•– Simply Red (Elektra)-10 (16)
17 23 I WANNA BE A COWBOY –•– Boys Don’t Cry (Profile)-10 (17)
18 25 WHO’S JOHNNY –•– El DeBarge (Gordy)-7 (18)
19 10 WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY –•– Janet Jackson (A&M)-16 (4)
20 14 WEST END GIRLS –•– Pet Shop Boys (EMI-America)-15 (1)

On this day in 1987: David Bowie played a concert in West Berlin in front of the Reichstag with the speakers pointing towards the nearby Berlin Wall where thousands of young East Berliners stood and listened.


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