Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Don't Tell Me by Madonna
Album: MusicReleased: 2000Charted:
This was written by singer/songwriter Joe Henry, whose wife Melanie is Madonna's sister. Henry went to high school with Madonna and has a good relationship with her, but rarely tries to pitch songs to her. When Henry's wife heard this song, she took it to Madonna, who turned it into a dance hit.
Henry's original version has the same lyrics, but is called "Stop" and is more of a Tango. It appears on his 2001 album Scar
In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Joe Henry explained: "I've got good friends who knew both versions of the song and it never occurred to them that it was the same words going by. It's been a really good lesson as a songwriter because I'm very lyric-oriented, but I realized when that song happened for her - she had a big hit with it - that it really doesn't matter what you're saying as long as the groove is convincing."
Henry added: "I thought the song was a complete throwaway. I had just moved and set up a studio in the guesthouse of my home and was looking to record anything to make sure my things were working. I needed something to record, so I wrote that song in about 25 minutes just to give myself something to do. I was a little embarrassed by it, it starts off a little spoon-in-June and takes a cryptic turn at the end. I thought it was a trifle, but in the right hands, a trifle has turned into some very handsome shoes that I'm wearing."
For Henry, this was a financial windfall, as he received royalties on Madonna's recording, in the same NPR interview, he said: "It had been a complete abstraction to me to see back end on anything. But I found I'm very adaptable."
Speaking with Interview magazine about this song in 2001, Madonna said: "To me it is a romantic song. Just, you know, rip my skin off, do not tell me who I should love, or how I should love. Don't tell me to give up. To me, in a way it's like that Frank Sinatra song, 'If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere.'"