In our interview with Billy Steinberg
he told the story of this song: "My father was a farmer. He was a grape grower in the Coachella Valley and our vineyards were in a little town called Thermal, California. I had a rock band called Billy Thermal and we were signed to Planet Records, Richard Perry's label. That band had just split up, so I was working out in the vineyards with my dad.
I remember writing the lyrics to 'Like a Virgin' while driving in a red pickup truck that I owned around our dusty desert vineyards. I had been involved in a very emotionally difficult relationship that had finally ended and I had met somebody new. I remember writing that lyric about feeling shiny and new - I made it through the wilderness, somehow I made it through - I made it through this very difficult time.
I took that lyric to Tom, he knew what I had gone through. He read those first lyrics and he sat down at the piano and tried to write a sensitive ballad to them. He'd come up with a few interesting things, but every time we got to the chorus lyric where it said, 'Like a virgin,' it just hit a brick wall - how can you write a tender ballad called 'Like a Virgin'? It just sounded ridiculous. Whereas it was him prodding me with 'True Colors' to finish the lyric, with 'Like a Virgin' I was the one prodding him, saying, 'No, no, no, let's not put this one aside because this is a very special lyric.'
I didn't want to let it fall by the wayside. At that time Tom and I were writing rock songs. Tom had this voice that was not unlike Lou Gramm
(from Foreigner). Tom had that kind of voice - very high, very powerful range. Out of nothing more than utter frustration, Tom started to play the bass line to 'Like a Virgin' and sing the lyric falsetto to this bass line he was playing. I said, 'That's it!' He stopped and went, 'What?' and I said, 'That's it, that's the song.' He couldn't imagine because he had this style of singing that was usually based on that male rock thing. I think he was trying to imagine doing a falsetto, almost Motown inspired vocal and I said, 'Yeah, that's it.'
He went along with it and agreed that that's how the song was working. We did a demo where Tom sang the song falsetto and I added a few background vocal parts. Tom didn't like me to sing because he never liked my singing. He sort of indulged me and I added a few little parts that ended up being used on the Madonna record."