Paul McCartney said that this song is a tribute to women everywhere. It was inspired by a photo of a woman in Vietnam suckling her child
, over the caption "Mountain Madonna." The photo appeared in the January 1965 issue of National Geographic as part of an article called "American Special Forces in Action in Viet Nam."
"She looked very proud and she had a baby," McCartney told the magazine. "I saw that as a kind of Madonna thing, mother and child."
The piano arrangement was lifted from a '50s jazz classic: "Bad Penny Blues" by Humphrey Lyttleton.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney took imitation to a high level, often going into character as some of their favorite musicians when they crafted songs. When McCartney started playing the boogie-woogie piano on this track, he thought of Fats Domino, specifically his 1956 song "Blue Monday," and crafted the song in Domino's style. The Fat Man recorded the song himself later in 1968.
Like Domino's "Blue Monday," this song runs through the days of the week ("Tuesday afternoon is never ending..."), as Lady Madonna's toil repeats without end.
Four British jazz musicians were brought in on short notice to play the saxophone parts. They were augmented by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison singing through their cupped hands to fake the rest of the brass section. They ended up sounding a little like chickens, but it added a quirky feel to the song.
The Beatles recorded "Lady Madonna
" at the same time they were recording its promotional film. In the video for this song, The Beatles are actually singing "Hey Bulldog" (for the most part). They went in to shoot "Lady Madonna" and John changed it at the last minute to "Hey Bulldog." If you watch the video montage for "Madonna" closely, there's even footage from the Get Back
sessions thrown in.
McCartney stated in the book The Love You Make
that while singing "Lady Madonna" he used what he characterized as his "Elvis voice."
Mike - Cambridge, MA
This was the last Beatles release on Capitol Records (US), or Parlophone (UK). All future releases were on Apple Records, the label The Beatles created.
A version sung by Aretha Franklin was used as the theme song for the TV series Grace Under Fire. The show starred comedian Brett Butler and ran on ABC from 1993-1998. For the last season, they used a different theme song.
Every day of the week is mentioned in the lyrics except Saturday.
Mike - Mountlake Terrace, WA
Paul McCartney designed the ads for the single.
This was one of five Beatles songs McCartney performed on his Wings Over America tour in 1976.
This was the only Hot 100 hit with "Madonna" in the title until 2015, when Madonna's "Bitch I'm Madonna
" made the tally. In 2006, Robbie Williams charted in the UK with "She's Madonna
In 2020, Paul McCartney said this is his go-to song when he is warming up on the piano.