Song of the Day #4,791: ‘Take a Bow’ – Madonna

Madonna suffered a fair amount of backlash after her Sex book and Erotica album were deemed offensive by the pearl-clutchers. A controversial appearance on Late Show with David Letterman, heavily censored due to profanity and subject matter, didn’t help.

As a result, 1994’s Bedtime Stories was positioned as a mea culpa. In a promotional video, she promised “no sexual references” on the new album, and a return to the “innocent” Madonna of the past. Holding her co-writer’s daughter on her lap, she promised to be a “good girl.”

The marketing approach was partially tongue-in-cheek bullshit, but also partially true. Bedtime Stories is far less overtly sexual than Erotica, showcasing a softer side of Madonna’s personality and music.

But on fourth single ‘Human Nature,’ she wrote openly about the misogynistic criticism she received for exploring healthy sexuality:

“You wouldn’t let me say the words I longed to say / You didn’t want to see life through my eyes / You tried to shove me back inside your narrow room / And silence me with bitterness and lies / Did I say something wrong? / Oops, I didn’t know I couldn’t talk about sex / Did I stay too long? / Oops, I didn’t know I couldn’t speak my mind”

It’s a great song, and a welcome middle finger to the patriarchy.

The rest of Bedtime Stories is memorable for the very good songs ‘Secret’ and ‘Take a Bow,’ but its slinky R&B sound is not my taste. Apart from the three standout tracks, I admire this record more than enjoy it.

Commercially, Bedtime Stories outsold Erotica, moving eight million copies worldwide and 2.5 million in the U.S.

[Verse 1]
Take a bow, the night is over
This masquerade is getting older
Lights are low, the curtains down
There’s no one here
(There’s no one here, there’s no one in the crowd)
Say your lines, but do you feel them?
Do you mean what you say when there’s no one around?
(No one around)
Watching you, watching me, one lonely star
(One lonely star, you don’t know who you are)

[Chorus]
I’ve always been in love with you (Always with you)
I guess you’ve always known it’s true (You know it’s true)
You took my love for granted, why, oh, why?
The show is over, say good-bye
Say good-bye (Bye-bye)
Say good-bye

[Verse 2]
Make them laugh, it comes so easy
When you get to the part where you’re breaking my heart
(Breaking my heart)
Hide behind your smile, all the world loves a clown
(Just make them smile the whole world loves a clown)
Wish you well, I cannot stay
You deserve an award for the role that you played
(Role that you played)
No more masquerade, you’re one lonely star
(One lonely star and you don’t know who you are)

[Chorus]
I’ve always been in love with you (Always with you)
I guess you’ve always known it’s true (You know it’s true)
You took my love for granted, why, oh, why?
The show is over, say good-bye

I’ve always been in love with you (Always with you)
I guess you’ve always known it’s true (You know it’s true)
You took my love for granted, why, oh, why?
The show is over, say good-bye
Say good-bye (Bye-bye)
Say good-bye

[Bridge]
All the world is a stage (World is a stage)
And everyone has their part (Has their part)
But how was I to know which way the story’d go?
How was I to know you’d break (You’d break, you’d break, you’d break)
You’d break my heart?

[Chorus]
I’ve always been in love with you
(I’ve always been in love with you)
I guess you’ve always known
You took my love for granted, why, oh, why?
The show is over, say good-bye
I’ve always been in love with you (Always with you)
I guess you’ve always known it’s true (You know it’s true)
You took my love for granted, why, oh, why?
The show is over, say good-bye
Say good-bye (Bye-bye)
Say good-bye

[Outro]
Say good-bye

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,791: ‘Take a Bow’ – Madonna

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Im familiar with today’s SOTD, but had to go seek out “Human Nature.” I’m not sure who was influencing who, but I hear elements of Brittany Spears and George Michael in that song.

  2. willedare says:

    So interesting to find this inhouse clip of Madonna talking to folks who would be promoting and distributing her latest record/CD! I will note that she chose to wear a leather studded choker around her neck while making it. I am guessing that she would not have had to make such a video if Erotica had sold in huge numbers — but the combination of low sales + cultural controversy (I guess) meant that she had to do something more generally palatable as a follow up… Thank you for some history/context along with the music!

  3. Amy says:

    https://youtu.be/XPL_qGqSJxA I don’t remember the songs from this album all that well, but I do remember the video. Oh, how I loved Madonna’s videos!

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