1985: a good year for Madonna, and for songwriter Jon Lind '69

In 1985 Madonna starred in Desperately Seeking Susan. She was on the cover of Rolling Stone. And “Crazy For You,” her first hit ballad, reached Number 1 on Billboard, bumping “We Are the World.” It was also a good year for Jon Lind ’69, who co wrote “Crazy For You.” In 1983 Lind was early in his career with Warner Brothers Music Publishing when he got the assignment to co-write a song for the movie Vision Quest. The recording artist: a mostly unknown Madonna who had yet to release her first album.“I didn’t know a thing about her,” Lind says. He read the script and wrote the melody on his acoustic guitar. “I had the chorus and the title. I didn’t have a plot, or much else.” 

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Lind already had one big hit under his belt, Earth Wind & Fire’s 1979“ Boogie Wonderland.” And for the Madonna song, he had a proven lyricist in co-writer John Bettis, who’d written “Top of the World” for the Carpenters. Inside Lind’s Hollywood home, Bettis pulled out a legal pad and wrote, “Swaying room as the music starts.” Lind didn’t like that first line; he found it too hard to say. Bettis suggested, “Let’s come back to it.” Four hours later, pleased with their work, they returned to the first line. Bettis told a still-skeptical Lind, “Trust me.” A few weeks later they met Madonna in the studio. She seemed awkward and uncomfortable, and the song as she recorded it “was not warm, fun or inspirational,” Lind says. “It was not good.” After the session Lind and Bettis walked to a Mexican restaurant and ordered tequila shots and beer. Failure seemed certain. Flash-forward 58 weeks. “I’m in abar, Joe Allen’s, and a woman comes over from across the room.” She said “Crazy For You” was going to be the next single for Madonna, by now a pop culture sensation. Lind’s reaction: “Impossible.” But as he soon learned, the original recording had been scrapped and replaced with a recut, entirely different version. “And it was awesome,” he says. Lind went on to co-write “Save the Best for Last,” a 1993 Grammy nominee for Song of the Year. He became head of A&R at Hollywood Records. Now semi-retired, he often meets young song writers who ask how hecame up with a line as great as “Swaying room as the music starts.” To Lind, the line proves a lesson he’s carried with him since the writing session with Bettis: trust your collaborators. Today, Vision Quest is long forgotten. “Crazy For You,” from the first line to the last, has stood the test of time. E.G.B.

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