There's an Indian song on the album ('Shanti/Ashtangi'). Was it hard for you to learn the language?

I practise yoga. In Ashtangi Yoga. you chant sanskrit prayers before each practice every day. So I learned different prayers from my yoga teacher and I really liked the language and started to study what I was actually saying. And then my yoga teacher introduced me to a sanskrit professor. whom I studied with and took kinda like a crash course in pronunciation and the history of sanskrit. Latin comes from sanskrit. it's one of the oldest languages. So it was really interesting and it totally inlluenced me.

What’s the story in the song?

It‘s actually a combination of different prayers from the 13th century. I mean. the Reader's Digest version would be ‘it's a prayer for humility and strength and achieving happiness and bliss through pure consciousness’.

How did you get into yoga?

I started on doing healthy yoga. but I wanted something that was more challenging. The whole thing about yoga is you can just sit in the lotus position doing yoga. you could just walk on the beach doing yoga. It starts with your state of mind and you get into a meditative state and basically the poses are just to help you meditate. It‘s taught me how to be a lot more flexible and I don‘t mean just physically. I mean emotionally. I‘ve learned to be not only easy on myself but also on other people in terms of my expectations and it gives me a certain centredness and serenity that I don't think I had before.

What about your spirituality in general? What about it'.’ I haven‘t converted to Judaism. if you're wondering. Although I did read a letter in the ./(’lt‘l.\'/I Journal imploring me to convert to Judaism.

Listening to the album, it sounds like you regret having spent so much of your life devoted to your career.

No. I don't have any regrets about my work. If

there is any reference to my work. it would be in the first song (‘Drowned World‘) and it‘s not really about my work. it‘s about fame. And I certainly have no regrets whatsoever.

What about fame? Is it the good, the bad and the very ugly?

Oh. it‘s not that bad. I like to refer to it as the agony and the ecstasy. because there are a lot

of great things about being famous and a lot of

privileges I’ve been afforded. The good part about being famous is the ability to reach people. to affect people. to inspire people. But the bad thing is you don‘t have any privacy. People feel they know you and they have a right tojudge you. Besides all of that. if you‘re not a terribly evolved human being. it can end up becoming a substitute for real love and I think probably in different times of my life it has been.

By a similar token, what do you think of the Bill Clinton sex scandal?

It‘s such a stupid issue. I don‘t want to give it another moment's notice. I think it's ridiculous. I think they should leave him alone.

8 THE lIST 20 Feb—S lvlar 1998

The nine ages of Madonna

From New York disco darling to the current 'bedhair’-Iook, Madonna has had more image changes than you’ve had hot dinners. Some more tasty than others. Words: Fiona Shepherd

Like A Virgin Also from that era Lucky Star. Borderline, Into The Groove.

Distinguishing features Black lace, metal jewellery, crucifix, rats' tails hair, pink ng (for Top Of The Pops appearance).

This look took Madonna from disco darling of NYC to international megastar and inspired the priceless accusation that she was a 'porn queen on heat'. Probably still the most enduring image she has ever constructed for herself.

Shanghai Surprise

Distinguishing features An early stab at the classy EVita look.

Only a brief cinematic interlude (and one that artistically she’d probably rather forget), but a look which No Doubt's Gwen Stefani ripped off wholesale.

True Blue

Also from that era Papa Don’t Preach, Open Your Heart.

Distinguishing features Bottle blonde bad hair day.

In retrospect, her most hideous hairdo. The effect was more Melanie Griffiths than Monroe

Who's That Girl

Distinguishing features Essentially True Blue With slightly longer hair

Another cel|u|0id outing, but the cougar was better groomed.

Like A Prayer

Also from that era Express Yourself, Dear Jessie Distinguishing features Briefly au naturel hair colour. Although nothing she does could ever be Without a degree of artifice, this was Madonna stripped to her essence and closer to her Italian roots than we'd seen before. It wasn’t long before she hit the bottle



Also from that era Dick Tracy.

Distinguishing features near- perfect Monroe impersonation, Warren Beatty.

Really big on lingerie by this

Blonde Ambition

Also from that era Hanky Panky, In Bed With Madonna Distinguishing features Hair scraped back into flowing ponytail, pomty bras, ostentatious behaViour Shot herself in the foot With excessive talk of 'this is howl express myself as an artist', 'l'm just expressing what's natural', ’look at me everyone", etc while wearing those ridiculous cones

Something To Remember

Also from that era You’ll See, This Used To Be My Playground Distinguishing features Simply dressed, Bardot hair, 60s shades. Looking like she'd stepped out of a French New Wave film, instead she made the dire Dangerous Game With Harvey Keitel.

Ray Of Light

Distinguishing features Earth mother look, wrinkles, ’bedhan?

Of her recent appearance at the Golden Globes she says: ’That was a mood I was in that day. That's what I call bedhair. That's what my hair looks like when I get out of bed. It’s a perfected version of bedhair.’

I Thanks to HMV


Talking about the agony and the ecstasy, do you ever want to go back and sell doughnuts again?

Hell. no! I never wanna go back to selling doughnuts. Listen. I love what I do. I can‘t think of anything that you could do that wouldn‘t have. like. pitfalls.

One pitfall being that, especially after In Bed With Madonna, many people see you as a control freak. Is it still an issue that women are treated negatively when they try to take control, whereas men are applauded for doing exactly that?

Well. I think all creative people are perfectionists. so I prefer to think about

myself as not being a control freak. And yeah. there‘s a double standard in our society. If a man is a perfectionist. he‘s just doing his job and if a woman is. she's being difficult. but that‘s the way it is.

So what d'you think about that? as some girl group once sang. Do you believe in girl power?

Well. I like Posh Spice the best. Yeah. of course I believe in girl power.

Are you the original Spice Girl? Yeah.

Ray Of Light is released on WEA on Mon 9 Mar