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Live to Tell
Written by Madonna and Pat Leonard (subliminal softlinking by owlman)
Originally on the True Blue album (1986)

IMHO, the best song that Madonna’s ever done. She managed to turn in a song that is strong, both melodically and lyrically, and a haunting one, to boot.

Anyway, my interest in this song stemmed from the fact that the video featured scenes from At Close Range, a 1986 movie starring Sean Penn and Christopher Walken. Not a great movie but if you follow the lyrics, it kind of tells you the basic plot in a somewhat abstract way. Plus, Madonna looked like a wartime bride or something – which wasn’t too bad, after all.

Also, I used this song as part of the soundtrack to a short film project that I did called Triads. Sort of a Chinese version of The Godfather but something that will always remain in the closet as it was a pretty shoddy production (what did you expect from a first-year starving university student?). The song played during a funeral scene in the film.


I have a tale to tell
Sometimes it gets so hard to hide it well
I was not ready for the fall
Too blind to see the writing on the wall

A man can tell a thousand lies
I’ve learned my lesson well
Hope I live to tell the secret I have learned
Till then, it will burn inside of me

I know where beauty lives
I’ve seen it once, I know the warmth she gives
The light that you could never see
It shines inside, you can’t take that from me

A man can tell a thousand lies
I’ve learned my lesson well
Hope I live to tell the secret I have learned
Till then, it will burn inside of me

The truth is never far behind
You've kept it hidden well
If I live to tell the secret I have learned
Will I ever have the chance again?

If I ran away, I’d never have the strength to go very far
How will they hear the beating of my heart?
Will it grow cold, this secret that I hide, till I grow old?
How will they hear, when will they learn, how will they know?

A man can tell a thousand lies
I’ve learned my lesson well
Hope I live to tell the secret I have learned
Till then, it will burn inside of me

The truth is never far behind
You've kept it hidden well
If I live to tell the secret I have learned
Will I ever have the chance again?

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