[artist id="1098"]Madonna[/artist] spoke at length about her relationship with [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist] during the heartfelt tribute she paid to him during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, which she told MTV News was written "from my heart." In segments from her recent interview with Rolling Stone that were posted online Monday but not included in the print edition, she spoke at length about her relationship with him and her admiration for his talent.
Even as a child, Madonna said she was fascinated with the singer who would later be her friend (although MJ reportedly had a less-positive impression of the time they spent together, according to "The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation" by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach). "I was madly in love with him, totally smitten," she said. "He was mind-bogglingly talented. The songs he sang were not childlike at all."
Madonna later got the opportunity to meet with Jackson early on in her career, and recalled her very first encounter with the singer.
"I met him in the early '80s, when I first started working with my manager, Freddy DeMann, who at the time was managing Michael Jackson. I saw him play at Madison Square Garden, and I was blown away. He was flawless. There was a party at the Helmsley Palace Hotel. He was very shy, but it was a thrill for me." she revealed.
Later on, the two shared a great deal in common, and not just the fact that they were both media icons and were born in the same month and year. They attempted working together but ultimately never did.
"There was a period of time when we hung out," she told the magazine. "He wanted to work with me, I think he wanted to get to know me, and I wanted to do the same. When you write with somebody, it's a weird experience, you feel vulnerable and shy. When I worked with Justin Timberlake I felt that way. To write songs together is a very intimate experience, like getting tossed into a juggernaut: 'On your mark, get set, create!' You have to get past these hurdles, which are, 'I want to impress this person, but will they think my ideas are stupid? What if their ideas are stupid? Can I be honest with them? Will they be offended?' You end up talking and gabbing and socializing, and you have to do that in order to get to the next level, to be creative.
"So that's what we were doing: watching movies, having dinner, hanging out, going to the Oscars, being silly, seeing if we could work," she continued. "He got relaxed. He took off his sunglasses, had a glass of wine, I got him to laugh."
As she noted during her VMA speech, Madonna stressed the difficulty that Jackson's childhood must have presented for him.
"All I have are my opinions, I wasn't very close to him. It's good to have a good childhood and a sense of yourself in the world before people start telling you who they think you are," she said. "Where you can make mistakes and have a sense of innocence. It gives you a sense of confidence. I don't think he started off that way. Did he have any sense of himself outside of the world of being adored and famous? It's hard to survive like that. I think he felt insecure about the attention he got, and had a love-hate relationship with his job."
She also spoke of her admiration for MJ's songwriting ability. "I'd wished I'd written "Billie Jean" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'." What song didn't I love?" she said.
As someone who can understand what it's like to be in the glare of media attention for years on end, Madonna had some sad observations about MJ's final years.
"He didn't seem to have any close friends. And in the last decade, everybody abandoned him, or wrote him off as crazy," she said. "People have said so many things about me that aren't true, and I never once had a second thought that the accusations against him might be true. But he didn't seem to have a way to deal with that, publicly or privately, and it can destroy you. When he died, everyone was saying what a great genius he was, but it's important to appreciate things before you lose them. It's a great tragedy."
Don't miss "Michael Jackson's This Is It" Premiere Special, airing on MTV and VH1 on Tuesday, October 27 at 8:30 p.m. ET! "Michael Jackson's This Is It" opens in a limited engagement on October 27 and and wide on October 28.
Check out everything we've got on "Michael Jackson's This Is It."