Song of the Day #4,787: ‘Like a Prayer’ – Madonna

Madonna hit a rough patch between the release of the smash hit True Blue in 1986 and her next album, 1989’s Like a Prayer.

Her marriage to Sean Penn fell apart in ugly fashion, amid rumors of his jealousy driving him to acts of violence against Madonna and others. She has since denied those reports, though she provided the police with vivid details at the time and the stories were corroborated by witnesses.

Creatively, her attempts at an acting career fell flat, with both the movie Who’s That Girl? and a Broadway production of Speed the Plow flopping with audiences and critics alike.

So Madonna turned to what she did best, recording hit albums, and delivered her most personal and acclaimed work yet.

Like a Prayer deals with Madonna’s Catholicism, her dead mother, her absentee father, and her troubled marriage. It is lyrically raw and musically potent, working both as a confessional and a collection of hits. I’m a bit ashamed that my anti-pop snobbery kept me from realizing how good it was at the time.

The album’s biggest hit was the title track, an excellent pop/gospel track that benefitted from its controversial video. Madonna has always had a gift for provocation, and this clip’s blend of religious iconography and interracial romance worked like gangbusters on that front.

Watching it now, I’m reminded of how goddamned sexy Madonna was at this point in her career, especially with brown hair.

Other hits included ‘Express Yourself,’ ‘Cherish,’ ‘Dear Jessie’ and ‘Keep It Together,’ each of which successfully mined very different musical territory. Lesser-known tracks include ‘Love Song,’ a collaboration with Prince, and ‘Til Death Do Us Part,’ a song about her marriage that suggests the rumors of domestic abuse were true.

In ‘Promise To Try’ and ‘Oh Father,’ Madonna delivers poignant performances while exploring her relationship with both parents.

Like a Prayer was less successful than her previous two releases but still sold 5 million copies in the U.S. and 15 million worldwide, making Madonna’s four-album run in the 80s among the most commercially successful decades of any artist in history.

[Intro]
Life is a mystery
Everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like home

[Chorus]
When you call my name
It’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees
I want to take you there
In the midnight hour
I can feel your power
Just like a prayer
You know I’ll take you there

[Verse 1]
I hear your voice
It’s like an angel sighing
I have no choice
I hear your voice
Feels like flying
I close my eyes
Oh God, I think I’m falling
Out of the sky
I close my eyes
Heaven, help me

[Chorus]
When you call my name
It’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees
I want to take you there
In the midnight hour
I can feel your power
Just like a prayer
You know I’ll take you there

[Verse 2]
Like a child
You whisper softly to me
You’re in control
Just like a child
Now I’m dancing
It’s like a dream
No end and no beginning
You’re here with me
It’s like a dream
Let the choir sing

[Chorus]
When you call my name
It’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees
I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour
I can feel your power
Just like a prayer
You know I’ll take you there
When you call my name
It’s like a little prayer
I’m down on my knees
I wanna take you there
In the midnight hour
I can feel your power
Just like a prayer
You know I’ll take you there

[Reprise]
Life is a mystery
Everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like home

[Chorus]
Just like a prayer
Your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me
You are a mystery
Just like a dream
You are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice
Your voice can take me there

[Bridge]
Just like a prayer, I’ll take you there
It’s like a dream to me (Mmmm…)
Just like a prayer, I’ll take you there (I’ll take you there)
It’s like a dream to me (Oh, oh-oh-oh yeah)
Just like a prayer, I’ll take you there (I’ll take you there)
It’s like a dream to me (Oh yeah, yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah)
Just like a prayer, I’ll take you there (Oh, yeah)
It’s like a dream to me (Oh, oh)

[Chorus]
Just like a prayer
Your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me
You are a mystery
Just like a dream
You are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice
Your voice can take me there

Just like a prayer
Your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me
You are a mystery
Just like a dream
You are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice
Your voice can take me there
Your voice can take me there
Like a prayer

[Outro]
It’s like a prayer, your voice can take me there
It’s like a prayer
It’s like a prayer, your voice can take me there
It’s like a prayer
It’s like a prayer, your voice can take me there
It’s like a prayer
It’s like a prayer, your voice can take me there
It’s like a prayer

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,787: ‘Like a Prayer’ – Madonna

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Madonna’s evolution I mentioned yesterday continued on this album, as did my appreciation of her as an artist.

  2. Amy says:

    Once again, it was all about the videos. I couldn’t get enough of the one for “Cherish,” directed by Herb Ritts. The song was sweet and simple, and the little mermaid family appropriately adorable, but it was Madonna, shot by Ritts, who commanded my attention. Reflecting on it now, I realize that may have been the moment I decided I wanted short hair. 🙂 Has anyone ever looked more gorgeous than she looks in this video?

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