1001 Songs Challenge,  1980s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #713: Like a Prayer (1989)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…


Madonna – Like a Prayer (1989)

Like a Prayer (song)

” Like a Prayer” is a song recorded by American singer Madonna for her fourth studio album of the same name. Sire Records released it as the album’s lead single on March 3, 1989. Written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, the track heralded an artistic and personal approach to songwriting for Madonna, who believed that she needed to cater more to her adult audience.


Lyrics (via Genius)
Learn more about this song (via Genius)


We’re continuing in the US, dear reader, but leaving San Francisco behind to go to Michigan and check back in with Madonna. She previously appeared in 1985 with Into the Groove but four years on things have changed. After some failed film projects, the breakdown of her marriage to Sean Penn and now reaching the age of 30, Madonna decided a change of direction was needed, a new maturity to bring her music in line with the audience that had grown with her. Her fourth album, Like a Prayer, was the result of this and 1001 Songs have gone with the title track. 

Like a Prayer harks back to Madonna’s own upbringing. She has stated in interviews that being raised as a Catholic led to a lifelong impact, this feeling of always being a sinner and never fully worthy of god. Like a Prayer is more a celebration of faith and god. The protagonist seems to be a young girl who reflects on the world around her and how one is ultimately alone on their own personal journey through life. However, there is comfort to be found in faith and the girl looks up to the skies and marvels at the beauty and sanctuary provided by God. The song also has the sound of a love song about it, the girl deeply embedded in her faith, but one could mistake this for a very deep infatuation with another individual as well. 

Like a Prayer was a groundbreaking album for Madonna, silencing those critics that had written her off as just a pop star. She was now a serious musician with the songs to prove it. Like a Prayer is one of her best loved songs and a staple of her live shows to this day. The music video was very controversial with burning crucifixes among some of the imagery on show. The song would top the charts in the UK and US, proof that the Queen of Pop’s gamble had paid off and she was now versatile and to be taken seriously. The world was now hers.


Favourite songs so far:

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)

The Doors – The End (1967)

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)

Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)

Ultravox – Vienna (1980)

The Smiths – How Soon Is Now? (1984)

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car (1988)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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