Friday, 21 March 2014

Turn It Up!: Madonna - Oh Father (Music Video)

"Oh Father, you never wanted to live that way, you never wanted to hurt me. Why am I running away?"

Howdy Readers, it's been awhile and I've missed you all. I've been very busy as of late, mostly with making plans to buy a house with my boyfriend (fingers crossed, we're looking at new houses tomorrow), and at the moment I'm not feeling well, but I wanted to add this post because this is definitely a worthy occasion.

Today is the 25th anniversary of yet another great pop album, Madonna's 1989 classic "Like A Prayer". This is one of the finest and most cohesive collections of Madonna's career. Not only was every song written or co-written by her, but it was the first time she had ever fully delved into really personal lyrics and subject matter. Her first 3 albums were filled with mostly lighter fare (with the exception of a few songs on True Blue, ie. Live To Tell and Papa Don't Preach), but the overall theme of Like A Prayer, was family, death, and religion.

Though the album spawned a lot of controversy from the catholic league and many political and religious groups for it's content and eventual video imagery for the singles "Like A Prayer", "Express Yourself" and "Oh Father", music critics hailed Madonna for artfully facing her inner most thoughts and demons regarding an array of situations faced from childhood to young womanhood. From singing about the death of her Mother (her Mother died of breast cancer when she was 5) in "Promise To Try", to questioning the patriarchal rules of society and the Catholic church in "Like A Prayer" and "Express Yourself", to dealing with the subject of abuse (both spousal and familial) in songs like "Til Death Do Us Part" and "Oh Father", and ultimately rollicking in the sounds of love in songs like "Cherish", "Dear Jessie" and "Keep It Together", she takes us all on a cathartic roller coaster ride and opens the doors for discussion , revolution, and celebration.

Now to the video above! I chose this video because it is probably my favorite song on the album, and because the video always brings a tear to my eye. Oh Father was the 4th and ultimately least successful single released from Like A Prayer, but who cares about things like that?!?! You don't need to be a hit to be on this blog (actually, quite the contrary). This may be another reason I chose it, everyone always talks about the controversy surrounding the Like a Prayer and Express Yourself videos (rightfully so), but I feel this song never gets it's dues.

Though she has never divulged the actual inspiration behind the song, I feel that the song is ultimately about abandonment and forgiveness. Whether the references to abuse were literal or figurative, the fact is that the song touches on being left and being neglected by a parent when the other dies. In Madonna's case, her mother died, her father eventually remarried, and Madonna felt abandoned by both of them. In the video, she makes fewer attempts to be vague. The little girl dancing in the graveyard, is a reflection of Madonna's innocence. As she dances outside, her Mother is dying inside, and the girl is eventually left with an abusive Father. As she grows up, the woman she becomes is trapped in yet another abusive relationship (sins of the father) and as she grows to forgive her Father and understand the pain that he put her through was a reflection of his own inner pain, she finds the will power to walk out on her abusive lover.

I have to say that the most vivid image from this video for me, is the image of the little girl at her mothers casket and gazing upon her Mothers lips which have been sewn shut. Madonna has stated that this was a lingering memory of her own Mother's funeral.  

"There was so much left unsaid, so many untangled and unresolved emotions, of remorse, guilt, loss, anger, confusion. ... I saw my mother, looking very beautiful and lying as if she were asleep in an open casket. Then I noticed that my mother's mouth looked funny. It took me some time to realize that it had been sewn up. In that awful moment, I began to understand what I had lost forever. The final image of my mother, at once peaceful yet grotesque, haunts me today."

In closing, I invite each of you to comment (if you wish) and let me know what your favorite song from Like A Prayer is, and why?

Till next post! Shows over Synergy lol.

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