On 21th March 25 years ago, 1989, Madonna released her fourth studio album, "Like a Prayer"; one of her´s most powerful and successful records. It was also the one that made a first contact between Madonna and me, the contact that is continuing after all these years. Since then I never left her.

The album, made in collaboration with her long-time music partners Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray, reflects all her personal stories that haunted her in that period: from deep wounds caused by a rigid catholic education and by the premature death of her mother*, to a painful divorce from Sean Penn, strained relationship with her brothers and sisters to the hard and difficult one with her father. The result was an album made of songs that were more than intimate, larger than life stories...songs about religion, about respect and love who we are, family values and the search of the self-esteem.
For this opportunity Billboard interviewed Patrick Leonard...he revealed few interesting facts of the album making and the collaboration with Madonna. Like:

- We all know that in that album Madonna and Prince did a track called "Love Song"; but that´s not the only thing he did. His guitar work is on, when you start "Like a Prayer". Madonna sent him something to play on and he played on it and sent it back. And they didn't feel that what he did served it

- For the song "Oh Father" "record" button was only pressed three times. It was pressed to do the track, live, with Madonna singing live. Then they did the orchestra. And then they did a double of her vocal when they were mixing. Two or three guitar players, Patrick on keyboards, Jay Winding on his keyboards, a percussionist and a drummer, while Madonna was singing. All happened and has been recorded in the same time**. This technique made a "live sound" to the album

- "She would come in about 11 and I would have the musical idea on whatever piece of gear I was using. I think it was just a Yamaha sequencer or something at the time. Or we might have been up like to an MPC 60 or something like that.I would just put the track, the chord changes, some kind of drum beat, bass line -- something simple -- and say, "here's the idea, here's what I have for the day." She would listen, and then we would talk a little bit. Oftentimes I'd say, "Here’s the verse, and here's the chorus," and she'd say, "no, it's the other way around, switch 'em." So I'd switch 'em. This thing is an hour old, it's not etched in stone. Then she would just start writing. She'd start writing lyrics and oftentimes there was an implied melody. She would start with that and deviate from it. Or if there was nothing but a chord change, she'd make up a melody. But, a lot of the time in my writing there's a melody implied or I even have something in mind. But she certainly doesn't need that. She would write the lyrics in an hour, the same amount of time it took me to write the music (laughs). And then she'd sing it. We'd do some harmonies, she'd sing some harmony parts, and usually by three or four in the afternoon, she was gone. That’s how "Like a Prayer" was written, and then the next day we wrote "Cherish," and then the next day we wrote "Dear Jessie." And that's how it was. We wrote the album in less than two weeks." - Patrick describing the process of the music and lyrics making***. To read the whole interview, click here.


1. "Like a Prayer" Madonna, Patrick Leonard 5:39
The title track and the first single released on March 1989 is a pop-rock song with gospel elements. he music video, directed by Mary Lambert, portrays Madonna as a witness to a murder of a black girl by white supremacists. While a black man is arrested for the murder, Madonna hides in a church for safety seeking strength to go forth as a witness. The clip depicts Catholic symbols such as stigmata, Ku Klux Klan-style cross burning, and a dream about kissing a black saint. After its release, the Vatican condemned the video, while family and religious groups protested its broadcast. They boycotted products by soft drink manufacturer Pepsi, which used the song for a commercial. Madonna's contract with Pepsi was then canceled, although she was allowed to retain her initial fee.

2. "Express Yourself" Madonna, Stephen Bray 4:39
The second single from the album, released on May 9, 1989 is an upbeat dance-pop song inspired by female empowerment; stimulate women never to go for second-best, to always express their inner feelings and themselves. The video was inspired by was inspired by the Fritz Lang classic film Metropolis (1927) and directed by David Fincher.

3. "Love Song" (with Prince) Madonna, Prince 4:52
A duet and a collaboration track with Prince.

4. "Till Death Do Us Part" Madonna, Patrick Leonard 5:16
A track inspired by her violence divorce from Sean Penn.

5. "Promise to Try" Madonna, Patrick Leonard 3:36
A very intimate, personal song dedicated to her mother Madonna

6. "Cherish" Madonna, Patrick Leonard 5:03
Third single from the album, released on August 1, 1989, was inspired by themes of love and relationship and by William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The black and white music video was directed by photographer and her friend Herb Ritts at the Paradise Cove Beach in Malibu, California. It was his first music video.

7. "Dear Jessie" Madonna, Patrick Leonard 4:20
A sweet lullaby dedicated and inspired by Patrick Leonard's daughter Jessie.

8. "Oh Father" Madonna, Leonard 4:57
The fourth single from the album on October 24, 1989. The song is about her relationship with her father that changed and become conflicting after her mother´s death in 1963 and after his re-marriage only two years later.
The black and white video was directed by David Fincher and it´s in general one of my favorites all the time music videos. Especially love the details of fallen-pearls and sewn mother´s lips.

9. "Keep It Together" Madonna, Stephen Bray 5:03
The sixth and final single from the album, released on January 30 1990, is a pop-funk song with upbeat rhythm and groove elements. The song is about unity, family values and inspired by Sly and the Family Stone's Family Affair.

10. "Spanish Eyes" Madonna, Patrick Leonard 5:15
A song about Latin gang wars, a prayer for a child died during these fights. In some later editions of the album the song titled changed from to "Pray For Spanish Eyes".

11. "Act of Contrition" Madonna, Patrick Leonard 2:19
The last track features Like a Prayer lyrics backwards, hinting to a satanic joke, and loads of Prince guitar elements.

You can listen to the whole timeless album here.

* she was five years old when that happened
** something that you will never experience nowadays
*** taken from the Billboard interview


  1. She’s consistently fabulous!

  2. She’s definitely the master of transormation! Love her <3

  3. Great post!