Although this is a collaboration with the Queen of pop and Prince, this song is the weakest track on the album. A simple ballad with piano and strings, no rhythm section, this is a tear-jerker. Again the melody is simple, but the way Madonna sings it, sometimes close to breaking up in tears, is just perfect. After two darker songs, Cherish is like a breath of fresh air.
As with most of the songs, the strength is the melody. This one is surprisingly complex, rhythmically dynamic, we can even hear Madonna sing in falsetto. Dear Jessie is an interesting song, it sounds more like a lullaby than a pop song. It has two distinct sections with different instrumentations and time signature, the first with string instruments, really joyful, and the other with acoustic guitar and echo, more dreamy. It was released as the fourth single from the album on October 24, by Sire Records.
The song was not released as a single in most European territories until December 24, , when it appeared on the ballads compilation Something to Remember. Written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard , the nexus of "Oh Father" was the presence of male authoritative figures in Madonna's life, most prominently her father, Tony Ciccone.
Madonna's relationship with her father had soured after her mother's death in and his remarriage two years later. While developing the Like a Prayer album, Madonna was in an emotional state of mind due to her personal problems, which is reflected in "Oh Father". Musically, "Oh Father" is a baroque pop ballad. Leonard put together different types of chord progression and created the basic outline of a melody, which Madonna shaped and then wrote lyrics to fit the melody.
She used a contrast of timbre while singing the song, which also featured instrumentation from strings , piano , violin and drums. In most of the countries where it was released, the song failed to attain top-ten positions, except in Finland, where it peaked at number six. It ended Madonna's string of 16 consecutive top five singles in the United States. The music video of the song was Madonna's attempt to embrace and accept her mother's death.
Directed by David Fincher and shot in black-and-white, it shows a little girl playing in the snow, as her mother dies. A grown-up Madonna follows the child and sings the song, as the child runs away from her abusive father.
Described by reviewers as "autobiographical", the video was listed by Rolling Stone as one of "The Top Music Videos". Scholars noted how Madonna's persona was split into the child and adult in the video, and one writer described a scene involving the dead mother shown in her wake, with her lips sewn shut, as one of the most disturbing scenes in the history of mainstream music videos—the scene was inspired by Madonna's memory of her mother from her funeral.
Ciccone, at a loss to explain her dire medical condition, would often begin to cry when questioned by Madonna, at which point Madonna would respond by wrapping her arms around her mother tenderly. 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 also.
Madonna eventually learned to take care of herself and her siblings, and she turned to her paternal grandmother in the hope of finding some solace and some form of her mother in her. The Ciccone siblings resented housekeepers and invariably rebelled against anyone brought into their home ostensibly to take the place of their beloved mother.
I wasn't rebellious in a certain way. I cared about being good at something. I didn't shave my underarms and I didn't wear make-up like normal girls do. But I studied and I got good grades I wanted to be somebody.
It was at this point that Madonna began to express unresolved feelings of anger towards her father that lasted for decades, and developed a rebellious attitude. I lost my mother, but then I was my mother When he married my stepmother, it was, 'OK, I don't need anybody.
When Madonna started work on her fourth studio album, Like a Prayer , she was already in an emotional state of mind, following her divorce with then-husband, Sean Penn , her thirtieth birthday, and unfavorable reviews for her acting endeavors. Karen later gets revenge, but is depicted as just as seedy and conniving as the men who had partaken in this bet and exploited her. Written with producer Patrick Leonard , in "Oh Father" the singer wanted to revisit the pain and confusion that had characterized her relationship with her father.
Although the singer has never mentioned physical abuse in her family, she had mentioned that her father was a disciplinarian and her stepmother was hard on her. Author Lucy O'Brien wrote in her book Madonna: Like an Icon that the song stemmed more from the emotional neglect that Madonna faced, with her father locked up in grief after Mrs.
Ciccone died. When he married again, his new wife was wrapped up with her own children, so the older kids were often left to their own devices. When Madonna went to record "Oh Father", her troubled role in Speed-the-Plow was on her mind, with the result being that she vented her emotions in the recording of the song. It was grotesquely dirty and cramped, and that's what came out of it. According to him, Madonna was moved while singing the song, since the theme suggested incest and the controversial topic of closet beatings.
However, her insecurities about her childhood showed up in anxieties during her vocal performance. Meyers said that if Madonna bended a note or sang flat in a certain spot, she would go on doing that consistently as she did not like to vary her voice or change the tone. For the baroque pop ballad, Madonna uses a contrast of timbre , her higher smoother voice with her lower one.
After this, drums, string arrangement and piano ushers on top of the violins, as Madonna sings the chorus line "You can't hurt me now, I got away from you, I never thought I would.
As Madonna sings the verse "Oh father I have sinned", the violins change their pitch to a higher one. That's it. So it's real. It's something that I really wanted to do and she was kind enough to say 'let's try this,' and it was not easy. Critical response for "Oh Father" was generally positive. Randy Taraborrelli, author of Madonna: An Intimate Biography , commented that with the track, Madonna exposed herself by transforming her personal experience into art, making it clear to anyone how she felt about her relationship with Tony.
He added that "Oh Father" was the most compassionate and generous moment in Madonna's musical career and the track might have inspired the exploration of childhood in the music of contemporary artists like Kate Bush and Tori Amos , in particular Bush's song "The Fog" from her studio album, The Sensual World , and Amos' "Winter" from the effort, Little Earthquakes.
Dunn wrote in her book Embodied Voices , that the autobiographical nature of the song brought forth a new side of Madonna. She described Madonna's singing as consisting of " Courtney Love -style rasp" and adding that Madonna "attacks the song with personal passion".
Lennox Samuels from The Dallas Morning News felt that the "great sense of being hurt that is present in 'Oh Father' is far more relatable than any other Madonna song.
He added that the "upward modulation of the chorus, accompanied by some overdubbed self-harmonies that feature a very controlled and effective use of Madonna's highest register, is sheer brilliance, giving the song a steely resolve that removes any taint of self-pity from the verses.
Considine , while reviewing Like a Prayer for Rolling Stone , believed that despite the song's "lush" string arrangement, some of the lyrics contain a disquieting degree of pain. Hugely emo , parent-baiting lyrics, but gorgeous in its execution".
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