Oh, Father

Album: Like A Prayer (1989)
Charted: 16 20
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • "Oh father," is often the start of a prayer, typically a child talking to God and often as part of a confession. Like the song "Promise To Try" on the album, it relates to Madonna's childhood and finds her taking on the emotional burden she carried as a little girl. Regarding "Oh, Father," she said it was "me dealing with all authority figures in my life."
  • The black-and-white video was influenced by the photography in the movie Citizen Kane. Some of the material for the video was autobiographical, which led to questions about Madonna's relationship with her father, to which Madonna replied it was about her coming to terms with all the men in her life who had hurt her. She added that her own father had never asked about the song and they had never spoken of it. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mike - Santa Barbara, CA
  • The single did poorly as a commercial release, ending Madonna's streak of 18 Top 10 hits in the US. However it reached #1 in South Africa. In the UK it wasn't released as a single until 1995 when it was issued to promote her compilation album Something To Remember.
  • Madonna wrote and produced this with one of her frequent collaborators, keyboardist Patrick Leonard. She explained their working relationship to Smash Hits in 1989: "Lots of times Pat Leonard will come up with a piece of music like 'Oh Father' - we did very little to change it musically - he throws the music at me and I just listen to it over and over again. And somehow the music suggests words to me and I just start writing words down. Other times I will come to Pat with an idea for a song, either lyrically or emotionally and say 'Let's do something like this' or I'll have a melody line in my head which I will sing to him and he will sort of pound out the chords. It takes a lot longer to do it that way because I don't play an instrument but ultimately it's a lot more personal."
  • Madonna had yet another censorship battle with this song's music video, but she won: "Well, every time I do a video they say they're not going to show it. When I did 'Oh, Father,' they said, 'We're not going to show the scene with the lips sewn up.' And I said, 'F--k you,' And then they showed it," she told Interview Magazine.

    The scene in question involved a little girl's dead mother in a casket with her lips sewn shut, inspired by Madonna's memories of her own mother's funeral. Madonna Ciccone died of breast cancer at the age of 30 in 1963 when the future singer was 5 years old.
  • After "Express Yourself," this was the second in a string of Madonna videos to be directed by David Fincher, followed by "Vogue" and "Bad Girl." He also went on to direct popular films like Seven (1995), Fight Club (1999) and The Social Network (2010).
  • Australian Pop singer Sia covered this for her album We Are Born in 2010.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 5

  • Julio from San Jose, Costa RicaThe video for this song was directed by David Fincher, who directed also Madonna's Express Yourself. In fact, he was a very prolific video director, before he began filming feature films, like SE7EN and THE SOCIAL NETWORK.
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesMy mother cried when she saw the video for this.
  • Leo from Westminster 1, MdOh Father-beautiful and sad Ciccone ballad about all the men that have betrayed and cheated Madonna in her life. The first Madonna tune to scream "A victim of a kind of rage!" Well done and absolutely brilliant, Madge!
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnThis song is hauntingly beautiful, some of Madonna's strongest vocals.
  • Daniel from Rio De Janeiro, Brazila much more mature approach to father-daughter relationship than "Papa don't preach"
see more comments

Jim McCarty of The YardbirdsSongwriter Interviews

The Yardbirds drummer explains how they created their sound and talks about working with their famous guitarists.

Into The Great Wide Open: Made-up MusiciansSong Writing

Eddie (played by Johnny Depp in the video) found fame fleeting, but Chuck Berry's made-up musician fared better.

George HarrisonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really steal George's wife? What's the George Harrison-Monty Python connection? Set the record straight with our Fact or Fiction quiz.

Macabre Mother Goose: The Dark Side of Children's SongsSong Writing

"London Bridge," "Ring Around the Rosie" and "It's Raining, It's Pouring" are just a few examples of shockingly morbid children's songs.

Matthew Wilder - "Break My Stride"They're Playing My Song

Wilder's hit "Break My Stride" had an unlikely inspiration: a famous record mogul who rejected it.

Phone Booth SongsSong Writing

Phone booths are nearly extinct, but they provided storylines for some of the most profound songs of the pre-cell phone era.