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Madonna‘s Like a Prayer has a suggestive title track, but it also has some moments of innocence. For example, one of the tracks from the album was inspired by a little girl. The response to the track in different countries was polarized. Notably, the song in question inspired one of the most uncharacteristic videos of Madonna’s career.

Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’ era was a change of pace for her

Like a Prayer was the moment Madonna’s music became a lot more personal. It deals with the Materials Girls’ feelings about religion, her family, and her divorce from Sean Penn. The album was co-produced by Patrick Leonard, the unsung songwriting maestro who co-wrote “Like a Prayer,” “Express Yourself,” and other Madonna hits.

During a 2017 interview with Boy Culture, Leonard discussed why Madonna’s music became more personal with Like a Prayer. “I think it happens naturally,” he replied. “In hindsight, I can see it. I remember the conversations we had, even questions about lyrics. She’d ask, ‘Is this too direct?’ I remember these things happening innocently. If there was a grand plan, I didn’t know what it was.”

Interestingly, Madonna celebrated the innocence of childhood in one of the songs from Like a Prayer: “Dear Jessie.” Leonard revealed that the track was inspired by his daughter, Jessie. 

Leonard was asked when Jessie realized she was the subject of “Dear Jessie.” “I think she was in her twenties,” he said. “People started saying, ‘You’re the Jessie from ‘Dear Jessie.’ She thinks it’s cool. 

“There’s quite a few pictures of them together,” he added. “Madonna’s an incredible mother and loving parent and in those days, here was this adorable little girl that was around all the time and they bonded, they really did. For that laugh on ‘Dear Jessie,’ Jessie came down to the studio on the last day and I think my assistant chased her around the room to make her laugh. It was her first overdub.”

Madonna emphasized the childhood theme of “Dear Jessie” in its music video. It’s an animated music video that depicts the Queen of Pop as a fairy. It features lots of cute imagery, showing that the video vixen who made provocative clips like “Justify My Love” and “Erotica” also knew how to make Disney-style fun for the whole family.


Madonna Said ‘Like a Prayer’ Is About a Girl in Love With God

Madonna’s ‘Dear Jessie’ was a flop and a hit at the same time

“Dear Jessie” did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Perhaps it was too juvenile for the masses in the late 1980s. On the other hand, Like a Prayer was a big hit. It reached No. 1 for six weeks, lasting on the chart for 77 weeks in total.

In contrast, The Official Charts Company reports that “Dear Jessie” was a hit in the United Kingdom. There, the track peaked at No. 5 and stayed on the chart for nine weeks. In the U.K., Like a Prayer climbed to No. 1 for a pair of weeks. It remained on the chart for 73 weeks in total.

“Dear Jessie” isn’t one of Madonna’s biggest hits in the U.S. but it showed off a different side of the Queen of Pop.