I have a part-time, one night a week job taking tickets at my favorite dive bar’s 80s night. You can’t really have the 80s without Madonna, and the DJ frequently plays the song ‘Like A Prayer.’ This song has always been one of my favorites, but it’s not because of the lyrics, or the changes in the song that take it from pop to a hymn to a full-fledged choir. (Although those are part of what makes it so much fun to sing at karaoke.)
No, the reason I love this song is because I remember the first time my grandmother caught me watching the video on MTV at her house. My mom didn’t have a tv, so when I went to stay with my grandparents I would typically park myself in front of theirs and gorge myself with the pop culture I was missing otherwise. I grew up in North Carolina, to grandparents who were solidly traditional Southern Baptists, but who, frankly, spoiled me rotten. My grandmother very rarely censored what I watched, even though it ranged from TGIF to Hee Haw to whatever was playing on MTV. Until, that is, the day my grandmother came in and saw me staring, rapt, at a video in which a lovely white Madonna was kissing the feet of a black statue who was dressed like Jesus, who came to life and walked, peacefully, out of a church. That was apparently a bridge too far, and I found my attention abruptly switched from this fascinating video to the equally fascinating (if wholly unlikely) sight of my dignified Mama flinging herself over the sofa, fumbling madly for the remote and turning it off, all while yelling at the top of her lungs for my grandfather.
Yep. I will always remember ‘Like a Prayer’ as the song that motivated my grandmother, the woman who relied on my grandfather to do everything from setting the clock on the microwave to switching the stereo from tape to tv, to learn how to use the parental controls on her tv.