On December 24 1995, Oh Father was released as the second UK single from Madonna’s ballads retrospective, Something To Remember.
Warner had initially declined the option to release Oh Father in most European markets when it became the fourth North American single from Like A Prayer in late 1989, instead opting for a more by-the-numbers portrait of childhood innocence with the release of Dear Jessie. Why it was determined to be a better idea in 1995, following its poor showing on the U.S. charts, is anyone’s guess. One possibility is that Oh Father‘s brilliant preexisting music video provided an easy, cost-free means of promoting the song while Madonna remained unavailable due to her recording commitments for the Evita soundtrack.
While I would personally rank Oh Father among Madonna’s very best musical and lyrical efforts, and its music video an underrated classic – it never had the makings of a commercial hit. And history repeated itself when the song’s dark subject matter once again stunted its ability to gain momentum on radio for its British release. It became only her third UK single at the time to peak outside the top-ten when it stalled at #16 in its first charting week. It fared better in Finland and Italy, however, reaching #6 in both countries.