On March 19 1989, Madonna was the featured artist in the Arts section of the New York Times in an article and interview by Stephen Holden.
Like a Prayer, said Madonna, “is the song of a passionate young girl so in love with God that it is almost as though He were the male figure in her life. From around 8 to 12 years old, I had the same feelings. I really wanted to be a nun.”
What follows is a description in Madonna’s own words of what happens in the video:
“A girl on the street witnesses an assault on a young woman. Afraid to get involved because she might get hurt, she is frozen in fear. A black man walking down the street also sees the incident and decides to help the woman. But just then, the police arrive and arrest him. As they take him away, she looks up and sees one of the gang members who assaulted the girl. He gives her a look that says she’ll be dead if she tells. The girl runs, not knowing where to go until she sees a church. She goes in and sees a saint in a cage who looks very much like the black man on the street, and says a prayer to help her make the right decision. He seems to be crying, but she is not sure. She lies down on a pew and falls into a dream in which she begins to tumble in space with no one to break her fall. Suddenly she is caught by a woman who represents earth and emotional strength and who tosses her back up and tells her to do the right thing. Still dreaming, she returns to the saint, and her religious and erotic feelings begin to stir. The saint becomes a man. She picks up a knife and cuts her hands. That’s the guilt in Catholicism that if you do something that feels good you will be punished. As the choir sings, she reaches an orgasmic crescendo of sexual fulfillment intertwined with her love of God. She knows that nothing’s going to happen to her if she does what she believes is right. She wakes up, goes to the jail, tells the police the man is innocent, and he is freed. Then everybody takes a bow as if to say we all play a part in this little scenario.”
On March 17 1994, the music video for I’ll Remember (Theme From With Honors) premiered on BBC1-TV’s Top Of The Pops in the UK.
I’ll Remember began as a collaboration between Richard Page (of 80’s band Mister Mister) and Patrick Leonard. Leonard had been asked by Madonna to score Alek Keshishian’s film With Honors, and had also been collaborating with Page on an upcoming Toy Matinee album. When Leonard played an early demo of I’ll Remember for Madonna, she loved it and decided to record it with new lyrics she had written. The song was produced by Madonna & Patrick Leonard, with Page providing additional backing vocals.
Madonna had previously crossed paths with Richard Page when he presented her with a trophy at the 1987 American Music Awards (pictured above).
On February 4 2003, filming for Madonna’s music video for American Life took place in Los Angeles with director Jonas Åkerlund.
The casting call issued for the video sought the following:
Eastern European Man (30 – 60 yrs. old, Real people, THIN, interesting looking, great face, worn out looking, craggy). 4 Beautiful Models (drop dead gorgeous w. amazing legs and bodies). 10 soldiers (must have long hair and be willing to shave it for the video… good-looking, really good body). Hair stylist (male or female, any ethnicity, must be real hair stylists, think editorial type. Stylist (male or female, any ethnicity, 20’s, cool and interesting looking, think N.Y. 2 Babes (very voluptuous and buxom, bimbo types, b pin-up girls). Makeup artists (m or f, any ethnicity, a REAL makeup artist). 2 IRAQI kids (boys and girls, 4 – 7 yrs. old). African-American Male (35 – 50, THIN).
Åkerlund commented on the upcoming video to Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet:
“It’s great that Madonna gives me the trust to do this video. The song is super cool and aimed for the dance floors. I especially love that she gives me the trust to do the first single from the new album. There is a special feeling and ambition around the first single and a hell of lot of secrets. I had to sign a paper even before I got to listen to the song! The shooting will take 3 days.”
On January 7 1998, filming began for Madonna’s Frozen music video in the California desert with director Chris Cunningham.
Cunningham recalled the initial concept for the video in his book, Directors Label:
“The original treatment was, like, massive piles of bodies in the desert. All these figurative sculptures made up of bodies that were all multiple Madonnas. They were all going to split and break up and change into ravens and then change into dogs. Just a performance video, but a really elaborate one using her, her clothes, and any shapes that would come out of her clothes.”