“Life is a mystery/Everyone must stand alone/I hear you call my name/And it feels like home ...” Those words can still give me chills. They’re the opening lines to one of Madonna’s iconic songs, “Like A Prayer.” “Like A Prayer,” the album and song, turns 30. Yet it still sounds as good today as it did back then, when the song’s video made headlines for its controversial content, particularly using Catholic iconography and burning crosses. She was accustomed to creating a buzz, but this time, she was condemned by the Vatican and Pepsi dropped her sponsorship contract. Can you imagine how things would have been if the internet existed at that time? Madonna already had become a major force, but with “Like A Prayer,” we began to get a more introspective side. The album marked her fourth studio release with Sire. Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard continued to build her sound for that record, but it was also the first time Madge had worked with Prince. She also co-wrote and co-produced every song on the album. Critics hadn’t taken Madonna seriously as an artist until this point. She was more than a pop star, and “Like A Prayer” finally showcased her as an artist. She described the album as a collection of songs about her mother, her father and her family bonds. I was on the Madonna train from the beginning, but listening to “Like A Prayer” was an awakening. You could tell she had something to say. Sure, you could dance to the songs, but there was something more. Her music was finally “real.” “Like A Prayer” incorporated elements of dance, funk, soul and gospel and transformed them into a new phase of pop. Madonna’s evolution was growing with each new release, but the album’s title track became a game-changer. It quickly rose to No.1 and stayed there for three weeks. I still love this song. The opening guitar riffs cut off by a slamming door continues to give me chills. The following singles “Express Yourself” and “Cherish” each peaked at No. 2, which always seemed a little disheartening to me. They deserved to be No. 1’s. “Express Yourself” is such a strong, powerful anthem. It’s a killer track that stands the test of time. “Oh Father,” “Dear Jessie” and “Keep It Together” continued her streak of charting singles. But “Oh Father” was the song that got me. First, the ethereal music is gorgeous. Her vocals on the heartfelt lyrics are stellar. Combine that with words from her heart and you have something beautiful. The song embraces her relationship with her father after the loss of her mother. “Like A Prayer” sold more than 15 million copies and remains one of her most prolific to date. That says a lot, considering her track record. David T. Farr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.