Friday marked the 25th anniversary of Madonna’s Like A Prayer, and today I wanted to continue the celebration of her seminal album by revisiting a cover of the title track that has been one of my favorites for just as many years.
English singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding (aka Wesley Stace) released his version of “Like A Prayer” in April 1989, just a month after Madonna released the original single.
Both artists were signed to Sire Records at the time, which might have had something to do with Harding’s selection. His earnest take on “Like A Prayer” was one of four songs on God Made Me Do It: The Christmas EP, issued nearly a year ahead of Harding’s debut album, Here Comes The Groom.
In an interview segment featured on the same EP (“A Cosy Promotional Chat”), Harding professes his love for the American folk scene of the ’60s and ’70s, and singer-songwriters like Phil Ochs, John Prine, and Steve Goodman.
“But,” he continued, “I’m also into a lot of incredibly popular modern things, as we all are, like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. They sing and write some great folk songs but people are always a bit snobby about them — and so am I, sometimes — but I wanted to synthesize the two and make that folk tradition more available to people.”
And thus we have Harding’s fantastic “power-folk” rendition of “Like A Prayer,” still holding strong like the original, even as 25 years have since passed.
[This post has been edited from its original September 27, 2009 appearance.]