So after hearing the news of Prince Rogers Nelson's untimely passing, I scanned this blog to see what I had said about him previously.
Back in 2008, I mentioned his religious beliefs. (As far as I can tell, he died a Jehovah's Witness.) This quote from Prince may be appropriate in this election year.
“So here’s how it is: you’ve got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to this.” He pointed to a Bible. “But there’s the problem of interpretation, and you’ve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn’t. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you’ve got blue, you’ve got the Democrats, and they’re, like, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.”
My 2009 reference was a little buried. In the course of admiring Eddie Murphy's song "My God Is Color Blind," I said the following:
It was Wednesday night (I guess that makes it alright) when I found that Steven Perez shared a video on FriendFeed. The video involved Prince's competitor Rick James, and a singer named Eddie Murphy.
The next reference, later in 2009, was made in the course of not admiring Michael Jackson.
...one would think that one would be celebrating the music of Jackson - and he was clearly musically talented - but the emphasis on superlative numbers that colored all perception of Jackson throughout his life continues to haunt him after his death. Sadly, part of this was Jackson's own fault - even Prince wouldn't name his best-of album "HIStory" with a capital "HIS."
A little later, I mentioned Prince along with other influencers and influencees, including Sylvester Stewart and Joni Mitchell:
Prince attended one of my concerts in Minnesota. I remember seeing him sitting in the front row when he was very young. He must have been about 15. He was in an aisle seat and he had unusually big eyes. He watched the whole show with his collar up, looking side to side. You couldn’t miss him—he was a little Prince-ling. [Laughs.] Prince used to write me fan mail with all of the U’s and hearts that way that he writes. And the office took it as mail from the lunatic fringe and just tossed it!
By 2010, I had moved on to Sheila E., and (possibly) another Sheila:
Now I was never really impressed with Ready for the World back in the day, since they appeared to have Prince's smuttiness without the talent. "(pant) (pant) (pant) Oh Sheila," indeed.
Enter the Human League, and one of my favorite songs from the band, "Love on the Run." What does that have to do with Prince? This song is about the only song that escaped the clutches of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who had left The Time to strike out on their own. But before they left The Time, Jam & Lewis learned one thing from Prince - and it wasn't a good thing.
That's when the "hot producers" idea kicked in, and an agreement was reached to have Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produce the band. Jam and Lewis, ex-members of the Time, were the hot producers of the moment. Three facts about Jam and Lewis were pertinent:
First, they learned their chops under Prince, who was well known for his controlling nature over projects.
Second, they had just finished working with Janet Jackson on an album called "Control."
Third, the majority of the songwriting credits on the song "Control" were held by Jam and Lewis.
Even if you had never heard the story before, you can probably guess how it's going to end.
By December, I was quoting Bob Geldof to introduce the Billy Crystal parody song "I Am Also The World." The text of my post didn't explain why Crystal wrote the song, but let's just say that the star-studded recording of "We Are The World" was a little less star-studded than it could have been. Anyway, since I didn't talk about that in the post, I'll go ahead and quote what Bob Geldof said:
I am responsible for two of the worst songs in history. One is Do They Know It’s Christmas? and the other one is We Are The World.
Any day soon, I will go to the supermarket, head to the meat counter and it will be playing. Every ****ing Christmas.
By 2011, I was talking about compelling songs, including one written by Prince that was made famous by someone else (without Prince's involvement, by the way):
After persusing Spinner's list of 25 very sad songs, you can definitely see some moving ones in the list. Here are my favorites:
"Nothing Compares 2 U." Start with the work that Prince put into the song, both musically and lyrically, and then add Sinead O'Connor's performance to it. Very downlifting....
And that 2011 mention is (unless I missed something) the last time that I mentioned Mr. Nelson in this blog until today. There are a number of reasons for this, but one major one is my age and his age. We are more inclined to talk about music that was popular in our younger years, and artists themselves are more likely to achieve massive popularity in their younger years. Note that my mentions of Prince were often paired with mentions of other artists who originally achieved fame decades ago - Rick James, Eddie Murphy, Michael Jackson, Sylvester Stewart, Joni Mitchell, Sheila E., Ready for the World, the Human League, Jam & Lewis, Bob Geldof, Billy Crystal, and Sinead O'Connor. I've just listed all of the guest stars in a bad VH-1 "Remember the 80s" special.
But look at the breadth of these artists. Now many good artists are inspired by, and inspire, a variety of other artists from different types of music. These varied inspirations create masterful syntheses of different types of music. Prince certainly had his share of inspirations. Take the "Purple Rain" album - I've never listened to the whole thing, but going from the gospel-ish "Purple Rain" to the minimalist "When Doves Cry" to the psychedelic "Take Me With U" -
Wait, let's hold it right there, because there's something that has to be said about the guy. And I know he just died, but - THE DUDE COULDN'T SPELL WORTH A WHATEVER. Joni Mitchell referenced his spelling tendencies, and I've encountered message boards where the mark of a true Prince fan is to spell just like he does. (Including the unpronounceable symbol.)
It turns out that there's a name for this spelling.
I was going to reference an essay on Princebonics, but prince.org is unavailable at the moment. Perhaps by the time you see this post, you - and I - can read it.
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