The first time I remember seeing or hearing Prince was the “Little Red Corvette” video. I was at a sleepover at a friend’s house. I was 11 years old and I was pretty sure I knew everything about everything. I was, of course, wrong.
We laughed about his fruity look and completely missed most of the dirty references (“a pocket full of horses, Trojans, and some of them used”). Who was this guy? None of my pals were into Prince…yet.
When seventh grade started in September there was a new kid in school. Rich was a Latino kid who moved from New York, and he knew how to do the wave. I sat by him in Mr. Bergin’s homeroom and he regaled me with stories about breakdancing competitions back home. Our school district was extremely white, and we must have made Rich feel like an exotic alien. He was a badass. By the end of the year a bunch of classmates — led by Rich — had their own breaking crew who blew away everyone else in the talent show.
That summer, my friends and I would go to the Plainfield Dance every Saturday night. It was held in a roller skating rink and attracted kids from all over the area, including the inner city. You follow where I’m going with this? It was my first opportunity as a kid to be around black people. My friends and I were too self-conscious to dance, but we’d walk around the rink looking at girls and listening to music.
The music was different from what was being played on the radio, including strange electro grooves that would end up triggering us to make a big circle around the breakdancers as they impressed everybody with their latest moves. They’d challenge each other and battle on the floor. The coolest thing I ever saw was when Rich — after a dizzying assortment of helicopter spins — concluded by coming to an abrupt halt and simultaneously grabbing his nuts with one hand and pointing at a rival with the other. The place exploded.
This video has long been my go-to mood enhancer. Of the many, many amazing performances Prince has recorded over the years, this is the one I go back to again and again. There are so many reason why, but a few that come to mind are:
If I could play guitar like anyone it would be Jay Bennett, George Harrison or Prince. This hits two of the three
Prince’s inclusion elevates the performance from a tribute from pals (famous and talented ones, at that) to a celebration of a song and its writer who inspired and affected so many people
Prince absolutely mops the floor with his solo
His guitar disappears at the end. Seriously, where did it go?
The look on Dhani Harrison’s face throughout Prince’s solo is pure gold
Prince’s Guitar Solo during “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the 2004 Hall of Fame Inductions
There are few celebrity deaths that would affect me personally—unlike that of a family member or friend, I might miss their artistry, but not their person. Prince’s death has affected me though. I am genuinely sad to hear of his passing. I think it’s because his public persona, the character he’s created and refined throughout his years as a public figure, is exactly what we want musicians to be. Yes, he was successful financially. More importantly, he was unique but cognizant and respectful of what had come before him. He confounded us with genre mash-ups and confusing name changes. He was the guy who wrote “Darling Nikki” and then extolled the virtues of being a Jahovah’s Witness. He was…interesting. Endlessly interesting.
He really seemed to exist on a higher plane.
If anyone felt music, it was Prince. You can see it in his face and his body. He created the wavelengths and then let himself be taken by them. He had that golden combination of science and soul. I don’t think Prince ever once in his life simply ran scales.
So yes, I am sad today and will genuinely miss Prince’s existence in the world. And I’ll lean heavily on my go-to mood enhancer to get through it.
It’s unfortunate, but I am forced to consider matters of sexual content in nearly every form of media when it is in proximity to my children, ages six and two. It’s a shame because it forces my wife and I to take on the role of entertainment babysitter at all times and the only form of relief is when we put the channel on something that’s exclusively for the age group we’ve sired.
What that means is that our television is continually on this shitty network called Sprout and we’ve both agreed that if we ever come across a real world replica of the cartoon character Calliou, we are going to kill and dismember the little bastard.
When it comes to matters of music, it’s a touchier subject. It goes without saying that I’m pretty opinionated when it comes to matters of controlling our family’s musical playlist and, goddamnit, I don’t feel the need to acquiesce when we’re considering what’s appropriate for the ears of our children. After all, I was fucking raised on Sgt. Pepper’s, Beggars Banquet and Jesus Christ Superstar. I’ll be damned if I’m forced to spin Kids Bop or some album by The Wiggles just to ensure our kids aren’t subjected to an f-bomb, a lemon squeeze, or fifty foot queenies.
As a result, my two-year-old daughter now has a penchant for The Runaways.
Then, in the midst of all this chaos, you informed us that the screaming itself was the sound that doves make when they cry. And, I mean, what? No it’s not. Crying doves sound like terrified ornithologists exchanging screams with a sexy, sexy pop singer? Or was that squeal thing you did supposed to be the crying doves? How did it go? “Aii! Aii! Aii! Aiaiaiai!” It was a massive turn-on, but it was not science.
PFU has been contacted by Prince’s Management and we are currently in discussions.
We are hopeful that an amicable resolution can be reached wherein all can co-exist peacefully on the internet. However, if the talks are unsuccessful, the Prince Fans United Group vows to continue its fight. In the meantime, Prince has provided “Prince Fans United” with the song named “PFUnk” for your listening pleasure.
Prince is a badass. He recently pissed off the entire music retail industry in the U.K. by including a copy of his latest album in each copy of a daily newspaper. This, of course, wasn’t the first time Prince has challenged the status quo. Jon Pareles breaks it down for the New York Times:
Prince’s priorities are obvious. The main one is getting his music to an audience, whether it’s purchased or not. “Prince’s only aim is to get music direct to those that want to hear it,” his spokesman said when announcing that The Mail would include the CD. (After the newspaper giveaway was announced, Columbia Records’ corporate parent, Sony Music, chose not to release “Planet Earth” for retail sale in Britain.) Other musicians may think that their best chance at a livelihood is locking away their music — impossible as that is in the digital era — and demanding that fans buy everything they want to hear. But Prince is confident that his listeners will support him, if not through CD sales then at shows or through other deals.
Prince steps into the cultural madness and freakshow that is the Super Bowl halftime event to show America what it means to blow this motherfucker out.
The Super Bowl halftime show has become as much a part of the event as the game itself. What started with college marching bands filling time between halves has evolved (or devolved, as the case may be) into an entertainment extravaganza that rivals the most elaborate North Korean flip tile spectacle and is a tacit acknowledgement that the performer is a bona fide cultural icon. That kind of elevation is generally a sign that the artist in question has also probably passed into artistic irrelevancy. That’s why it was so great to see The Purple One put on an exhibition of true rock genius.