From a Newsweek profile on Prince in 2004 (during a pre-show soundcheck): “The 5-foot-2 singer adjusts the long poet sleeves of his with blouse, strokes his goatee, fidgets with his diamond-encrusted pendant and taps his platform heel on the concrete of this sports arena in Reno, Nevada. He leans over to [the writer} and whispers,”I’ll give you 20 bucks if you yell ‘Freebird.’ C’mon,” he says. “25 if you shout ‘Skynyrd, dude!'”
That quote has nothing really to do with this post. I was reading a tribute to the Purple One in a magazine, found that quote and thought it was funny and revealing.
I mentioned in my Favorite Guitarists post that Prince was one of those. Prior to that, I don’t think I had written about him much since my post on his untimely death back in 2016. (Not three months after David Bowie’s passing. Not a good year.)
But it wasn’t just Prince’s guitar playing that I dug although that was an important component of it. I mentioned in my post back then that I had been turned on to Prince’s music by a guy I was working with, a black guy who was listening to this stuff while I was digging the Police.
We were driving around somewhere and he put on a tape (remember tape?) of Prince’s Controversy album, his fourth. Now I grew up in Philly listening to a lot of doo-wop, a lot of soul, a lot of R&B. But funk, not so much. And I wasn’t (and am not) much of “dance music” kind of guy.
But I tell you what. There was (and is) something catchy and infectious about the title song. Wikipedia says, “The song addresses speculation about Prince at the time such as his sexuality, gender, religion, and racial background, and how he could not understand the curiosity surrounding him.”
Plus how could you not be interested in an album whose next two songs were “Sexuality,” and “Do Me, Baby.” Here’s “Controversy.” (Forget finding Prince studio stuff on YouTube:)
In 1984, Prince released an album and movie called Purple Rain, which kicked his fame into the stratosphere. Perhaps sacrilegiously, while I like the title song, I am really not that big a fan of it.
But I really, really dug the song “Let’s Go Crazy” and I still have it on my iPod to listen to on the rare occasions when I get off my ass and go to the gym. There is some great guitar playing in here and Prince ends the tune with a straight-up blues lick way up on the 14th fret. (I learned it.)
Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today
To get through this thing called life
Electric word life it means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you there’s something else (Go crazy)
We saw Prince way back in 1997. To this day, one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Prince was not only great at everything but he was quite the showman. The thing I remember most as I noted previously is he asked that parents take kids (why where they even there?) out of the room so he could sing “Sexy M.F.” (I’m not being coy. That’s the name of the song, okay motherfuckers?)
In my great guitarists’ post, I specifically mentioned “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad.” I think I was somewhat giddy about this tune as, while researching this post, I had re-discovered it. Not only a great song but a phenomenal solo and the only other Prince one I’ve learned.
This is from his second 1979 album simply called Prince.
In 1986, his Purpleness released a not-quite-as-celebrated-as-Purple Rain movie called Under the Cherry Moon. The accompanying soundtrack (for whatever reason) was called Parade. And from that album is a song that NME ranked the song number 4 in their list of The 150 Greatest Singles of All Time. Here is “Kiss,” a song that Tom Jones did a pretty good cover of.
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned being turned onto this stuff by my co-worker Andre. He also played me the song “Head.” And yes, it’s about oral sex and this is because, well, Prince had a dirty mind. I know this because that is the name of the album it came from. Enjoy!
I know you’ve likely all heard this, but as a bonus here is Prince and a bunch of other dudes you’ll recognize playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Prince crushes his solo and pretty much everybody else on stage.
Sources Wikipedia:; Newsweek, Rolling Stone