It’s been exactly five years ago today since the passing of America’s most prolific member of musical royalty. Prince Rogers Nelson died on April 21, 2016. I, for one, was devastated to lose him.
However, my journey as a fan has been a rough one. In the 1980s while my friends were rocking out to Purple Rain, I was hardly on board. I thought this guy was just an oversexed weirdo who made obvious rock anthems. Then, in high school, a brilliant, eccentric, music-loving, anti-establishment co-conspirator friend named Ian handed me a mixed tape.
This thing changed my world. Not only was Prince putting down more than I could understand at the time, but the guitar, those lyrics, and the controversial take on sexuality spoke to my soul. Thank you, Ian!
Since then I’ve been a die-hard fan. I stayed with Prince through the Symbol, through the New Power Generation, and was lucky enough to see his last set of shows in LA. Now, I miss him. So let’s look at some of his less-known sub-hits and how they truly represent His Royal Badness.
Starfish & Coffee
Innocence isn’t something most of us associate with Prince. But he was a master storyteller both in his songwriting and his films. This track not only reminds us that this is a man who believed in the mystical and also embraced the magic of childhood. Give this track a listen and you’ll never look at a lunchbox the same way again.
Speaking of songwriting, we all know that Price was the King. Or whatever. From Sinead O’Connor‘s Nothing Compares to You to Chaka Kahn’s I Feel For You, Prince’s songs extended far past his own records.
Very people associate ‘Manic Monday’ with the Bangles’ hit, but Prince orginally wrote the song for Apollonia 6 under the pseudonym Christopher. He performed the song himself, but it wasn’t a hit. The world probably wasn’t ready to listen to his morning fantasy of ‘kissin’ Valentino by a crystal blue Italian stream’ in the 1980s.
I know you may already know this song. But if you haven’t listened to it in a while, I BEG YOU, do it. The layering of sitar, hip hop, tables, and insane harmonies create a world music complexity that’s way ahead of its time.
Then there’s the spiritual stuff. Not bad for a kid raised a Jehovah’s Witness.
Joy In Repetition
If you’ve ever seen Prince live, you know that his guitar solos will bring tears to the most jaded eyeballs. While Purple Rain and Little Red Corvette get all the press, this little song sits quietly, softly, super sexily in the background panting, “there’s Joy in Repetition.”
His guitar riffs may not be the longest nor the most boastful, but they chime right in at the exact moment you need them, poking in that one spot. You know the one. The spot where you don’t think a song can get any better and then, just like that, it does.
Whether you’re gay, straight, bi, or omnisexual, Prince consistently provides the perfect soundtrack to sexual awakening. Those are just facts. It’s hard (all puns intended) to pick the sexiest Prince song, but one is really a one-size-fits-all. Between the lyrics, the tempo, and the funk Prince gives us permission to embrace all of the dirty thoughts that have raced through our minds. Although ’23 positions in a one-night stand’ is impressive, even by slutty standards.
This is my all-time favorite Prince song. He may never break his falsetto and hits notes impossibly high in the vocals, but it never once feels cheezy. It feels like the ultimate love song. Sure, ‘Here I go again, fallin’ in love all over’ is lovely, but ‘making you a coat of pink of cashmere’ is a metaphor for the ages. I don’t care who you are, or who you want in your bed, you want that damn coat.
Every time I listen to this song, I’m captivated from start to finish. By the time it’s over, I feel like I’ve gone on a journey into someone else’s heart.
Thank you Prince. Thank you for the music, the stories, the permission to be ourselves, whatever that may be. May you rest in freaky peace.