Saturday, 30 April 2016

Prince (1958 - 2016)

On notice
Prince Rogers Nelson who died on the 21st of April 2016 belongs in the catalogue of contemporary musicians I have always admired for musicality and ability; it is a shame I never got to see him live before.
The first I heard of Prince was when a classmate sang at any opportunity in boarding school, the words of I wanna by your lover, in fact, he screeched, “I ain't got no money”, played air guitar and attempted a beatbox of the instrumentation.
An uncle returning from the UK updated our electronics with a stereo system, a turntable, a colour television and scores of hit records from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, amongst which was Prince’s album and a better idea of what my classmate was trying to mimic.
Then, Prince was naughty, but Rick James, Millie Jackson and Betty Wright were dirtier, and this was before “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” became a sticker on albums and CDs, all because of his Darling Nikki that got Tipper Gore to found The Parents Music Resource Center.
I digressed, Prince made music for adults as well as touching on many social and political issues, I remember the Ebony magazine juxtaposing him with André Cymone, much history and commentary.
Becoming a fan
However, many albums later, I got the Emancipation album with 3 CDs as a birthday/Christmas present in December 1996, since I am one of the lucky ones who has a birthday just a few days before Christmas. That was when I realised how prolific Prince was in producing not just hits, but amazing music.
Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, When Doves Cry, Sign O’ the Times, Get Off, 1999, Cream, Diamonds and Pearls, Kiss had all caught my attention in the midst of other interests that now included a better appreciation of classical music too. Yes, visit Prince Vault to get an idea of all that he did.
There is much to write about the lines in the many songs he wrote and performed singularly playing all the instruments and only needing accompaniment at live performances and concerts, the covers he performed too got a unique sound from his rendition.
Words and swords
Some of the moving lyrics I could just listen to and reflect:
Oh yeah
In France a skinny man
Died of a big disease with a little name
By chance his girlfriend came across a needle
And soon she did the same
At home there are seventeen-year-old boys
And their idea of fun
Is being in a gang called The Disciples
High on crack, totin' a machine gun.
Lyrics from Sign O’ the Times
I guess because of the way I literally wore the play of my Emancipation CDs on my multi-changer CD-playing stereo, it became from use, my best Prince album, which does not take away from other wonderful albums and singles from Prince’s repertoire of talent, genius and mastery.
Let's go down 2 the holy river
If we drown then we'll be delivered.

...
If U ask God 2 love U longer
Every breath U take will make U stronger
Keepin' U happy (happy) and proud 2 call His name
(Go'n and say it)
Jesus
(Jesus)

Lyrics from The Holy River
Quite typical to think you’ll come to no harm or some redemption if you jumped into a holy river. I remember being served ‘holy’ water by my mother, it had been prayed over by some prophet and stored that it stunk and it sickened me, but she never thought the water having been prayed over could become harmful. This should be played at  a proposal and at wedding receptions.
Then Prince covered Joan Osborne’s One Of Us, and whilst, I had heard it before, it was imprinted by Prince’s performance. He replaced slob with slave in his rendition.
What if God was one of us
Just a slob (slave) like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
Just trying to make his way home
Back up to heaven all alone
Nobody calling on the phone,
'Cept for the Pope, maybe, in Rome
Lyrics from One of Us.
The Holy River
For all his eccentricities and there were many, he was a performer and an entertainer a class apart, employing talent regardless of gender, pushing boundaries, and I think much will be written of this music revolutionary in years and decades to come. It is rumoured he left a vault of unpublished material and much as it would be interesting to listen to some of that, it is unlikely that they’ll have the kind of quality Prince would have liked to bring to their release.
It is difficult to write a fitting tribute to Prince as a fan of his music apart from constantly playing back his music and reviewing the commentary that comes with every single published work whilst he was alive as documented by sites like Prince Vault. I did not feel this way about Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston.
Without a doubt, each and every one of his songs had depth in the lyrics or the performance, the music world knows for sure that this man was a great loss. For me, saddened as I am, whatever ailed him in life, may his soul rest in peace.
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He is now in the holy river, delivered from all the worries, sorrow and grief. Being a religious man, he probably made sure of this.
That's when u find out that u're better off
Makin' sure your soul's alright
Lyrics from Money Don’t Matter 2 Night.
Mostly, he was capable of great emotional expression and I will remember him for the many excerpts that mean a lot from his music.
Friend, lover, sister, mother/wife
Air, food, water, love of my life.
Lyrics from Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/Wife

Lemme show you baby, I'm a talented boy
Lyrics from Get Off

Nobody can dispute this fact. Requiescat in pace, Prince Rogers Nelson.
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