Saturday, 31 July 2010

A bit of a Prince Tangent.

So just as I was about to get out of the car yesterday morning, the radio blasted out 'When Doves Cry.' That was it, I couldn't move. I sat holding my shopping bags, engine off, window down, just grooving along to the wonder that is Prince.

I may not have told you this before - but I heart the minute purple one big time. Have done ever since I was 11 years old and 'Let's go Crazy' hit the top ten. I was hooked. I hired the VHS of Purple Rain (all padded sponge filled cover in true 80s style), then bought it and fell in love. The movie is terrible, I know, but I love it. I watched it the morning my son was born - telling myself not to be nervous, that there was, there is, and there always will be Prince in my life - so all was well. I know it word for word. I even bought 'Under a Cherry Moon' a few years later - and it really is a woeful film. After wearing out my LP version of Purple Rain, I discovered his back catalogue - Purple Rain being his 6th album. The early two funk-fests aren't bad - but Controversy and Dirty Mind are amazing. Then there is the masterpiece that is 1999.

On a trip to London in 1985 I went to HMV on Oxford St - seemed thrilling - and bought 'Around the World in a Day.' Raspberry Beret is possibly one of my top 3 Prince tracks of all time - but Paisley Park isn't far behind. He was such an escape in my teenage years... I'd stick my Prince album on my tiny little record player - switch it to 33 speed and drift off into my own fantasy land where Prince would whisk me off to Minneapolis and make me his purple bride.

What was it about him that I loved? Apart from the fact he produced, composed, arranged, performed and played every instrument on his records, he was quirky, sexy and boy he could move. He thrusted and jiggled across a stage in a way that only Mick Jagger could in years gone by. And his peepers? WOW.

1987 brought his finest album - EVER - in my humble opinion. If you have never listened to Sign o The Times - go buy it. Seriously. If you hate it - mail me and I'll give you the cash back. Oh. My. God. A double album - 4 sides of heaven. I'm no rock journo sadly (what a cool job eh?) but feck me, Starfish and Coffee, The Cross, I could never take the place of your man, U got the Look, Hot thing and the amazing 'If I was your Girlfriend' just blew me away.

I remember sitting with my sort-of step sister in our driveway, blaring the music out the windows on a hot summers day, singing along to 'Sign O The Times' and wondering what 'getting high on reefer' meant. My whole teenage years are peppered with Prince memories: when a girl at school tried to convince me the masked woman in the 'Kiss' video was in fact a man and Prince was gay; when my first love sat with me at 17 in a study room at school and it began to snow, just before Easter and he said 'Sometimes it Snows in April' (from the Parade album - 1986). When the record store in town painted a massive picture of the cover of the 'Love Sexy' album in 1988 - and I wished I could win it with all my heart. Listening over and over to Graffiti Bridge in Berlin when I was 17 and visiting my boyfriend - feeling like such a grown up, living with him at his Dad's flat, just after the wall came down...

In '87 when friend of mine fell in a scalding bath and was in hospital for weeks and I made her a Prince mix tape (only she and my mate Dax understood the amazingness of Prince Rogers Nelson - and regularly we mulled over his latest offering). The time when I was due to see the Sign of the Times gig in London - my Uncle was going to take me, I was only 14, - and I was up a mountain, soaking wet doing a Duke of Edinburgh award and someone with a tinny radio called out 'Hey, Prince has cancelled his London gigs' and I cried the whole 6 miles down the fucking mountain.

He did the same to me in 1990. Dax and I sneakily got hammered on a flight together to London - him to see his Dad - me to see my step-Sis, the very day we should have been in Cork getting down to The Black Album tour. I did finally get to see him - The Diamonds and Pearls tour 1992, and in 93 the Symbol tour - when I got back to my best mate's student flat in Leeds and got stoned and then convinced myself Prince was the anti-christ! All that backwards writing, the 'Thieves of the Temple' lyrics - book of Revelations, how Satan will walk amongst us and be known blah blah. Great weed, clearly. Finding the (then) elusive Black Album in Camden Market whilst at Uni in '91. Listening to the Batman soundtrack when my CGSEs had finished...

And then somewhere after about '94 I lost my way with his Purpleness a bit. The albums kept a coming - but they just didn't hit the spot. Emancipation, the Gold Album - all duds. He returned to form with Musicology and now 2010. I saw him when he played his 21 date tour of the 02 in 2007. I'm not the mega fan hairdresser I know who paid to see every one of those nights... I can't recall 'the wilderness years' between 95 - 2005 when he released stuff from his NPG club or through The Crystal Ball website.

But I love him. Because he is a genius. Because he is kind of other-worldly and obviously bonkers. Because he gives interviews where he speaks through someone else. Because he looks amazing. But most of all because his music really touches me - in a way no other artist ever has or will. I air guitared beautifully to the last chords of Let's go Crazy on my wedding day - and at every important moment of my life, he's been there. And yesterday, sitting in the car, it reminded me how I love hearing an old song of his, totally out of the blue - a little magical gift in my day. This may just be the dorkiest post I have ever written. Oh well.

Long may his Purple Highness reign....

1 comment:

Keenie Beanie said...

You've inspired me to dig out my copy of Sign o' the Times, which I haven't listened to in AGES. I remember watching the MTV world premiere of the Kiss video (remember those days when premiere videos were a big deal?) and just not getting it. Why is this guy singing like a girl? But now that is, by far, my favorite Prince track.