Friday, March 27, 2020

"We Need a Purple High" - Lesser-Known Prince Podcast Episodes

      Photo by Jason Breininger

Whether it's books, blogs or video broadcasts, I spend a lot of time engaging content created by other superfans. While I love participating in such a fun, knowledgeable community, sometimes it's refreshing to step outside of the purple bubble to hear how casual fans feel about Prince.

Recently, I stumbled upon a few mainstream podcasts and I was delighted to find some Prince-related episodes among them. See below and please enjoy.


"Hit Parade": "Le Petty Prince Edition"

Slate's "Hit Parade" podcast is critic Chris Molanphy's well-researched show about popular music history with emphasis on chart analysis. His recent episode on Whitney Houston's career and what it means to have "crossover" success was amazing. So, I was really excited to check out his episode about Tom Petty and Prince from 2017.

Molanphy lays out the many parallels between Petty and Prince, including their chart dominance, success writing for other artists and record label battles. It gave me a new appreciation for Petty, whose career I didn't follow previously. And it was nice to hear how much Petty admired Prince, despite the Purple One's playful teasing during the greatest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction performance of all time.


"Rolling Stone Music Now": "The Power and Glory of Prince"

This episode of the music magazine's podcast came out just days after Prince passed away. The best part is hearing writer Brian Hiatt talk about his experience interviewing Prince for a 2014 cover story that was shelved until 2016. There are wonderful, behind-the-scenes tidbits, like the fact that Hiatt was quizzed on black artists before the interview began. I'm also glad Hiatt shared more information about their discussions on music. "He was as passionate and convincing a music fan as anyone I've ever spoken to in my life," Hiatt said. "He made me want to listen to whatever he was talking about, even if it was stuff I already loved."


"Switched on Pop": "Why U Love 2 Listen 2 Prince" 

Because this podcast is co-hosted by a musicologist, Nate Sloan, I find it more compelling than your average pop podcast. And this episode features guest Anil Dash, a technologist and entrepreneur who is well-known in the Prince fan community. But this was my first experience hearing Dash's take on the impact of technology on the sound of Prince's music. And I enjoyed hearing Dash's perspective on Prince's early adoption of the internet because Dash was there online in real time consuming the music. (Go even deeper on Dash's own podcast, "Function.") You can hear Sloan's mind being blown by Dash's analysis, which is evidence that even music aficionados haven't even scratched the surface on Prince. Come on, people!


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Friday, March 20, 2020

"She Loves Me 4 Me" - Song of the Month

Each month I will share some brief, personal thoughts on one of my favorite Prince songs.


On April 17, I'll have my hands on the vinyl reissue of Prince's 2001 album, The Rainbow Children. I'm hoping the world will be in a better state, but, come what may, the music will provide the necessary joy and comfort. When I hear "She Loves Me 4 Me," I think back to the summer before I started college. I was living in a cramped room in my mother's house and I think I was working a retail job I hated, but I had a copy of The Rainbow Children on CD to lift my spirits. This is one of the most beautiful songs Prince has ever written, and I hope more people in the general public hear it so they can appreciate the breadth of his talent. I remember listening to the lyrics and feeling so happy for him. "I don't have to live up to no one's fantasy/I can write another 300 melodies, but to her it's just three, 'cause this one, she loves me for me," he sings. So many of us love Prince for his music, but it was great to think of him finding someone--or yearning for someone--who could appreciate him for who he was behind the image he worked so hard to maintain. I drank in every phrase and guitar lick. Even though he was very Christian at that point, he still slid a naughty line in there: "She got the ride that I like to ride" (listen to that sexy guitar part underneath). I loved thinking about the possibility of settling down with someone who could meet all of your needs. I remember playing this song for my mom (she probably didn't like it as much as I thought she did) and gushing about this album. It's truly the project that made me a devoted fan. Thanks, Prince.

What's your favorite song on the album? 


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Friday, March 13, 2020

"The New Power Generation" - My Niece's Thoughts on Prince

This is the final installment of my "Prince + Family Series," which has featured my dad and my mom. I wanted to get the opinion of someone younger. My niece is 13 years old and an artist herself, so I thought she'd be the perfect subject.

Our interview reinforced a few things: The young people in your life are always paying attention to your interests; Prince still inspires discussions about gender and sexuality; and his talent is undeniable.

As part of our chat, I showed my niece three Prince videos. I wanted to capture different periods of his career and pick clips that would keep her attention. And I chose a personal favorite of mine from the '90s era. I recorded her immediate reactions.

At the end of the post, you'll see a quick discussion with my sister—the only person on the planet who likes the movie Graffiti Bridge as much as I do.


Interview with My Niece

What do you know about Prince?

His song "Purple Rain" was a big hit in America and he would always wear high-heeled boots, eyeliner, mascara and always have a dot on his face, right on his cheekbone—I think it was a mole or maybe he placed it there. And he would always wear nice suits. And I didn’t understand why he would wear (what he wore). At first I thought he was gay. ... He played a lot of instruments. I heard that he was a very good musician. I heard he was really talented.

What do you remember about the day he died?

I was in my living room. We were watching the news; I think it was the "Today" show. We [eventually] heard he died from an overdose. We were so surprised. ... I was like, “Oh my gosh, all the legends are dying.” It was kinda sad. I didn’t really listen to his music, but I know he was a legend.

You know more than I thought you did.

I always do my research. I knew that you, Auntie, loved him and I was just like, "Why does she love him so much?" So I looked on YouTube, saw some of his shows. Me and my stepdad were watching a documentary on TV and I saw the high-heeled boots. They talked about the makeup and the magazines. They talked about him and his wife. I looked at how he was dancing in those high-heeled boots and I was just like, "My back would be hurting if I was dancing in some heels, too."

I don’t really think about him that much anymore now that he’s deceased. I wasn’t really into his music. Michael Jackson was the go-to. But some people are real Prince fans so I think they might know more than I do.


My Niece's Reactions to Prince's Videos

“Kiss” (1986)


Back then (those midriff shirts) didn’t mean you were gay or bi. Men would wear that. This is jammin’. He always had that little booty. I guess I would be attracted to him in some way. He’s goofy.

Ayee, get it! Ayee, get it!

Why is (the woman) wearing that on her head?


“Willing and Able” (1991)


He’s wearing a scarf that you wear to bed! Oh my gosh, those heels …

It was kinda weird that he was wearing that [outfit]—the clothes and the heels. I’m still confused about why he’s wearing that stuff. It’s nice but if I was to date him, and we’re getting ready, we both have to do our makeup, we both have to put on our heels. But that’s him.

I think the video overall was pretty nice. I like how they arranged it with the cameras and I like the singers. They were really good. I wonder who that one singer was [Rosie Gaines]. It wasn’t as interesting as “Kiss,” [though]. That had a little bit more funk to it. This one is like a jazz-pop song.


“Black Sweat” (2006)


I was born in 2006!

His hairstyle has changed. He looks older. I think he looks a little bit more masculine as he got older. It’s funny because you don’t see him moving around as much.

Um … why do they have that lady screaming like that?

That was really, really cool. [But] I didn’t understand the purpose of “Black Sweat.” She’s black and she’s sweating? Is she mad because there’s sweat on her?

No song I’ve heard of his is boring. Usually, people make albums and then it’ll be like one good song and then the rest will sound like they’re practicing. But he sounds like he knows what he’s doing. He looks handsome.


Of the three videos, which is your favorite?

“Black Sweat.” It was chill and it was up-to-date. 

Does this make you want to listen to more of his music?

Yeah, I want to know more about him but I feel like it would make me sad because I would wish I would have met him. So I think I’ll stay where I’m at. 


Q&A with My Sister

Why do you like Graffiti Bridge?

I think it’s just what we were exposed to [when we were younger]. I thought he was weird, of course, but I enjoyed the songs and the rivalry between him and Morris Day in the movie. I thought that was funny and I felt sorry for [Prince] because they made fun of him, but it was entertaining. I like Tevin Campbell’s song, too. The music is the best part of the movie. 

How does your relationship with Michael Jackson compare?

I was more of a Michael Jackson fan, so I paid more attention to him than anybody. I couldn’t believe that you got into Prince so heavily because we grew up with Michael. You can’t really compare the two artists. They’re worlds apart. The only difference between he and Michael that puts Prince just a notch above is that he is a musician who played all those instruments. [But] I remember as a young kid feeling like I was going to pass out when I saw other people pass out from seeing Michael, and how big he was and almost not even human. 

I just feel like Prince was more controversial, not only his music, but how he lived his life before the whole Jehovah’s Witness thing. It’s what people are accepting and doing now and he was doing that 20 years ago. He didn’t have a gender [expression]. He wasn’t male or female, really. He was just queer [aesthetically]. He set a precedent for what we see now. He was called weird then, but it’s accepted now, so he was ahead of his time. 

Would you call yourself a Prince fan?

I don’t know enough. I can’t even really remember the song titles. I remember the music. I never thought to go to a concert. I’m saddened that I wasn’t able to go to a Michael Jackson concert and I grew up watching Michael Jackson’s videos over and over again, listening to his music over and over again, practicing his moves over and over again and idolizing all of his choreography and trying to learn every bit of it. I didn’t do that with Prince.

Do you think Prince is a good dancer?

I thought he was cool and he’s talented, but I never thought of him as a dancer. I think it’s neat acrobatics. 

Final thoughts? 

I respect him. I respect his talent. He gave other artists a position to be who they are and opened doors for other artists.


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Friday, March 6, 2020

"Just Like My Mother" - Mom's Thoughts on Prince

From left: Me, Mom and my sister

Last week, I interviewed my dad about Prince. This week, the focus is on my mom, another person who influenced my musical tastes. However, I think when you're growing up, you sometimes assume things about your family members' perspectives instead of asking them directly. Doing this interview with my mom gave me a better understanding of her relationship with Prince's music.

(And yes, just as I've neglected my dad, I need to do a better job of buying Prince music for my mom -- though only a little bit at a time.)

As I mentioned last week, she was born the same year as Prince and experienced his talent in real time. Here's her take on Prince in her customarily funny and blunt manner.

What was your impression of Prince's early career?

I was shocked to see his picture on his album cover [Prince, 1979]. He was naked and I guess back at that time, you're not used to seeing that. It was like, "Ooh, who is this guy?" He was new and it made you actually listen to his music.

And you said your older brother (Uncle Jr.) used to talk about Prince, right?

Well, by Jr. being a musician himself and playing the guitar himself, he was listening to the guitar when he was listening to his music. He used to always say, "That guy is gifted and he's getting ready to go big." He said, "He's a genius." All he ever talked about was Prince.

I thought Prince was ahead of his time as far as his type of music. I really liked him, everything about him. He was more rock 'n' roll because of the way he played his guitar, the heels he wore and the clothes he wore. Some of his music I couldn't get into.

Like what?

"Little Red Corvette" (1982). ... We were more into funk.

And you didn't like Dirty Mind (1980), right?

I could not get into that. That's what I mean; Prince was way out there. [Some of] Prince's music only meant something to him.

Dad said you didn't like that Prince put "The Lord's Prayer" in "Controversy" (1981). Why not?

Because of the type of person he was and everything he sung about and the way he acted, and then you're going to throw "The Lord's Prayer" in there? No.

I never bought his albums. I bought certain songs that I like. I think what really put me over on some of his songs was when he did the movie Purple Rain (1984).

What did you like about the movie?

It was silly. It was more of a comedy, but the music I really enjoyed and The Revolution [band]. That band is bad. And you've got two women? And they were bad. I loved his group. ... When he did that "Darling Nikki" on the stage, that was cold-blooded.

[But] Prince can't act. ... A lot of people watched Purple Rain because it was Prince and then once they watched it, they enjoyed it. If it hadn't been for Morris Day and having a little comedy in there, it might not have been all that good.

Did you like Under the Cherry Moon (1986)? 

That movie sucked. It wasn't about anything and he can't act.

Most fans like Under the Cherry Moon and hate Graffiti Bridge (1990). Why do you think our family liked Graffiti Bridge so much?

I didn't.

Really?

No.


via GIPHY

What did you think of Prince doing the entire Batman (1989) soundtrack?

That was a very big deal. That introduced [more] people to Prince. I was wowed by that because you've got Batman, Jack Nicholson and then you've got Prince doing the music. That was big.

Even if I don't own the music, I can sing to all of it. That Batman movie was good. And then all the rest of them got darker and darker.

Do you remember telling me you felt some of Prince's music was dark?

It might not have been so much dark; it might have been weird because he was ahead of his time and we weren't used to that.

With Prince, you started off nice with "Soft and Wet," and then you showed everybody you can play a guitar, and it just seemed like he just went over the edge. He got more--not wild--but it was weird. He just got more and more weird. His music got weird. No one could understand his music.

What did you think of his name change during the '90s?

I didn't understand the symbol. [I thought], "What is he smoking?"

What did you think of his conversion to the Jehovah's Witness faith?

I think he lost a bunch of his fans, which is sad. I thought it was a good thing.

Did you pay attention to him in the 2000s? 

I don't think I bought any of his later songs. I didn't like any of it. I guess maybe I didn't pay attention.

What Prince songs are on your iPod right now?

"Scandalous," "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad," "Anotherloverholenyohead," "Diamonds and Pearls," "Adore" and "Darling Nikki." I like "Soft and Wet," I just haven't bought it yet.

Aw man, you need to have at least 30 Prince songs on there.

I mean, he can be a genius and he can be great, but I'm only going to buy what I like.

What is your all-time favorite Prince song?

"Adore." And then "Anotherloverholeinyohead." I love that!

Why didn't you see him live? 

I stopped going to any concerts when I had you and [your sister]. It was just too expensive. I just figured it's cheaper for me to buy the music.

Let's go back to that old 1980s debate: Prince or Michael Jackson?

I remember that crap. You can't compare that. Michael Jackson was a singer and performer. Prince was a musician. That's the difference. They're not in the same class. If I had to pick one I'm going to pick Prince. Not everybody can play a guitar and write music.

Overall, what did you like most about Prince?

I admired the way he performed. He's very gifted. He played the piano and he played that guitar like you wouldn't believe. I give him his props for that--with his little short self.


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Friday, February 28, 2020

"Just Like My Father" - Dad's Thoughts on Prince



I am indebted to my parents for instilling in me a love of black music. I grew up appreciating artists like Prince because of them. They were both born the same year as Prince and grew up with him in a way. It's fun to imagine them experiencing his music in real time.

Prince was beloved by black people in the '70s, and my parents also gravitated toward his music. They appreciated his entire career, but fell away from him at times. They understood that he didn't want to be pigeonholed as a black artist, but still felt something was missing for them during his crossover to the mainstream in the mid-80s.

Besides the early stuff, my Dad loves songs like "Pop Life" and "If I Was Your Girlfriend." While most Prince fans hate Graffiti Bridge, my whole family embraced that movie. I think it's because a lot of it is rooted in blackness, featuring black royalty like Mavis Staples and George Clinton. While the script is lacking, many of the musical performances are incredible.

My dad never saw Prince live, but reconnected with his music before he died. I think I made sure he checked out 3121 (he likes "Te Amo Corazón") and Lotusflow3r (he's a fan of "Colonized Mind"). Lately I've been a bad daughter; I need to buy him all of the posthumous releases, especially the Originals album. He was asking me for more information about Prince's relationship with The Time and Alexander O'Neal, so I need to get him Morris Day's book, too!

So often we are busy just enjoying the music and not taking time to reflect on what it meant to us. To that end, it was wonderful to ask Dad some questions about Prince. Check out his answers below!


What was your first impression of Prince?

I remember both For You (1978) and Prince (1979). ... Usually you see (on the album) where different people write the songs. Well, he wrote everything and did all the instruments. All that was just amazing to me. I really liked that Prince album. I remember "When We're Dancing Close and Slow." I love that song! And of course I like "Sexy Dancer" and "Still Waiting."

You've said you love Dirty Mind (1980), but didn't you think his clothing was too racy at the time?

I did when I saw the album cover, but when I started listening to the music, it didn't bother me (anymore).

Did you like the song, "Head?"

Yeah! I wasn't going to (admit) that to you. ... You really don't pay attention to (his) lyrics because you go to the club and it's got a nice beat and everybody's up jammin' and dancing. But then once you get home and you start really listening to it, you're like, "Oh, that's what he's really talking about."

What do you remember about Controversy (1981)? 

I still remember your mother getting so mad--she won't even remember; she was so mad (about the title track) because it had "The Lord's Prayer" in it. I really didn't pay much attention to it until she said it.

My dad's copy of Controversy on 8-track

Did you like 1999 (1982)? 

Yeah, but not as much as his early stuff. Other audiences started liking him. I remember going to work and other people were saying, "Have you heard that Prince song, 'Little Red Corvette?' That's really nice!" And I'm like, "These people aren't even [really] listening to him." His music kinda changed a little bit, too. I liked his earlier music--it's kinda hard to explain--when it was more "him." ... I still liked him. I still liked his music but his early stuff is what I really love.

What about Purple Rain (1984)? 

I liked the movie more (than the album). ...  People at work were dressing up like him and going (to his concert). I don't know (why I didn't go), probably because I was working. I was working third shift then.

Did you like the movie, Under the Cherry Moon (1986)? 

I hated that movie. I was confused watching the whole thing. It made no sense to me. I still to this day don't understand it. I don't understand it.

You loved Graffiti Bridge (1990), but what did you think of him in the '90s, especially when he changed his name?

That's when he was with the New Power Generation, right? I have a few CDs from the '90s but I didn't keep up with it as much. I don't think it was "him."

I mean, this happened to Elvis, quite a few people. It probably even happened to Michael (Jackson), too. As they got older and as times changed, they fell out of the limelight a little bit. So I thought he was just trying to (get attention) because everybody was talking about how he changed his name, and that put him back out there.

Why did you start paying attention again in the 2000s?

It seemed like he got back to where he was more creative, like he was in the beginning.

Do you mean he seemed more in touch with black culture or his roots?

That's part of it but I don't want to say that's all of it. I just think he was back to where he was being more creative. It seemed like he went into a little lull there where he was just making music (to be making music).

What did you think of his performance of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on the day he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

I remember he (soloed) right in front of Tom Petty. I think he was messing with him, too!

Do you think he's underrated as a guitar player?

I hate to say it, but most black artists fall into that. Just because they're black (people think) the only thing they can do is R&B or hip-hop. And he's not the only one. You like Parliament-Funkadelic; if you go to any of their concerts or listen to their music, they can play anything. That's another reason why I like (Prince) so much because he can play anything. ... It was just natural.

How did you respond to his death?

That really hurt me. At first I didn't think it was true. He was always performing and I never really heard about him being ill so it was kind of a shock to me. It took me a while to really believe it until I started hearing it from you and some other people. That really hurt me. I think he had so much more to do and to pass on. I keep hearing about all these albums and stuff he had in the vault, so I'd love to hear some of that.


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Friday, February 21, 2020

"Save Me, Jesus" - Graham Central Station's Spiritual Messages


On April 17, the world will be reintroduced to Prince's 2001 album, The Rainbow Children. The release is just one of the Prince Estate's new reissues from the early aughts.

Many Prince fans know The Rainbow Children as the artist's "Jehovah's Witness album." He recorded it in the midst of his conversion to the faith. (He was officially baptized in 2003.) His spiritual mentor at the time was legendary bassist Larry Graham, who played with Sly and the Family Stone before forming his own funk band, Graham Central Station (GCS). Graham also contributed some bass work to The Rainbow Children.

But what were Graham's "Jehovah's Witness albums?" During our interview, he named two Graham Central Station records: Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It (1975) and Mirror (1976). He was baptized in 1975.

Given that Graham Central Station was one of Prince's favorite bands, Prince likely owned both on vinyl. And throughout his career, he performed "The Jam" (from Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It) regularly.


It's not known how Prince felt about the spiritual messages on the GCS albums as a teenager, but he'd eventually preach some of the same ideas as an adult.

Read more about GCS's references to scripture--from the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures--below.

Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It

"For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we will be changed." - 1 Corinthians 15:52

That verse describes the "Last Judgment" by Jesus Christ during the end of the world. Both the living and newly resurrected dead will be judged, and the righteous will live forever in paradise. The concept is depicted on the cover of Graham Central Station's Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It. Jesus, angels and what appears to be a demon are in the sky, while the members of GCS are on Earth, which is in the midst of turmoil.

Larry Graham, however, is smiling. The Jehovah's Witness faith paints "Judgment Day" in a positive light, describing it as "a time of hope and restoration."

Below you can see the similarities between the image and the 1435 painting of the "Last Judgment" by Stefan Lochner.


By © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro, CC BY-SA 4.0

On the back cover, the band members are shown in all white clothing, peering out a window at an orange sky. Perhaps they are angels looking down at the destruction on Earth. One musician is sounding a trumpet. The 1 Corinthians Bible verse is also included on the cover.

Prince similarly referenced the end of the world and the return of Christ in songs like "1999," "Let's Go Crazy," "Darling Nikki," "7" and "Get on the Boat."

In the liner notes, Graham thanks Jehovah, as Prince would later do on his albums. Graham also lists himself as a writer, producer and arranger--a practice Prince would also employ. It must be noted that the GCS album came out on Warner Bros. just three years before Prince made his debut on the record label.

Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It even includes a song, "It Ain't Nothing But a Warner Bros. Party," which shouts out fellow artists--including the Doobie Brothers and Tower of Power--and label executives like President Mo Ostin, who had a long working relationship with Prince. The song is reminiscent in spirit of Prince's "We Can Work It Out," which he wrote as a tribute to Warner Bros. after signing with the label himself. On the song, Prince coincidentally--or intentionally--sings, "Ain't no doubt about it, we can work it out." And at the end, he lowers his voice, Graham-style, to say, "Making music naturally, me and WB."

Neither Graham nor Prince shied away from mentioning both Jesus and Satan in their music, though Graham was more direct.

"Satan's out to get you/Jesus died to save you," Graham sings on "Water." Jesus is also referenced on "Luckiest People."

While Prince mentioned "the Devil" and Jesus on songs like "Eye No" and "Anna Stesia," he would often talk about these Biblical figures in code (e.g. "De-elevator" on "Let's Go Crazy" or the protagonist of "I Would Die 4 U").

"[Larry's] taught me so much about respecting one another, musicians listening to one another, and just the sound of his bass  -- it's undeniable." - Prince, 1999

Mirror

"God is love." - 1 John 4:8

That scripture is one of the cornerstones of Prince's musical output (see "Anna Stesia"). It also showed up in the liner notes of GCS's 1976 album, Mirror. Graham wrote a dedication to his father, Larry Graham, Sr., who died that same year. Praying that his father "is a part of the resurrection," he also references Revelation 21:4: "And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore."

Prince arguably alludes to the same scripture in both "Elephants and Flowers" and "7."

Mirror album, 1976

Graham Sr. is also pictured in the liner notes. He was a jazz musician, just like Prince's father, John L. Nelson. Both Prince and Larry Graham's mothers were also musicians.


Larry Graham Sr. on guitar and John L. Nelson at the piano


Larry Graham also thanks his wife, Tina, citing Genesis 2:23: "Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh."

Prince would reference the same scripture in his song, "And God Created Woman."

The cover art for Mirror is a single sheet of reflective foil, seemingly encouraging the listener to examine his or her soul. The album is even more spiritual than Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It. The second track, "Love (Covers a Multitude of Sin)," is taken directly from 1 Peter 4:8: "Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins."

Prince would later employ "Love 4 One Another" as a mantra, website and charity.

"I've worked with other musicians that were great, but they didn't allow me to really have the freedom that I needed to be able to give them all that I could give them. With baby brother [Prince], he allows me the freedom to give all that I can give, and as a result, what we're doing now, when you hear it, you can see that it's coming from the heart, which is why we're touching hearts." - Larry Graham, 1999

GCS included more spiritual messages on "Mirror," "Forever" (dedicated to Graham Sr.) and "Save Me," which is a funk and gospel masterpiece, with incredible vocal, horn and string arrangements, as well as extraordinary bass-thumping by Graham. The musical shift at 2:35, featuring a synthesizer solo, is an amazing moment of understated funk. The song is, undoubtedly, the religious center of the album.

"You should open [the Bible] up to Matthew 24," the band members sing. "And take a look for yourself just what you're living for."


That chapter in the book of Matthew describes the end of the world. Verse 21 states, "For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again." Prince would later sing about avoiding "the tribulation" on his song, "Get on the Boat."

*

Religion aside, these two GCS albums are dope musically, especially Mirror. The funk and musicianship are undeniable. And even Prince's most religious projects, like The Rainbow Children, are still strong musically.

Though Prince and Larry Graham referenced the same Biblical ideas, Prince was often more covert. Unlike his mentor, he rarely called out explicit chapters and verses in his lyrics. Most of the time, you had to dig to find the references. Other times, Prince would take Biblical text and alter individual words, phrases or points of view to fit his narrative. Because he grew up in the church, he'd internalized scripture. One wonders if he was channeling when he was writing, or if he sometimes sat down with the Bible and a pen and paper.

I wish I could ask him.

Finally, thanks to Larry for the music and for inspiring Prince and numerous other musicians. We have to give these icons their flowers now.


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Friday, February 14, 2020

"Pink Cashmere" - Song of the Month

Each month I will share some brief, personal thoughts on one of my favorite Prince songs.


"Music is healing," Prince said in his memoir, The Beautiful Ones. Who wouldn't agree? I even think Prince's guitar solos are healing, and the one on "Pink Cashmere" always makes me feel better. I used to make playlists for my mother, and I put this song on one of them because, although she was a Prince fan, it was new to her. She told me, "I can tell it's a Prince song by the guitar solo." Besides the healing properties, I think this is one of his best ballads, from the orchestration to the lyrics to the vocal arrangements and ad libs. This is the kind of slow jam I prefer (sorry to "Do Me, Baby"). The best thing about discovering Prince is that, once you get past all the major hits, which are amazing enough, you find the lesser-known gems, and you can't believe this guy is even better than you thought! At least that's what happened to me. I was floored when I first heard this track, and played it repeatedly. It brings back memories of my first year or so of college, when I was still exploring his discography.

Which Prince guitar solos are healing to you?


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