Friday, September 13, 2019

"Two Petals from the Same Flower" - Interview with Gin Love Thompson

Photos courtesy of Gin Love Thompson

Florida-based writer Gin Love Thompson has a great reverence for the beauty, sanctity and symbolism associated with flowers. They adorn our homes, represent transcendence (think of the lotus flower) or signify celebration or mourning, she pointed out.

They are also a reminder of the fleeting nature of life.

"They require tender tending to," Thompson said. "Each flower must be enjoyed in the moment; for in an instant, petals may begin to fall away."

It's not a surprise that flower imagery sprouts up throughout Thompson's first collection of poems, Sunrises at Midnight, released in June. Though the image on the cover is meant to denote sun rays, it could just as easily be read as petals.

Chronicling the bright and dark moments of her life in seven parts, the book also features a segment on Prince, with whom she shared a connection. And she employed similar metaphors in those poems, which include titles like "Coup My Flowers," "Violets For You" and "Flowers in My Garden," though it wasn't done purposely.

"Prince's love and use of flowers in his own writing and art was subconsciously an inspiration," she speculated.

*Click to enlarge

Thompson met Prince face-to-face in 2004. Upon reading her poetry, he asked her a simple question that left an indelible mark: "What are you going to do with this?"

"I don't want to say he planted a seed," she said. "It's more like he planted a tree. ... I had so much growth to go through myself before I could absorb it and really be ready. That tree sheltered me and it strengthened me."

Thompson began writing poetry as a child, but the further she advanced in her career as a psychotherapist and a nationally known relationship expert, she found herself losing touch with her creativity.

"I just had this sinking, empty feeling like, 'This isn't what my life was supposed to be,'" she said.

Thompson's last interaction with Prince was January 2016. After his unexpected death a few months later, she was moved to finally share her work. Sunrises at Midnight is dedicated to the artist "for being a reflection of what I was not yet able to see in myself," she wrote.

"He had a way of seeing straight through you," she recalled. "He saw your talents and had no issue with pointing those out and encouraging [you]."

*Click to enlarge

Thompson has presented on the therapeutic nature of expressive arts, and she found her own healing through poetry after Prince's departure. But the book covers much more than Prince; it includes pieces about other loved ones she lost, difficult relationships, sensuality and spirituality.

"It's all about making connections with other people to let them know they're not alone," she said. "These experiences that we have, while they're unique to each of us, they're also universal in many ways. And we're in this together."

Follow Gin Love Thompson


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Friday, September 6, 2019

"More Books Than A Few" - My Reading List


Prince's spiritual vocabulary was so vast. The Bible is important, but I have to look at other texts to grasp everything he studied. Here is just a snapshot of my current reading list:

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Hinduism by Rasamandala Das

The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Amarna and Its People by Barry Kemp

The Ultimate Guide to Chakras: The Beginner's Guide to Balancing, Healing, and Unblocking Your Chakras for Health and Positive Energy by Athena Perrakis, PhD

Akhenaten: King of Egypt by Cyril Aldred

The Third Eye by T. Lobsang Rampa

Llewellyn's Complete Book of Chakras by Cyndi Dale

American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West by Philip Goldberg

Buddhism 101 by Arnie Kozak, PhD

Approaching the Buddhist Path by the Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron

The Foundation of Buddhist Practice by the Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron


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Friday, August 30, 2019

"The Color of the Pharaoh's Hand" - Prince's Moses References (Pt. 2)


Earlier this year, I did a blog post on Prince's references to the Biblical prophet Moses. I suspected it wasn't a comprehensive list, and some fans pointed out a couple allusions I'd missed. And as I continue to study Prince's spiritual development for my book, I gain greater clarity about his lyrics.

With that said, here are a few more references--and one correction--on a list that I would bet is still incomplete.


"Chelsea Rodgers" (2007): Amendment

Last time, I misinterpreted the following lyric from the Planet Earth album: “Moses was a pharaoh in the 18th Dynasty.” I explained that Prince could be referring to Thutmose III or Amenmesse (or Amenmose).

However, it is more likely a reference to the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten. According to his former wife, Mayte Garcia, Prince felt a connection to the ruler. He reportedly read the book, Akhenaten: King of Egypt, and included the pharaoh's name in a hidden message in the video for the “The One” in 1998. Prince also, arguably, referenced the pharaoh in the 2001 song, “Muse 2 the Pharaoh.”


Given that Akhenaten rejected Egyptian religious tradition and attempted to persuade the people to embrace monotheism, he has been linked with Abrahamic religions. Some scholars (including Sigmund Freud) believe he mentored Moses, who presented the Israelites with the Ten Commandments--which includes the instruction, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

Others believe Akhenaten was Moses. That is a theory Prince may have supported.


“Revelation” (2015)

Prince arguably connects Moses and Akhenaten again on this song from the HitnRun Phase Two album.

“Through English glamour, casting a spell/Though Hebrew, Greek and Roman hell,” he sings. “Higher 'til we overstand, the color of the pharoah's hand.”

“What that’s about is Moses,” Prince said in his 2015 interview with Ebony, referencing the Biblical book of Exodus, chapter four, verse six. According to the passage, God showed Moses miraculous signs. Following God's instructions, Moses put his hand in his cloak, pulled it out, and noticed it was "leprous, like snow."

“What color was it before he put it in?” Prince asked in the interview. “So now we can start talking about that stuff. We couldn’t do that until you had a [black] president. Couldn’t do that until hip-hop.”

One could interpret this statement as Prince’s commentary on the whitewashing of Biblical figures. And by calling Moses “pharaoh” in the song, he may once again be alluding to the similarities between the prophet and Akhenaten.


It’s a school of thought rooted in Afrocentricity, a movement that highlighted the contributions of ancient African civilizations, with a heavy focus on Egypt. Proponents of the movement preferred to call the country by its native name, km.t.

At its height in the ‘90s, Afrocentricity was being introduced in the school system, from kindergarten to college, to the delight and dismay of different groups, depending on their viewpoint.

A review of Prince’s statements, lyrics and affiliations over time indicates he was very much steeped in Afrocentricty (more on that in my book).

“The first time I saw a person of color in a book, the person was hung from a tree,” Prince said in a 1996 interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press, emphasizing the need for a more expansive education system. “That was my introduction to African-American history in this country.”


Exodus (1995)

Though this album was attributed to the New Power Generation, Prince was heavily involved in the project — one of the first to be released independent of Warner Bros. In the Bible, the book of Exodus details the story of Moses and the Israelites' exit from Egypt. Prince is using that allusion to articulate, not only his freedom from his own limitations under contract with the record label, but his desire for the liberation of black artists, historically mistreated by the music industry.

"It really was him talking about where things were with these record companies," NPG keyboard player Morris Hayes said in an interview with the Peach and Black Podcast. "I think that was his clarion call, like, 'You've got to know how we as artists are being stifled.'"

And just as black people used spirituals, including “Go Down, Moses,” as codes for their liberation from slavery, Prince utilized religious imagery in his songs to imagine “new worlds,” or better economic and social conditions for black people, according to scholars.


Even the cover art of the Exodus album can be interpreted as Afrofuturism imagery.


“Return of the Bump Squad” (1995)

I welcome interpretations of this funk, gospel-infused jam from the Exodus album. It seems to be a hodgepodge of rock-star cockiness, anti-music industry sentiment, a sprinkle of rap shade and bits of Biblical imagery.

Sonny T. references Moses' journey to Mount Horeb (aka Mount Sinai) and desire to pass through the land of Edom in a spoken-word section at the end of the song.

"And the people spake against God and against Moses," he said. "Wherefore have ye brought us up to Egypt to die in the wilderness?"

It seems Prince wanted to lead everyone to a land of artistic freedom, spiritual redemption and "real music."

"U best get your house in order," Sonny T. adds. "And get back in the music books."


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Friday, August 23, 2019

"Acknowledge Me" - The Time Outshines Prince in Columbus

Much like Victor Frankenstein, Prince created a monster he could not control.

In 1981, Prince formed The Time, a vehicle to get even more of his music out to the world. But the funk outfit, led by the charismatic Morris Day, became a rival for attention and success.

"To this day, they’re the only band I’ve ever been afraid of," Prince famously told Rolling Stone in 1990.

According to Dez Dickerson, Prince's guitarist at the time, the friendly competition escalated into something more, especially as The Time desired more control.

"It just turned out to be more restrictive for them than they would have liked," Dickerson wrote in his book, My Time With Prince. "Prince, I believe, felt he created the band for a specific purpose, and the members were the actors he cast in his play."

Despite that tension, The Time put on dynamic performances that, for some, proved more entertaining than Prince's shows. A prime example is Prince's 1999 tour stop in my town of Columbus, Ohio.

The Columbus Dispatch gushed about The Time's opening set, but called Prince a "letdown." The publication had an even harsher perspective of opener Vanity 6.

Here's the review of the 1982 concert, re-posted with permission from The Columbus Dispatch. (Click on the image to expand.)


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Friday, August 16, 2019

"However Much U Want" - Review of "Child of the Sun"



Chances are, if you were a woman in Prince's life, you heard three magic words: "Do you sing?"

He may have used recording as part of his courting process. He may have been inspired by your voice. He may have been inspired by your beauty. Whatever the reason, he wanted to center an album around you.

Shortly after they met, Prince asked Mayte Garcia the magical question. A trained belly dancer since the age of 3, Garcia knew her strength was in movement. But she humored Prince and recorded the song, "However Much U Want." Four years later, in 1995, it was added to Garcia's debut album, Child of the Sun.

"I loved him all the more for being so supportive," Garcia wrote in her book, The Most Beautiful, "but my calling was to dance, and as I evolved as an artist, I was getting more and more interested in directing and editing."

Garcia admitted the album was actually fun. As a listener, you can tell it was a pleasant experience for Prince, too.

The project is intriguing to me because it was an outgrowth of their shared connection to Egypt. Garcia had performed there growing up, and Prince had begun to experiment with Arabic music prior to meeting her. Together, they imagined past lives in Egypt, and their love inspired Prince to create a mythic story, which unfolded on the 1992 Love Symbol album and in the 1994 3 Chains O' Gold short film.

Visiting the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, they learned about Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten and queen Nerfertiti--"We felt connected to them in a way we couldn’t explain," Garcia said--and that the people were called "children of the sun" by some. But that was a few years after Child of the Sun was released, leading them to believe the album title was a divine foreshadowing.

While the album is not a masterpiece, some of the music is quite enjoyable. Prince doubles many of Garcia's vocals, which makes me long to hear the original demos. They both get assistance from the NPG musicians and other contributors.

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Given that Mayte is such a beautiful, charismatic dancer, I don't think it's a stretch to say she could have been molded into a solo artist like Jennifer Lopez.

By managing Robin Power and Carmen Electra in the early '90s, Prince was ahead of the trend of glamorous, sexually forward female rappers that would follow. Similarly, with Garcia, he was ahead of the "Latin pop explosion" of the late '90s. (He even considered naming Garcia's album Latino Barbie Doll.)

However, all of the women may have fared better if Prince brought in producers who could craft stronger hip-hop and pop tracks--and write better rap verses--to be competitive in the industry. That isn't to say that Prince's work isn't interesting, but it sounds too much like Prince.

Furthermore, Prince seemed to project his thoughts and values onto his proteges without giving them agency. Writer Ann Powers said it best in her review of Love Symbol for the New York Times: "The women who decorate Prince's epics also act primarily as vessels for their mentor's overflowing creativity," she wrote. "His only clear agenda ... is his devotion to an ideal that he himself embodies."

The femininity he expresses through the music is an element of his own psyche, she added.

And by listening to Child of the Sun, I can't say I have a proper window into Garcia's true personality.

Even if Prince had enlisted other producers, the album would not have made it to the U.S. market. Prince and Warner Bros. were in the midst of a public contract dispute, and the label refused to release the project. As a result, it was only available in Europe on NPG Records.

All that aside, the album is fun to listen to, and Prince even left some hidden messages next to each song in the liner notes.

Read on for my track-by-track review.

1. Children of the Sun

Hidden Text: Dance Party

I dig this track! This sets the tone for the album, which, in part, explores a '90s dance sound. I can imagine an instrumental version of this track opening a movie set in a busy city. I also love the piano part, the chant--"If your tears need company, this party ain't the one"--and Prince's "Yeah-hoo! Yeah-hoo!" backing vocals. It wouldn't be out of place on the Batman soundtrack.

2. In Your Gracious Name

Hidden Text: Prayer

This song reminds me of "Love, Thy Will Be Done," which Prince composed for singer Martika, based on a prayer she'd written. However, this track is a bit more upbeat. Instead of personifying god with the word "love," the song uses "glory." It also mentions "past lives," a sign that Prince was interested in thinking about reincarnation, while maintaining some of his traditional Christian beliefs.

3. If Eye Love U 2Night

Hidden Text: Sex

Prince really wanted to achieve a quiet storm sound. He would try again later with protege Bria Valente's 2009 album, Elixir. Compared to Garcia, Valente's voice is a bit more malleable and soulful. However, I truly believe Garcia's version of this track could have been a hit in the U.S. Prince originally penned the song in 1979 for Gayle Chapman. (Watch her recent live version here.) Next, he gave it to singer Mica Paris, who included it on her album, Contribution (I'm getting Chaka Khan vibes from her rendition). I'm not a fan of Prince's pattern of recycling music among proteges. With that said, he brilliantly reworked this song to better embody a mid-90s sound for Garcia.



4. The Rhythm of Your Heart

Hidden Text: Youth Culture

This dance track is pretty forgettable except for the part by the horn players. The verses are trivial, but the chorus is catchy and cute: "Shine like the sun/Laugh like the rain .... Try to stay happy on the darkest day." The vibe is clearly "Uncle Prince" encouraging young people, and I do like that.




5. Ain't No Place Like U

Hidden Text: Industrial Love

I'm really proud of myself for labeling this song "industrial" before I saw Prince's message in the liner notes. This is one of the best songs on the album due to his guitar playing. (See if you recognize the drum pattern.) According to princevault.com, the song was also recorded by Jevetta Steele, but that version was never released.

6. House of Brick (Brick House)

Hidden Text: Mighty Mayte

I'm not even mad. Prince wisely took advantage of the "Mighty Mayte" play on words while covering this Commodores hit. I get such a kick out of hearing Prince imitate Walter Orange's vocal inflection, and I like how Kirk Johnson added Latin percussion to better suit the sound of the album.

7. Love's No Fun

Hidden Text: 2 Whom It May Concern

This is another recycled track. Elisa Fiorillo Dease has the better version. Fun fact: this one features an appearance by Mike Scott on acoustic guitar.

8. Baby Don't Care

Hidden Text: Have Dog, Will Stray

"Gloria Estefan, Mayte's in the house," Prince sings on the most Latin-sounding track on the album. I'm not feeling it. Prince's Latin interludes on some of his songs are more enjoyable. Again, this would have been an opportunity for him to bring in another producer to compete with artists like Estefan. Side note: I can't get over Troy Byer doing the speaking part in a Spanish accent.

9. However Much U Want

Hidden Text: Do It

There's backmasking at the beginning of the track, because Prince. This is really the only Arabic-style song on the album, which surprised me. Overall, it's interesting because of its self-actualization message. Prince really believed we could manifest anything in our lives.

10. Mo Betta

Hidden Text: Wetter

Because of the title, I was expecting a cool, sensual, modern (for that time) R&B track. Instead, I got saccharine pop ballad that isn't even that sexy.

11. If Eye Love U 2Night (Spanish version)

Hidden Text: Spanish Vibe

Now I'm remembering when the "Spanish version" of a hit pop song was a thing you'd see (hi, Christina Aguilera). Prince was a smart businessman. I'm kinda mad at Warner Bros. for hamstringing this project because they could have gotten an international hit out of this song.

12. The Most Beautiful Boy in the World

Hidden Text: Beautiful Experience

I'm not sure why this was a thing. It is fascinating to think of how often Prince switched the perspectives of his songs for proteges. For example, a little birdie told me Bria Valente's "Another Boy" was once "Another Girl" ...


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Friday, August 9, 2019

"High-Class Model ... Over in Paris, France" - Interview with Tracy Hudson

"It was like he was looking into your soul."


Tracy Hudson with NPG rapper Tony M.
Photo courtesy of Tracy Hudson.
Prince wants to play you a tape or CD of his new music. How do you react? Smile and enthusiastically bob your head to the beat? Offer constructive criticism? Ask questions about his songwriting process?

Record label executives and journalists weren't the only ones put in this predicament. Prince was known to play material for colleagues, friends, girlfriends and others--usually in the car.

Former model Tracy Hudson took her turn nearly 30 years ago on an airplane.

"He had asked me to listen to versions of [a song] to see which one that I liked," said Hudson, who now owns her own business, Tracy Hudson Skin Care, in Los Angeles. "I remember I was super nervous."

That's about all she can recall of the moment, one of many she was able to spend with the late superstar. He booked her for music videos, including "Insatiable" and "Sexy M.F.," as well as photo shoots.

"Initially, he was contacting me through L.A. Models," she said. "Then, he asked to just call me directly to book me, which was really great. I think it was the 'Insatiable' video that we did first."


Released in 1991, the "Insatiable" video finds Prince making a sexy tape with a love interest. Hudson wasn't in the starring role--that honor went to Barbara Lee--but you can spot her among the dozen other women who joined in for the filmmaking fun.

Hudson had a bigger role in 1992's "Sexy M.F.," shot at Paisley Park Studios. At the beginning of the video, Prince lures her and two other women--Robin Power Royal and Troy Byer--away from a group of rivals. According to Hudson, cast members slept on the premises. She recalled the sight--and sound--of Prince's cane as he rapped on their doors, waking them up for a 6 a.m. call time.

"He was fully dressed," she said. "He had a suit on, and his hair was done and his heels were on and his makeup was on. He was almost like Willy Wonka. He was just super happy and ready to shoot."


Hudson said the experience was a lot of fun because of Prince's sense of humor.

"He was always cracking jokes and just kept us in stitches," she said. "He was very specific about his creative vision, but at the same time, he was a great to work with."

Hudson began her modeling career at 19, when she moved from Los Angeles to Europe. On her first day overseas, she signed with a prestigious agency. By her second day, she'd booked a campaign. She went on to work in runway shows and commercials, and appear in publications like Vogue Italia and Elle Greece.

She worked with Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks--both part of the popular supermodel era of the '80s and '90s.

"It was a great time," Hudson said. "It was great money. ... There was probably a bit more prestige associated with it. Now, you don't really know models' names and faces as much as you did then."

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Hudson has starred in a multitude of music videos for other artists; she singles out Eric Benét's "Femininity" as a favorite. The photo shoots she did for Prince were promoting his band, the New Power Generation (NPG).

"One time he had this huge dog that he had me straddle," she said. "They were always really provocative pictures."
                                
Photo courtesy of Tracy Hudson.
Hudson will always remember Prince as warm, friendly and generous. And he was reserved and contemplative as much as he was funny.

"You kind of always stayed off-balance a little bit," she said. "Sometimes there were these really quiet moments where he'd just stare at you really deeply and intensely. ... It was like he was looking into your soul."

Highlighting stories like Hudson's are important as we unpack the full extent of Prince's legacy, including his elevation of black women--a detail that has been overlooked by many journalists, scholars and people in the fan community.

"I remember thinking it was really cool that he took notice of this little chocolate girl," Hudson said.

Follow Tracy Hudson on Instagram @tracyhudsonskincare.



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Friday, August 2, 2019

"And God Created Woman" - Prince and Roger Vadim


"What is it with the recurring homages to Roger Vadim?"

You can almost visualize Los Angeles Times writer Chris Willman pulling out tufts of his hair while writing a review of Prince's 1992 album, Love Symbol. Finding the project "silly and self-indulgent," Willman was no longer impressed with Prince's style of intermingling the sexual with the spiritual.

"Formerly a horny boy Gnostic of fascinatingly obsessive proportions, he now seems like just another confused Peter Pan with Playboy on the brain and a Bible in the hotel drawer," Willman wrote.

Well, alright.

I disagree with Willman's broad brush of criticism; I actually think Love Symbol is one of Prince's best albums of the '90s. Additionally, the project is an intriguing look at Prince's exploration beyond traditional Christian beliefs. However, journalists did not have enough time or interest to pick apart his references to reincarnation and the third eye--not to mention the complex gender expression of the symbol, which would soon become his name.

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Love Symbol by the Numbers

However, I can't say I quite understand Prince's fascination with Roger Vadim, the French writer and director whose career took off in the 1950s and ended just before his death in the 2000s. On Love Symbol, Prince's song, "And God Created Woman," is the same title of Vadim's 1956 movie, which made actress and fashion icon Brigitte Bardot a star.


And during the previous year, Prince debuted a new fashion style, "GangsterGlam," which he explained as "Godfather III meets Barbarella."

The movie "Godfather III" was released in 1990--around the time Prince was making the Diamonds and Pearls and Love Symbol albums--but "Barbarella," starring Jane Fonda, was a science fiction comedy Vadim made in 1968.

Prince even christened his keyboard player with the name "Tommy Barbarella."

"He was into the movie at the time," Barbarella told MPLS St. Paul magazine. "I don't know why, [maybe] style-wise. This is a guy who on airplanes would read a lot of fashion magazines. He was always on the cutting-edge of fashion and Paris shows."

Prince and his band, the NPG, paid homage to the gangster film by wearing suits, suspenders and fedoras. The influence of "Barbarella" is more apparent, to me, in the visuals associated with his female dancers and protégés, Diamond, Pearl and Carmen Electra.


Both films are rooted in the erotic, which was a trademark of Vadim's art. Prince, whose early work was the catalyst for the "Parental Advisory" label on albums, could obviously relate. And Prince showed his affinity for France by filming his own movie, "Under the Cherry Moon," there.

Like Prince, Vadim had romances with many of his female colleagues; he married both Bardot and Fonda, and dated actress Catherine Deneuve. Unlike Prince, Vadim did not always keep his personal life private. He penned a book about his relationships called Bardot, Deneuve, Fonda.

After watching both movies for the first time this week, I can say Barbarella" is much more entertaining. I understand the impact "And God Created Woman" made when taken in historical context of female representation on film. For example, Vadim once said, "I wanted to show a normal young girl whose only difference was that she behaved in the way a boy might, without any sense of guilt on a moral or sexual level."

However, I wanted to see a more fully realized role for Bardot's "Juliette" character. Other than her love for animals--Bardot is an animal activist in real life--I didn't get any sense of Juliette's aspirations. And, as to be expected in a 1950s movie, there was an uncomfortable, racially charged scene. Toward the end of the movie, the "demon-driven temptress" rebels by dancing with darker-skinned Cuban musicians. (Side note: Bardot has a history of inciting racism in real life, but that's another blog post.)

In my opinion, "And God Created Woman" has an air too serious for a plot that thin. On the other hand, "Barbarella" is a film fully aware of its camp and ridiculousness. With a lesser actress, it would have failed, but Fonda's acting and comedic timing are terrific. I found myself cackling out loud.


Prince also seemed to be amused by the "tongue box," a device that converted a person's speech into English as they were talking, which Barbarella used in the film. In a skit on the Love Symbol album, Prince mentions he has "a special phone, a tongue box."

I would also bet money that the "little box with a mirror and a tongue inside," which Prince mentions on the song "Gett Off," is a perversion of the tongue box concept, but who knows?

As for Prince's song, "And God Created Woman," it doesn't reference the film. Instead, it's a compelling retelling--and, arguably, a subversion--of Biblical scripture.

Hopefully, other scholars will take a deeper dive into Prince, Vadim, Bardot and Fonda in the context of fashion, female beauty standards and feminism.

I'd also be happy if Prince's former loved ones talked more about what it was like to watch an old movie with him.


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Monday, July 29, 2019

"HITnRUN" - Quick Prince Giveaway



Congrats to the winner, Nicole S.!

This contest is closed. 

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Friday, July 26, 2019

"2 Whom it May Concern ... " - Prince's Act I and Act II Tours

"My name is not Prince. My name damn sure ain't Victor."




What happens when a major recording artist changes his name in the midst of a world tour? If it's Prince, that means the audiences will get one type of show before the transformation, and a different one afterward.

Three months before he became the symbol--specifically Love Symbol #2--on June 7, 1993, he embarked on his first tour of the U.S. in approximately five years. I recently watched video of one of the shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Inspiration and fun are the first two words that came to mind when I think about that concert. Prince was clearly smitten by dancer and future wife, Mayte Garcia, and I enjoyed their chemistry as they performed songs of that era, many of which were written with her in mind. One of my favorite moments occurs during "The Max," when they do a sensual dance together and flirt at the piano.


Garcia stood out during the previous Diamonds and Pearls tour and she made an impact here, especially with her ballet during "And God Created Woman" and belly dancing during "7." Throughout the concert, she played off the energy of additional dancers TDK: Tony M. (also a rapper), Damon Dickson and Kirk Johnson.

I've never been a huge fan of the trio, but I can't knock their stamina. And I was delighted by a little step they did, turning their backsides to the audience, during "The Continental." Later, when two of them hoisted Prince high in the air, I nearly broke out in hives. There's no way I'd risk dropping such precious cargo!

There were also a few other women dancers. Kelly Konno, whom I instantly recognized from touring with Janet Jackson portrayed a reporter whose clothes are ... sigh ... stripped off onstage. (You can read more about her experience here.)

In addition to love, Prince was inspired by Egypt, loosely telling the story of an Egyptian Princess (Garcia) being hunted by men who want to steal her "3 Chains O' Gold." More of the plot would become clearer--though not necessarily more interesting--when the 3 Chains O' Gold short film was released the following year.

But the theatrics would be nothing without the music of Prince and the NPG, which at the time consisted of Michael Bland, Tommy Barbarella, Morris Hayes, and a fantastic horn section, which would become known as the Hornheads. Prince showed off his piano- and guitar-playing talents throughout the show.

"You were proud that you were there with him so you wanted to be your best, but the ultimate motivator was fear," Barbarella said in an interview with Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. "So many amazing moments were tempered with fear."

One of the craziest stories I've heard was when Prince held his gun-shaped mic up to trombonist Michael B. Nelson's head night after night to make sure he didn't miss a high note again during his solo.

"He just wanted it to be perfect all the time," Nelson told Rolling Stone. "And he wasn’t always cheerful about how he wanted that. It took me a long time to come to terms with that."


After the first half of the show closed with "7," I dreaded the greatest hits-heavy second half. However, Prince managed to keep it lively and diverse, throwing in B-sides like "Irresistible Bitch" and "She's Always in My Hair," alongside tracks from Gold Nigga, the NPG album Warner Bros. refused to release.

I paid close attention to "Purple Rain," which is always an important indicator of Prince's spiritual mindset. Known for changing the "let me guide you" lyric to emphasize God or Jesus at times, Prince decided to emphasize the word "love," which I argue is a code for Prince's higher power (more on that in my book).

Many of the reviews were harsh, with publications criticizing the plot, Prince's "machismo," his one-dimensional portrayal of Garcia and the sexual content in his new music.

"The attempts he made at social relevance in the mid-1980s have vanished; now, it's back to the bedroom," Jon Pareles wrote in the New York Times.

I don't want to see the reviews for the European leg of the tour, or Act II, which began in late July.

There was a shadow cast over the production before it even began. In April, Prince announced he was retiring from music, and would fulfill his much-publicized--and likely exaggerated--$100 million contract with Warner Bros. only with shelved material from his vault. And though his name change was a complex personal decision, it was clear he also had motivations to undermine the record label in the meantime.

That's a lot of baggage to carry during a tour, and it showed, at least in the London show I watched.

Prince excised his new material and the Egyptian plot almost entirely from the show. What remained was an uninspired parade of his old hits, some of which he said he would stop performing after this series of concerts. Prince himself appeared bored, doing snippets of songs and noodling at the piano or spending a brief moment behind the drum kit in an effort to fill time. (As the tour went on, he'd gradually add in tracks from forthcoming albums.)

He dissolved TDK, who were sorely needed in this lackluster production. Instead, Garcia was brought out to dance more, but much of the chemistry was gone without the backdrop of songs she inspired.

"My Name is Prince" was left in as the opening number, but Prince did not appear onstage. Mayte Garcia dressed as him and fooled the audience until she stripped down. That little trick was actually kinda cool, and reminiscent of his 1980s antics, like tricking consumers by putting Cat Glover on the cover of the "Sign 'O' the Times" single and masking her face.

Thank goodness the NPG still sounded tight, especially those horns during "America" and "D.M.S.R." That might be the only other thing I liked about this tour.

With Prince increasingly becoming anti-corporate, it was a little funny to see Prince's symbol advertised next to Coca-Cola, the sponsor of the tour. Another goofy moment occurred when he  grumbled about the prevalence of lip syncing in the industry, then proceeded to lip sync--very poorly--during "The Sacrifice O' Victor." (Thanks for "sacrificing" one of my favorite songs, P.)

He had to preface that song by telling the audience his name is not Victor, which was a rumor floating around after his name change.

"What, you got a problem 'cause you don't know what to call me?" he asked from the stage. "If you're always with me, you never have to call me."

Touché.

Subscribe to my e-mail list for updates on my book on Prince's spiritual journey. Click here.

Friday, July 19, 2019

"Undisputed" - Top Six Posts of 2019


At the start of 2019, I set a goal to blog each Friday. Now that we've passed the six-month mark, I'm proud to announce I haven't missed a week! This is a major accomplishment for me; although I've been running this blog for nine years, I haven't always been consistent.

But I'm on my way to surpassing my most active period (2012-13)! Here are the most-viewed posts in 2019 ... so far.

6. "All That Glitters" - Review of "Gold Experience: Following Prince in the '90s." In-depth coverage of Prince's career in the 1990s is so limited. Jim Walsh's book is a great start.

5. "Come to the Park and Play" - Interview with Kathy Good. In my quest to write about as many women in Prince's video for "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," I found Good, who was open to telling her story to a wider audience for the first time. She even shared her audition video!

4. "Get Yo Groove On" - Interview with Rhonda Smith. It took a while for the bassist to feel comfortable talking about Prince after his death. I appreciated her time with me.

3. "Don't U Wanna Know The Word?" - Four Spiritual Messages on 3121. In celebration of the album's reissue on purple vinyl, I examined just some of its spiritual content. It feels good to have a post featuring my own thoughts (without an interview attached) in the top three.

2. "Where'd You Get Those Glasses?" - Interview with Wally Safford. That one time Prince's dancer, bodyguard and friend called me with Jerome Benton on the line ...

1. "Beautiful, Loved and Blessed" - Interview with Ashley Támar Davis. I have such a special relationship with the 3121 album, and I always admired Davis' contributions, especially the spiritual content.


Subscribe to my e-mail list for updates on my book on Prince's spiritual journey. Click here.

Friday, July 12, 2019

"Pop Life" - Seven Questions for Laura Tiebert

"Life it ain't real funky unless it's got that pop." 


Photo by PhillipsPhotosCDP

To experience life in Prince's high heels, one doesn't have to write timeless music, sell out arenas or attempt to hit a dozen splits at the drop of a hat. Following Prince's example can mean fasting, developing a personal style and making time for play in your busy, adult life.

That's what Minnesota mom Laura Tiebert has been doing since the beginning of 2019. Each month, she completes a Prince-inspired task (she even changed her name in April), and writes about it at lauratiebert.com. She hopes to turn "The Year of Living Like Prince" into a book.

"The impetus, in part, for this project was seeing how people in a fan community can sometimes put that person on a pedestal, and in the process let themselves off the hook," Tiebert said. "[They say], 'Oh, this person's a genius. I could never do this.' Well, you know what, you can do more than you think and you have talents. And it's your job to get out there and share them."

Originally from Wisconsin, Tiebert gravitated toward Prince's music as a teenager. As life got busier with a successful writing career, marriage and parenthood, she lost track of the enigmatic superstar. But when her husband's job prompted a move to Minnesota just before Prince's death in 2016, she was drawn back into the music. A year later, she published a biography, The Rise of Prince: 1958-1988, with co-writer Alex Hahn.

Tiebert graciously answered seven questions about her passion for Prince.

1. On the spectrum from "casual fan" to "hardcore fan," how would you rank yourself?

There are still a lot of people who know much more about Prince than I do. I'm not a musician, there are things about the music that I don't understand, but I'd put myself right up there. I think I've fallen into the category of hardcore fan. ... I'm so grateful for his music and his legacy because it's led me to an amazing place where I feel like I'm serving my purpose in life. Living like Prince and spreading the word, it feels like my purpose.

2. How did your connection to Prince change when you studied his work as an adult? 

I just realized that I had missed a lot, like thousands of songs worth of a lot, and there was so much more to learn. And I think coming to it again now as an adult with teenagers [of my own], I heard the songs differently. I heard different things in the music, and it did resonate with me on a more spiritual level. It was almost like my eyes opened and my heart opened.

3. Other than wearing a "mankini," are there things you won't do while trying to live like Prince?

Working 20 hours a day--I can't. I'm a mom and I have to be up at 6 a.m. to get the kids to school. I can't stay up 'til 5 a.m. and then go to bed and wake up at noon. It's just not going to work for me.

4. As you discovered different aspects of Prince's personality while writing The Rise of Prince, did your relationship with him shift at times?

There were a lot of nights when I would be in front of my laptop, like clutching handfuls of hair going, 'Why, Prince, why?' ... We know he had a dark side and sometimes that was a little hard to stomach. And Alex [Hahn] was very good about facing that and not glossing over it. And I think it's an important part of his story to acknowledge that he wasn't a perfect person.

5. What's something you've learned about Prince that you haven't shared?

For fans, I think they would be interested to know that Prince had invited [author] Betty Eadie to go on tour with him. I think a lot of people know that he was a fan of [her book] Embraced by the Light, maybe they even know that he wrote "Dolphin" for her, and "Into the Light" was inspired by that book. But they might not know that he had taken it to the level where he wanted to give everyone at his show [in the early '90s] one of her books. Then, he was going to have her do her author presentation. It never came to be because Betty decided she couldn't hitch her horse to Prince's wagon per se. But wouldn't that have been something?

6. How does your family respond to your interest in Prince?

In the beginning they thought I had lost my mind, which is completely understandable because I had. But now they just accept their weird mother. And I think as the project develops, they're sort of seeing the greater purpose in it. We've welcomed all kinds of visitors into our home and people stay in our guest room, [which] is decked out in all things Prince. I have confined it to one room. So I'm very proud of myself for that.

I have a very patient and tolerant husband and I greatly appreciate that. The first Mother's Day after Prince died, he went to Electric Fetus [record store] and he got me Dirty Mind. I opened it up at the dining room table in front of the kids and I started sobbing. And the kids, their eyes were like saucers. They were like, "Who is the man in the bikini briefs and why is my mother sobbing?"

7. Besides turning "The Year of Living Like Prince" into a book, what are your long-term goals?

I'm starting to see that "Living Like" could become a series. This could go on and I think there are things to be learned from all sorts of successful people. Right now my life's dream has always been to have a book that came from my heart, and that's what I'm hoping "The Year of Living like Prince" will be. And if I accomplish that, then I'm giving myself a pat on the back. I hope to be able to bring people along on the journey: "Live Like Prince in 2020." Maybe people can follow along in an online class and we'll grow it from there. I also think it's possible that people could pick who they want to live like and I just simply teach how to [do it].


Subscribe to my e-mail list for updates on my book on Prince's spiritual journey. Click here.

Friday, July 5, 2019

"All That Glitters" - Review of "Gold Experience: Following Prince in the '90s"


As a newspaper journalist, your beat can depend on a variety of factors: level of experience, holes in coverage and, if you're lucky, level of interest. When I finished journalism school at Ohio University, I was offered a job as a crime reporter in a rural town in Ohio. I almost took it, but ultimately decided I couldn't live on the salary. I think I would've liked the beat, but I'm not sure I would have been mentally strong enough to handle the content.

Not that my job as a reporter with Columbus Alive has been 100 percent uplifting. During the last three years on the "community" beat, I've seen great loss, corruption and despair in the city. However, I've had enough fun moments to balance it all. 

I love my job and I wouldn't trade my experience for anything--except to be in journalist Jim Walsh's shoes. For nearly a decade at the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota, he handled the "Prince" beat. Most people know the late superstar was a prolific recording artist, but one might not think there would be enough content to keep a reporter busy on a weekly-to-monthly basis. 

But then again, many people don't know much about Prince after the '80s. Reading Walsh's book, Gold Experience: Following Prince in the 1990s, I got a clear picture of the artist's amount of activity during the decade. When he told a crowd at his Paisley Park abode, "It's your house, too," he meant it. At one point, he threw parties and concerts nearly each weekend at either his home or his Glam Slam nightclub in Minnesota, and Walsh was present for practically all of it.

A compilation of his articles from 1994 to 2002, Gold Experience takes readers inside those magical, late-night/early-morning events (I would've paid hundreds to see Prince lying on his back playing blues guitar during a loose jam). But the real treasure in the book is its insight into Prince's personality, and a relationship of mutual respect between a journalist and his subject. 

"It all, always comes back to God." - Prince to Jim Walsh, 1996

Taking a cursory glance at national articles and some biographies, one would conclude that Prince was a desperate madman during the 1990s. Having been on the ground in Prince's hometown, Walsh is able to present that common perspective--including his own reservations about the artist--against a more realistic look into Prince's motivations and, more importantly, his humanity. I think readers will also come away with a greater appreciation for the music (though I don't share Walsh's level enthusiasm for the album Come). 

Because Prince was fond of Walsh, allowing him to pen liner notes for his 1995 album, The Gold Experience, and once delaying the start of a show until the reporter arrived, I worried the book would be too biased, praising everything about the musician. I quickly learned that, while Walsh presented himself as a writer "always rooting for Prince, or defending him," he was critical when he needed to be. And there were times Prince made it known he wasn't happy with him.

But there's a difference between being critical and being nasty, as many journalists were when writing about Prince. It was refreshing to read a different approach. Additionally, unlike many other reporters, Walsh was thoughtful, intelligent and respectful. His two interviews with Prince--one in person and one via fax--were some of the most insightful I've read.

"The state of race relations affects me more than ever now that I run my own affairs." - Prince to Jim Walsh, 1997

One of best gifts a journalist can get is knowing their work is being read--and that it is making a difference. Walsh had the great fortune of getting Prince's attention; the artist even summoned him to Paisley Park to share his thoughts on one article, line by line! 

Related Content
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Rolling Stone journalists' thoughts on Prince's spirituality
Best Prince songs of the '90s 

Obviously, Walsh's articles impacted Prince, but, more importantly, they are making a difference now that the superstar is gone. In the market of Prince books, blogs, articles and podcasts, we need more thoughtful, probing views into this remarkable talent--especially during the '90s, when so many people wrote him off. Gold Experience gets it right.


Subscribe to my e-mail list for updates on my book on Prince's spiritual journey. Click here.

Friday, June 28, 2019

"A Beauty Like Yours" - Interview with Di Quon

Photo courtesy of Di Quon

"I want to do everything."

A succinct answer to a question about life goals resulted in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for actress Di Quon. Back in 1994, Prince sent out an ad recruiting women for "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" music video. The submission process required Di Quon to record a video about her dreams, so she enlisted the help of a friend.

"It was three minutes of me just directly talking into the camera," Di Quon said in a recent phone interview. "I said, 'You asked me what I wanted to do, and I'd like to do everything.'"

Di Quon transferred the footage to a VHS tape and sent it to Prince's team. They called her, but had a puzzling question.

"They're like, 'Hi. The Artist would like to know if you're in one of these commercials or shows,'" Di Quon recalled. "And I was like, 'Commercials or shows?' And they said, 'Yeah, we have six hours of video and we can't find you.'"

Di Quon realized she'd taped the wrong footage and explained her mistake. But Prince requested she come to Paisley Park studios to film the video anyway.

"When I got to the set, he said, 'So you want to do everything? ... I think I have something for you,'" Di Quon said.

While the other actresses in the video portray women seeing themselves depicted in their dream roles on a large screen--wife, mother, comedian, singer, etc.--Di Quon is shown off to the side, or assisting the women. But hers is one of the first faces shown when the video starts.

Click here to watch the video. 

And because she was in multiple scenes, she never really left the set like most of the other women.

"They would get to go to his club [Glam Slam] or they would go have dinner," she said.

But the upside was spending time with Prince.

"He was a total gentleman," Di Quon said. "He always made sure you were comfortable."

He even showed her one of his new guitars.

"He's like, 'Do you want to see something?'" Di Quon said. "It was almost like a kid that had something new."

Months after the shoot, she and the rest of the cast were invited to a premiere party at Paisley Park that paled in comparison to the famous NYC nightclubs, like the Limelight and Club USA, where Di Quon would dance.

"His party was 10 steps above that," she said. "One room had tiles on the floor, and you would step on them and they would make sounds. ... [And] it would play back what you just programmed."

Afterwards, Di Quon ran into Prince a few times at a nightclub where she worked.

"He was just so kind," she said. "He has this very larger-than-life persona. ... [But] he was really one of the most normal, down-to-earth people when you're one-on-one with him. ... He was a really great human being and I wish that I had gotten to know him better."

Related Content
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While Prince was encouraging artists to create music independent of record labels, Di Quon went on to work for Sony Music, interacting with megastars like Celine Dion, Marc Anthony and Michael Jackson.

"I think that, because I had that experience with Prince, I was able to be a more capable person in the music industry," she said.

Her connection to Prince also helped her when she transitioned into acting.

"The initial credit of having been in this Prince video that everyone has seen was really meaningful in terms of getting my first shoots," she said.

Today, Di Quon has built an impressive resume of film and TV projects, including roles in "Maid in Manhattan," "Grown Ups" and "Kevin Can Wait." She recently wrapped an indie film, "Soulmate(s)."

Also a wife and mother, Di Quon realized she achieved her goal of doing "everything," as she told Prince 25 years ago.

"I look back and I'm like, 'Wow, I actually did a lot of those things [shown in the video] and I'm still creating the path,'" she said.


Learn more about Di Quon on IMDb or diquon.com.

Subscribe to my e-mail list for updates on my book on Prince's spiritual journey. Click here.

Friday, June 21, 2019

"The Spiritual World" - Interview with Lisa Chamblee

"He lived in spirit because he was always a vessel for music."


Photo courtesy of Lisa Chamblee
The first time audio engineer Lisa Chamblee saw Prince with music staff paper was a legendary night at his Paisley Park recording studio.

"I was setting up all of the music stands and he said, 'Make sure we have pencils,'" Chamblee recalled. "I go and sharpen all these pencils and he's walking around, like making sure everything's right and he puts the paper down. And I'm looking at it like, '[This is] dope!'"

That was the night Prince, bassist Sonny T. and drummer Michael Bland--practically a holy, musical trinity--recorded nearly a dozen songs in one session. Prince gave the original New Power Generation band members some chord changes and let them fill in the rest. Several tracks, including "Love Like Jazz" and "Wall of Berlin" (my personal favorite) surfaced on Prince's 2009 album, Lotusflow3r.


"That was spiritual," Chamblee said.

Declaring "I am music" and crediting God as the source of his inspiration, Prince made it clear that the very act of playing music was spiritual.

"He was living his purpose," Chamblee said. "His purpose was to touch people through music. And he fulfilled it."

While Prince's playing is moving on its own (I personally think some of his guitar solos are healing), he consistently provided inspirational messages through his lyrics. In fact, the thesis of my forthcoming book is that Prince's spiritual mission was always to make others aware of God's existence.

Chamblee and I got into some of the spiritual messages in Prince's music.

"When I really listen to his stuff on a spiritual level, I get that he's doing a modern-day Negro spiritual," Chamblee said. "It's catchy, so it catches your attention, but then it has coded information. It talks about oppression, but also talks about freedom and showing us the way."

I'll go through Chamblee's specific examples in the book, but I do want to note that, the same week I talked to her, I was reading about a similar perspective in the Howard Journal of Communications' Prince issue. Some scholars propose that Prince's references to the "afterworld" and "new world" in his songs go beyond religion to describe a future for black people that is free from oppression.

While Prince was proud of his heritage and wrote some songs specifically for black people, he also encouraged unity among all races, Chamblee noted.

"The love for Prince has no color or nationality," she said. "He's beloved by the human race. I bet the [extraterrestrials] love him, too."

Born in Minneapolis, Chamblee honed her skills as an engineer in the Twin Cities and graduated from the Institute of Production and Recording (IPR). She went on to gain a credit as an assistant engineer on Prince's 3121 album. There's a terrific profile on Chamblee by the PRN Alumni Foundation, which honors Prince's legacy as a humanitarian.

"I am grateful for this organization because we carry on his missions, especially giving to the people he gave to," she said.

Focusing more on spirituality in our interview, Chamblee discussed her own experience with the Jehovah's Witness faith, which Prince adopted later in his life. Chamblee did Bible study with members of Prince's inner circle, but was too much of a "free spirit" to join the religion.

We also talked about Prince's belief in the "third eye," an esoteric concept of an invisible eye, which provides spiritual intuition.

"The third eye is like your entrance into the spirit world," she said. "He was very spiritual and he lived in spirit because he was always a vessel for music. And that is a huge spiritual experience in itself because anytime you have nothing and then all of a sudden there is something, there's spirit involved."


Subscribe to my e-mail list for updates on my book on Prince's spiritual journey. Click here.

Friday, June 14, 2019

"Funky Fresh for the '90s" - Favorite Prince Songs (Part 2)


Back in 2015, I attempted to identify my favorite song from each of Prince's albums from 1978 to 1990. I might make different choices today, but I'll let that list stand.

I thought I'd continue that series by sharing my selections from his 1990s albums.

1. Graffiti Bridge (1990): "The Question of U." What a bloody fight between that, "Joy in Repetition" and "Elephants & Flowers." "The Question of U" is just so intriguing due to the dark mood, voice effects and hand claps.

2. Diamonds and Pearls (1991): "Thunder." If you'd asked me this question about 20 years ago at the beginning of my fandom, I would've said "Willing and Able." But I've grown to love this album so much more since then. "Live 4 Love" is such a burst of energy--largely due to Michael Bland's drumming--but I have to give it to "Thunder," which is a genius composition. You can also pull no less than three interpretations from the lyrics.

3. Love Symbol (1992): "Love 2 the 9's." Unpopular opinion for sure. Yes, I know "7" is on this album. "The Sacrifice of Victor" is also a fierce competitor (I often rewind it just to hear the harmony on "Amen" at the end). This is another album that has grown on me, and I think it's one of his strongest from the decade. "Love 2 the 9's" just makes me happy; Prince was so good at capturing pure joy in his compositions.

4. Come (1994): "Papa." I read about this song before I ever heard it. I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't the ominous music and heavy, allegedly personal lyrics. It's one of his most unique songs, and the end tugs at my heart every time. "If you love somebody, your life won't be in vain."

5. The Black Album (1994): "Bob George." I don't have a strong personal connection to this album. I have grown to appreciate it, especially through hearing analysis from black scholars on its cultural significance. "Bob George" is Prince at his funniest and quirkiest.

6. The Gold Experience (1995): "Shy." Why am I subjecting myself to this exercise? It's painful to make these choices, but the bass and guitar parts on this track are so interesting (please listen closely in your headphones). I am also a sucker for Prince showing off his Sly Stone-esque vocal ad libs. And it's really great songwriting; the lyrics are creative and vague, so you can have fun filling in the holes. "Cool, dark skin and hot virgin white..."

7. Chaos and Disorder (1996): "The Same December." Break out the tambourines! My favorite part of this song is the gospel music-inspired outro. He switches up the groove multiple times throughout this song, and it's all very delicious. There are also thought-provoking lyrics about unity and the power of perception: "You only see what your heart will show."

8. Emancipation (1996): "Jam of the Year." This is an underrated gem. In the past, it took me a while to comb through this three-disc album and appreciate the songs. However, I instantly loved the laid back groove of "Jam of the Year," along with Rosie Gaines' amazing riffs. Just recently, while listening with headphones, I noticed some ad libs by Prince that I never caught before. That happens a lot with his music.

9. Crystal Ball (1998): "Crystal Ball." I'm not a huge fan of this album, but there are a few tracks I'll play from time to time. The title song, recorded back in 1986, is a 10-minute opus combining all the familiar Prince elements--war, sex and Jesus--over an orchestral arrangement by Clare Fischer. I also have some deeper thoughts about Prince's crystal ball imagery that I'll share in my book.

10. The Truth (1998): "Animal Kingdom." This is one of Prince's top ten albums of all time. I can say that with confidence. When I was younger, I never had any bootlegs of Prince music, so I didn't even know he had a lot of acoustic tunes before I found this project at Half Price Books. I have such a personal relationship with all of these songs. As the years have passed, I find myself drawn to "Animal Kingdom." Prince managed to make a really eccentric song that is still soulful as hell (again, please listen closely to his vocal ad libs).

11. The Vault: Old Friends 4 Sale (1999): "Old Friends 4 Sale." More times than not, Prince's re-worked versions of songs are inferior to the original versions. This iteration is an exception; to me, it's equally as strong as the 1985 version. The orchestration is beautiful, and I will always be a sucker for recordings that feature Prince doing soulful vocal ad libs (as you may have gathered by reading this list).

12. Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic (1999): "The Greatest Romance Ever Sold." This album is a contender for my least favorite Prince project of all time. This song is one of its few gems. It's R&B with an Arabic flavor and Biblical lyrics--all things that I love. Plus, I'll always remember seeing this video when I was a young teenager and thinking, "This sounds good but he's ... odd."


Can you pick just one favorite song from each '90s album? Please comment with your lists below!

Subscribe to my e-mail list for updates on my book on Prince's spiritual journey. Click here.

Friday, June 7, 2019

"It's June" - Prince Birthday Giveaway!


Congrats to the winner, Nate E.! 

This contest has closed. 

Subscribe to my e-mail list for updates on my book on Prince's spiritual journey. Click here.

Friday, May 31, 2019

"Come to the Park and Play" - Interview with Kathy Good

Photo courtesy of Kathy Good

It's been over 25 years since Kathy Good went in search of Prince in New York City. Trudging over snow and ice in the dead of winter, she asked passersby where he might be. Visits to Central Park, the zoo and even a rooftop proved fruitless.

That was the story line for Good's audition tape for Prince's 1994 video, "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World." A huge fan since the early '80s, the New York native saw Prince's vague newspaper ad--"Eligible bachelor seeks the most beautiful girl in the world," it read--and sent in a couple snapshots at the behest of her friends. Selected as one of the finalists, she was asked to submit a video.

Then, Prince called her at home.

Kathy Good's audition video for "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" 

"He said, 'Who did your video?'" Good recalled, laughing. "Those were the first words. ... And he asked what I was wearing."

With a background in sound recording and experience managing post-production for commercials and film, Good's audio/visual skills were evident. Prince saw something in her and invited her to be in his music video.

Prince's newspaper ad for "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,"
courtesy of Kathy Good

According to Good, original plans to host the shoot in Los Angeles were derailed by the massive 1994 earthquake. To her delight, production was moved to Prince's home, Paisley Park.

At the airport, she met a woman who was also en route to the video shoot.

"I was like, 'Wait a minute, there are other girls?'" Good said. "'I thought I was the only one.'"

Correspondence from Paisley Park,
courtesy of Kathy Good

In fact, Prince featured several women of myriad colors, shapes and sizes in various roles (singer, mother and even president).

With her dreadlocks and signature top hat (she wears one every day), Good felt out of place. She was also one of the oldest women there.

"I'm this funky girl and there were all these girls with beautiful hair and long eyelashes," said Good, who did her own makeup for the shoot. "I'm just not that kind of girl. I'm a nerd."

But in the video, Good, who portrays a director, is striking. Though Antoine Fuqua was hired to direct the video, Prince ended up coaching Good through her performance. They also formed a bond on set.

"I followed him all around," she recalled. She also stood in for his lighting and held his cane while he filmed his scenes.

"After a while he just gave it to me," she said.


At the end of shoot, Prince pulled her aside. "I want to work with you," he said. Nothing ever came of that desire, but she did see him again at one of his shows in New York.

"He's like, 'Hang out and we'll dance together,'" she said. But she didn't want to be a hanger-on.

"I'm just not about being in that scene," she said. "What did I have to show him? I didn't have anything. I didn't have music."

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Now that Prince is gone, Good has her memories--watching him walk up the stairs in pants that exposed his behind through a layer of mesh; that time he told her not to dirty up his bathroom; that other time he joked about disliking peanut butter and chocolate cookies.

But she has so much more. Like others who have interacted with Prince, she has been inspired beyond measure.

"After the whole thing happened, I was like, 'Well, what was that all about?'" Good said. "'It's gotta be something more.' And I thought, 'Well, maybe it's to come into my own. I never was doing what I really should be doing because I'm a creative person. And I was doing a job that wasn't creative at all, and it was very frustrating to me. But when he died, I thought, 'You know what? You just have to go for it.'"

Today, Good is fully committed to her work as a watercolor painter and writer, creating whimsical, Gothic characters for children. She recently completed her first art show at her local library.

Painting of Prince by Kathy Good.
"It's small, just like him," she said.

More than 25 years after being found by Good, Prince remains a steady presence in her life.

"I think he just had such a big, powerful soul that touched so many people in a cosmic way," she said.


Follow Kathy Good on Instagram @kgoodart

Subscribe to my e-mail list for updates on my book on Prince's spiritual journey. Click here.