|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.
"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?
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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