When I watched Prince perform an acoustic version of "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" on MTV in 2004, I wasn't as familiar with the song as I am now. (The audience wasn't singing along with much confidence, either.) When he finished playing, he asked, "Remember that from high school?" I'm a little jealous of fans who can say they do; I was just a toddler when the Sign O' the Times album dropped in 1987. His '80s period was not the soundtrack of my childhood. I developed a deeper relationship with his music as an adult. So, for me, "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" brings up memories of riding two buses to my grant-writing job at the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. For some reason, of all the tracks on the album, I added that one to my commuting playlist. I remember being especially impressed by the last two and a half minutes. Prince always gets me when he goes beyond the perfect, three-minute pop ditty and taps further into the emotion of the song with his guitar. I listened closely to each lick and the silence, which reminds me of what he said during the Piano & a Microphone show on January 21, 2016: “The space between the notes, that’s the good part. How long the space is … that’s how funky it is or how funky it ain’t." Sheesh. That last section of "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" is truly funky and it is why I even listen to the song. I'm still hearing new things! And just think: He wrote this song in 1979--eight years before its official release. I can't wait to hear the early version on the forthcoming remastered edition of Sign O' the Times.
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