Saturday, April 23, 2016

Ten things about Prince

1) When I was stationed in Korea, '82-'83, 1999 was just a notch below "The Message" and "Atomic Dog" among my anthems. When I got off the plane at Lambert Airport coming "back to the world," I kissed the tires of a red Corvette because of him.

2) Miles Davis had him pegged. Prince synthesized all the black music of his lifetime -- not just Jimi, Sly, and JB, but Little Richard, Marvin Gaye, and Smokey Robinson, too -- into an amalgam that was always distinctly his own.

3) He was also a better male Joni Mitchell impersonator than either Townshend or Rundgren.

4) No one else so defined the sound of the '80s. Those drum and synth sounds were ubiquitous. And he wrote, played, and produced everything on his records. No Quincy Jones and battalion of songwriters and studio cats needed.

5) Unlike Michael, who styled himself as a child, or Bruce, who was about as sexy as the Brawny paper towel guy, Prince exuded a polymorphous sexual vibe that scared the bejeezus out of people like Tipper Gore (which is part of the reason why I voted for Nader in Y2K, FWIW).

6) "Purple Rain" is the anthem of the '80s, hands down. It works as a gospel song, a rock song, or a country song. I used to think the strings at the end lasted too long. Now they seem just right.

7) The 12" mix of "Kiss" is the greatest funk jam the JBs never played.

8) He was the ultimate crossover artist. And in that sense, a creator of an inclusive community. We need more things to all agree on.

9) His concert on MTV was like Sly at Woodstock meets JB at Boston Garden -- some kind of ultimate R&B throwdown.

10) He was a Jehovah's Witness who gave back, quietly. More successful folks should follow his example.


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