This is part 3 (of 5) of the memory of Prince, who passed away on April 21st 2016. This post contains part 2 of the 50 Prince songs, numbers 25 to 11.
25. Condition Of The Heart
(Around The World In A Day, 1985)
A beautiful ballad with an orchestral, almost classical, composition, in which Prince uses his voice acrobatically. It’s an amazing song, which has been a favorite for years. The lyrics are beautiful also: There was a woman from the ghetto / Who made funny faces just like / Clara Bow, how was I 2 know / That she would wear the same / Cologne as U and giggle the same / Giggle that U do / Whenever I would act a fool, the fool / With a condition of the heart.
24. When You Were Mine
(Dirty Mind, 1980)
Prince was inspired to write a rock song while listening to John Lennon. It’s one of his most covered songs; it’s extremely catchy. I know / That you’re going with another guy / I don’t care / Cuz I love u, baby, that’s no lie / I love you more than I did / When you were mine.
23. The Future
A fantastic song off an otherwise not so great album (it’s certainly not one of my favorites). The lyrics entail a grim, cold, future, much like Gotham City, that’s in need of spirituality that will last. It references ecstasy use within the, at that time, popular house-scene: Yellow Smiley offers me X / Like he’s drinking seven up / I would rather drink 6 razor blades / Razor blades from a paper cup / He can’t understand, I say 2 tough / It’s just that I’ve seen the future / And boy it’s rough.
The title song of one of my favorite albums. The album got mixed reviews upon release and was, caused by the cover photo, banned/censored by a lot of stores in America. Certain (chains of) malls/shops didn’t sell the album at all or only behind the counter. The album replaced the, at the last minute, recalled The Black Album and was recorded, by Prince (with very little help from his band at the time) within a period of 7 weeks. The album was intended to be listened to as a whole (the first cd-pressings had only 1 track). Lovesexy, the song, is related to the central theme of the album: The feeling you get when you fall in love…not with a boy or girl but with the heavens above. It’s an energetic dance song and was a favorite during the Lovesexy tour, as well auditory (extremely inventive drum programming) as visually (extensive dance routines by Cat and Prince).
(Sign O’ The Times, 1987)
Originally titled Adore (Until The End Of Time): the last song of the Sign O’ The Times album is a beautiful ballad, which features beautiful horn contributions by Atlanta Bliss and Eric Leeds. One of the Prince songs never to be released as a single, but, nevertheless, received extensive airplay, and because of that the song is well known with audiences (Adore was part of the The Hits/The B-Sides release from 1993). The song is an extremely romantic tribute: Until the end of time/I’ll be there 4 U / U own my heart and mind / I truly adore U / If God one day struck me blind / Your beauty I’d still see / Love is 2 weak 2 define / Just what U mean 2 me. Their love is pure and full of surrender, so much so that even the angels cry (of compassion) as the two lovers make love: When we be makin’ love / I only hear the sounds / Heavenly angels cryin’ up above / Tears of joy pourin’ down on us. Luckily, Prince maintains his sense of humor. The love isn’t limitless: U could burn up my clothes / Smash up my ride / Well, maybe not the ride. Classic song!
Lovesexy‘s closer. Have you had your plus sign today? and Do we mark U present, or do we mark U late? are the questions asked in the song. It conveys banning negativity and raises social themes: Can a boy who drops out at school / At 13 years of age / Answer the Q of life and death / When it slaps him in the face / Who’s 2 blame when he’s got no place 2 go / And all he’s got is the sense 2 know / That a life of crime’ll help him beat U in the race. The vocals are partially spoken/rapped (as Prince previously did in All The Critics Love U In New York from 1982). This song, also, features a motif that’s very short, but incredibly funky; after 05:45 minutes in, it lasts about 5 seconds.
(Art Official Age, 2014)
Initially released as a single as The Breakdown, five-and-a-half months prior to being (also) released on Art Official Age (on the same day as the album Plectrumelectrum). From 2013 onwards this song was regularly played at shows. Prince called this song his favorite current song at the Arsenio Hall Show in March of 2014 and was, unexpectedly, released a few minutes before midnight on April 18th 2014, a few hours after the announcement that Prince had signed a new deal with Warner Bros. The song was freely available when pre-ordering the album. Breakdown is a melancholic ballad that looks back on the life of the story teller: I used to throw the party every New Year’s Eve / First one intoxicated, last one to leave / Waking up in places that you would never believe / Give me back the time, you can keep the memories // Keep breaking me down, down, down. At the end of the song the lyrics are proclaimed in the typical Prince scream-singing style: goose bumps!
18. Power Fantastic
(The Hits/The B-Sides, 1993)
Written by Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman and Prince. The song was recorded live at Prince’s home-studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota as the centerpiece for the planned (but never released) album Dream Factory, in March of 1985. Prince sat in the corner of the basement, together with The Revolution, except Lisa Coleman. She and her piano were seated, upstairs, inside the house. Connected by headphones and microphones they played the song in one take. The recording is remembered by many who were present, as many had goose bumps after the recording. Eric Leeds: That’s one of the greatest things we ever did. Atalanta Bliss’ trumpet playing led many to believe that this song was an outtake of the famed collaboration between Prince and Miles Davis. The project Dream Factory was cancelled, when Prince decided to disband The Revolution.
17. The Love We Make
The Love We Make is a song off the, in my opinion, weak album Emancipation that Prince used to speak to the spirit of a friend lost to drugs. This probably refers to Jonathan Melvoin (brother of Wendy & Susannah) who died in 1996 of a heroin overdose. It’s a beautiful, sensitive song. Prince is very passionate throughout his performance: Precious is the baby with a mother / That tells him that his Saviour is coming soon / All that believe will cleanse and purify themselves / Put down the needle, put down the spoon.
16. Right Back Here In My Arms
As was often the case with Prince, even his weaker, disappointing (latter day) albums contained a few stunning highlights, as is the case on Emancipation. Right Back Here In My Arms is a primary example. The song was heard in public as early as November 1995 (through radiostation KMOJ in Minneapolis). Particularly the vocals going back and forth, are exquisite. Hearing this song and realizing it is all Prince, once again, is almost incomprehensible.
15. Sometimes It Snows In April
Last song off Parade and one the most famous Prince songs. The song was recorded in one take and was released as-is. The sound of fingers sliding over the (guitar) string and the squeaking stools on which Prince and Wendy & Lisa sat, are clearly audible. The song tells of Tracy (the main character of the movie Under The Cherry Moon), who’s died. Prince misses him and hopes to see him again, after this life. The lyrics are sensitive, feeling and accepting of the inevitable: Sometimes it snows in April / Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad / Sometimes I wish that life was never ending / But all good things, they say, never last. After Prince’s passing (in the month of April, which, also in Holland, produced actual snow) this song became a kind of theme song.
(The Gold Experience, 1995)
February 1994: Prince played a show at Paisley Park where new music would be heard. I recall that the studio versions were played on national Dutch radio. I absolutely loved the new songs, the sound and the innovation he (once again) portrayed. One of those songs is Now. It is extremely funky and has a number of hip-hop influences (raps, samples), which were successfully incorporated into his music. The end result is awesome. Still a song that amazes me and which has no counterpart. The song starts immediately after a NPG-Operator-segue Welcome 2 The Dawn/You have just accessed the Now Experience/This experience is great for dancing and improving self-esteem/Other titles in this category include Irresistible Bitch, Housequake and Sexy M.F./But that was then, this is and the scream: Now!.
13. Sign O’ The Times
(Sign O’ The Times, 1987)
Included on the configurations for the (scrapped) albums Dream Factory and Crystal Ball, the song ended up as the title song of the Sign O’ The Times album. The song was written on a Sunday; the day Prince wrote his most introspective songs. The song was largely composed on the Fairlight sampling synthesizer. All sounds of the song come form the standard library of sounds. The song tells of different socio-political problems, like AIDS, gang related violence, natural disasters, poverty, drug abuse, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and the imminent threat of the nuclear holocaust. At the time this was the announcement of the double-album, to be released in March 1987. The perfect introduction to the genius album that was to follow: Top song!.
12. Hot Thing
(Sign O’ The Times, 1987)
Recorded in August 1986 (one day prior to Forever In My Life) in Prince’s home studio by himself. Extremely funky, it contains a very distinctive, original Prince synthesizer sound and motif, which only he can pull off. One of the (many) highlights of his career. Hot thing, maybe U should give your folks a call / tell them you’re going 2 the Crystal Ball / tell them you’re coming home late / if you’re coming home at all / tell them U found a brand new baby doll / I can’t wait 2 get U home / where we could be alone / I could read U poetry / and then we could make a story of our own.
11. Days Of Wild
(Crystal Ball, 1998)
Just like Now, Days Of Wild was part of the new music Prince introduced in February of 1994. The released version is a live version recorded in December of 1995 at Paisley Park. In 2002 Days Of Wild was released as a single in a guitar-solo-version, where Prince freaks out en lets his guitar roar: fantastic. The (unreleased) studio version was recorded in January of 1994. The primary theme of the song was inspired by Caravan, a jazz classic performed (for the first time) by Duke Ellington in 1936. Funny moment in the song when Prince declares Oh oh oh, by the way, I play guitar!, before playing a (short) solo.
All item images: princevault.com