As with so much of the art that has had the most impact on me, it took me a while to warm up to Prince. I was still a kid during the “Purple Rain” era, and not quite ready for a figure as raw, as confident, and as blatantly sexual as Prince. A few years later, however, Prince’s apocalyptic anthem “7” –undoubtedly the biggest pop hit to ever be inspired by the Bible’s Book of Revelations –was seriously rocking my world. After that, I was a Prince fan for life.
Prince was so talented in so many ways that one of his talents could actually make you forget another. For instance it was easy to overlook his status as arguably the greatest living rock guitarist –at least until you saw a video like his performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of fame, where his incandescent solo made you forget he was flanked by some of the most famous and respected rockers of all time. Be sure to watch for the moment at the end when he tosses his guitar straight up in the air —and it never comes down again!
A few days ago, my wife and I were discussing the the meaning of the lyrics to the song “Cream.” A cousin had told her that “cream” meant white girls, whereas I had always assumed it was a sexual reference. Luckily this video surfaced that provided the answer from Prince’s own lips. It’s all about him! Suddenly all the lyrics make perfect sense.
Any number of musicians paid tribute to Prince in the days following his death. One of the most touching and appropriate was D’Angelo’s performance of Prince’s elegiac requiem, “Sometimes It Snows in April.”
The wide range of musicians in all genres who have covered Prince in the last few days is a mark of how he truly was an artist’s Artist. Out of all of these new renditions of Prince songs, two of my favorites were among the least expected. The most distant from Prince’s original versions and/or previous covers, they showcased how great a songwriter Prince was, even aside from his talent as a performer.
Country rocker Chris Stapelton: “Nothing Compares 2 U”
Alternative music icon Billy Corgan: “The Cross”
When Prince was alive, his lawyers made sure none of his music was on YouTube or other streaming services, but in the past week, grieving fans have posted nearly all of it. Here’s one of my favorites, the scorching SNL performance of one of his lesser-known classics, “Fury.”
Who knows how long these will be up, so enjoy them now while you can. Rest in Peace, Prince.