For those who don’t know, this is my attempt to paraphrase something from Sherlock Holmes… but it’s nonetheless relevant.
Feel free to call me crazy or dismiss this post or whatever you feel like doing, I’m just telling what’s been going on.
The last time I really did a lot with Prince, writing and such… it was writing about the second album. And I did it when I was very low on sleep and having trouble sleeping. And what came was pretty strong, but towards the end, it did get a bit tiring and I was losing my focus.
But lately, the thing seems to be that I will write when the spark is really hot and I follow something through until it’s fully realized or I get out everything I’d wanted to say.
It’s oddly been paralleling what I’d been reading about in the Purple Rain sessions. There’s been so much talk about Prince rushing to get out songs while they’re still very vivid in his mind. And I feel like I’m starting to have that going as well. Because what has been coming out has been very on point and well written. And the writing process almost feels like it’s coming from another place. Certain sparks are hitting me like lightning bolts and I have to scribble it down. I have this palm sized notebook I’d had with me at work in the morning just in case something hits and there’ve been a lot of instances of that.
On the other hand, and here’s the crazy talk part… I feel like Prince is spending me vibes to the point where we’re having these one sided conversations.
I’d said a few times on Twitter and Facebook how I only listen to him when I’m really getting a vibe about the direction I’m going in. Because if I choose a song at random, it doesn’t quite feel right.
And I’m using these vibes to pick out the albums I listen to as well.
So there have been three different instances that have happened over the past couple weeks and they are going into different projects. And I hope today to write some of them down on my laptop so I can further expand on them later. I would have earlier today, but the spark was hot about Taylor Swift’s new album and I’d been meaning to write about it for the past week.
The first one… a while back, I rearranged the 1999 album and added B-Sides and “Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks into a playlist… oh and also Moonbeam Levels…
I’d been thinking about how this is working into a bit of a story that begins with one recently failed relationship and that train of thought ends with “Stand Back” where she kinda expresses her point of view on things.
Then the second half of it is going through previous relationships, concluding there must be “something in the water” but ultimately you should be “glad to be free”… of course it does end on the positive with party vibes and DMSR and 1999.
The other day I got hit hard with inspiration and started scribbling down a storyline. Where Prince has more or less become a cult music star in Uptown and he holds concerts every Saturday night (“I guess that makes it all right”) and people love him, but there’s more to him than he’s portraying.
Plus I was listening to some songs from Controversy that he’d do at the concert, but seeing a familiar face in a crowd prompts him to leave after a few songs to write Moonbeam Levels and work through some other songs that he realizes he’d written about her.
I got as far as “Stand Back” while playing the songs simultaneously with writing scribbles at work.
The only thing is he finds resolution with this lover with this song, which she brings to him and he records a keyboard part for it and offers to do it uncredited.
But yeah, for a while I was getting some stuff down, prefacing his character and talking about some things in the concert performances.
Maybe one day I’ll have it fully realized and share it here…
Another came from an interesting place and just went really far out… I did a tweet about it, but it didn’t get much comment.
But it all started when my fellow purple knight and a friend from work started talking about the Batman album… I have no idea if I’ve developed this negative attitude about the album from MC on the Peach & Black podcast, but there have been a lot of times lately where I hear about how people say it being great and, worse, being better than the LoveSexy album… I just lose it…
When I was going through the albums, it scored second to last with only For You below it… For You is last, not because it isn’t great, but because the songwriting isn’t there yet and the originality has yet to come.
But Batman… I dunno… aside from Electric Chair, there aren’t many songs off it that make me really want to come back to it. As good as Scandalous is, I really don’t like Prince’s vocal on it. It grates at some points like he has a sore throat or something. Or he was just way too emotionally invested and it didn’t come off. The quality isn’t there like it was when he did The Beautiful Ones.
So anyway, I started thinking about how I don’t want to listen to it… but my mind started reeling about the history of it, how Michael Jackson was originally the choice for it, and that Tim Burton wanted to clear 1999 and Baby I’m a star for the movie, and Prince said no and wound up writing an entire album.
Then I thought about how this album ruined what could have been an amazing spiritual album trifecta- LoveSexy, Rave Unto the Joy Fantastic and Graffiti Bridge.
Over my journey through Prince’s music, I fell pretty hard for LoveSexy and Graffiti Bridge to the point I wish that trifecta did happen. And I also considered what Prince’s career would have been like if he did jettison it for Batman.
Fact is that Batman was Prince’s first big successful album since Purple Rain. A commercial success… without that, who knows how much longer he’d stay relevant. I thought about if Prince had completed this trifecta, would he have crossed over to be a full on Christian artist? What the conflict that led to him changing his name have happened? It wasn’t just the record deal he wanted to get out of, but he also wanted to leave that old Prince behind… which he kinda did when he crossed the threshold to become a Jehovah’s Witness.
See, stuff like that… I just got all existential and crap about this 😛 stuff that I could never put in The Word because who else but really crazy Prince fanboys and fangirls want to read about it?
Ultimately, though, because of the way Graffiti Bridge was billed as the sequel to Purple Rain (not to mention the cheesy title track and sub-par material from the other artists in the movie/soundtrack), it was doomed to fail because only a small amount of his fanbase would get it.
So if Batman never happened, his string of “not commercially viable” albums would have continued… I think D&P could have still saved it, but I don’t know if WB would have offered him that $100 million dollar 6 album deal without the success of the Batman album.
…so that’s another one…
recently… and by recently, I mean last Thursday…
And this is crazy town stuff… it was in the evening and I was going upstairs and I heard an inkling of a song from Musicology. I look up and I ask “really?”
it makes me think of how Mayte said in her book… how Prince would often say to her “you know what would be cool?…” before he has some sort of idea for a new project… or changing her name to Arabia 😛 it feels like this, but Prince is sending me vibes from the other side about what I should be doing.
The 2000 stuff really hasn’t been on my radar lately. I’d been pretty much hanging in the 80’s ever since starting the Purple Rain sessions. Heck, I’d been putting Apollonia and Vanity 6 on my iPod so I am following the book a bit, but not literally to a tee like I had last year. Every now and then, I will play something from another era.
In the middle of the week, I was inclined to listen to D&P because both “Thunder” and “Money don’t matter 2night” were coming to mind. The latter was during the thunderstorm that took our power out for almost 24 hours.
And I was feeling at such unease about whether or not we’d get power back, I put the album in and kinda asked Prince to just be there as my friend and not as Prince. I tend to listen to his albums differently than other artists. Where I expect to be floored or expect really out there vibes and whatever else. And Prince was there as my friend. The songs were just helping me de-stress and get through the drive home. And heading home, I was feeling so positive and good about everything. It was like I knew our power had come back.
Meanwhile, come Thursday, he sends me Musicology vibes… and I decide the next day to listen to Musicology.
It was something I REALLY needed. And Prince was there as a friend again. At the same time, there were some things about this album that I didn’t even know were there and it’s the first album I bought.
The funny thing was that certain nuances were coming through that hadn’t been before. One was during ICPC and I said something in reaction to what was being said in the song and he freaking said it a second later. The same thing. I don’t know if it was something I forget and just remembered about or we reacted to the lyric the same way on a subconscious level or he put my reaction in my mouth purposely… it’s been happening so much lately, these mind link moments with Prince… it’s hard for me to believe he isn’t communicating with me in some way.
But it’s hard to fully believe in it because we’d never met when he was alive. Our only communication ever was him responding to a Twitter question I asked him and it was about Judith Hill… because I figured that to get some sort of reaction, I’d have to ask him about a project he was currently very excited about.
I’m now thinking about that “Greatest Romance” lyric about “your body was designed to respond to mine in spite of your desire to mold me”…
this school of thought is making me think about how I’d been drumming a lot with his music lately and how I am subconsciously nailing a lot of it, even when they’re songs I haven’t heard all that often. Either my instincts are getting sharp about rhythms, or I’d gotten sharper at this from all the time I’d been drumming through Depeche Mode songs… or he is doing something and communicating with me in this strange way.
And what I’ve kind of learned about Prince since he passed away… as much as I want to keep him around so he won’t go away, it has to be a certain way and it’s always his way. I shouldn’t push for certain albums to sound the same way twice. And I can’t just listen to an album because I feel like I should. I need to get some sort of inclination that it’s the right direction to go in.
And it does feel like Prince is showing me the right way to go about things. What the ultimate result of all this is- I don’t know. I don’t know if it’ll benefit The Word where I’m going through Prince’s music. Or it’ll earn me more Twitter followers. Or more people will comment on what I blog about.
Going back to Musicology, though… when I wrote about it for The Word, I talked about my first impression of it not being great… what I really should do is focus on Prince’s intention of the album. To bring back musicianship, promoting real music by real musicians and it was the first time in a while, supposedly, where he played all the instruments himself instead of enlisting members of his band. (Although there were quite a few songs on One Night Alone and The Rainbow Children that were one man band efforts… I think, I’ll have to double check).
I’d recently been getting very jaded about the songs on the radio. On my Taylor Swift post I just did, I wrote:
“Overrotation- where great songs go to die”
…it feels like it’s become that for me. Even the songs I really like on the radio, the fact the radio plays them 3+ times a day is killing them for me. I don’t like hearing the same songs all the time. And the radio station at work, as good as it is, it plays the same songs every day. Certain popular artists have their songs played throughout the day. The hot singles are played 3 times in that 8 hour period. And there are usually 1-3 Prince songs… always the same ones… 1999, Little Red Corvette, Kiss, When Doves Cry… occasionally there’ll be Raspberry Beret to break things up… but also haven’t heard Purple Rain in some time, which is GREAT… I don’t want to hear that song on the radio if they won’t bother to play the whole song.
But there are songs like Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” that I love to death… but them playing it all the time is ruining my adoration of it… I do put on my iPod when it comes on so I don’t have to hear it, but now I’m kinda flinching when it starts… I had hoped by buying the album, they’d stop playing it… so far, that hasn’t happened.
But music in general kinda feels like it’s gone off the deep end, oddly, since Prince’s death… now it’s all EDM or autotune and there’s no more superstars and there’s very few musicians in the industry anymore. All the popular songs is manufactured by record labels.
Truthfully, the only artists I really care about in music anymore are Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. I do like some of Charlie Puth’s new stuff to the point I might get his album. But I’d just reached my limit with the radio… and it’s sad cuz I listen to it a lot.
So Musicology made all of that fade away, just like it did when I was in college. I had a particularly bad afternoon where everyone on campus was playing hip-hop on their stereos and I didn’t like anything that was being played. I felt like I was losing my mind cuz it was all garbage. I shut myself in my on-campus apartment, took a shower, and then put on Musicology to remind myself what music is supposed to sound like. Real instruments instead of manufactured beats. And it made me feel so much better.
I really do hope that Prince’s message got through to some people and real musicianship will be coming back soon.
Ironically I also thought the other day how Prince may have ultimately been responsible for a lot of this terrible music. Because he brought the Linn-drum and Fairlight into popularity where he was using drum machines instead of actual drums. And he was taking bass lines out of song and getting the bass to come in the shape of reverb on drums and certain instruments… a lot of artists are doing that now, but the essence of music as an artform is getting lost.
Anyway… I’m kinda losing my train of thought, but that kinda explains my mindset pretty well. At least I hope so 😛