Expect the Unexpected: 3121

I was pretty skeptical about picking this album up again. Its track record with me has rarely been good and its been a road filled with disappointments. Naturally, I’m very wary of it. At least playing through in order.

I decided that maybe I’ll listen to a couple of tracks and then move onto Planet Earth. But once I started, I couldn’t stop. Here’s the list of the songs.

  • Black Sweat
  • Get on the Boat
  • Beautiful, Loved & Blessed
  • 3121
  • Te Amo Corazon
  • Lolita
  • Incense & Candles
  • Love
  • Satisfied
  • Fury
  • The Word
  • The Dance

It’s strange that I can never find a storyline within the album unless I jumble things up a little bit. I found something that’s hidden deep down and I had to wait until the very ending to figure out what’s what.

I’ve been getting sick of Black Sweat, but when I was listening to it, I could picture him in the video and he really knew how to make me smile. And not just any smile, its the smile that usually would have “blushing” accompany it. I haven’t smiled quite like that since I heard 3121 for the first time.

“Get on the Boat”… I wanted to get off the boat, but I stopped myself from stopping it. Then I realized that it was my conscience that kept me going. I always believe the best in Prince no matter what, so deep down, I wanted to believe I could find some good in this album. Really good work from the guest musicians and some cool piano work from the man himself.

“Beautiful Loved & Blessed” really shows his age. I’m not quite sure how or why, but it just does. I can still remember the SNL performance when I saw it the first time and its a very sweet song. I don’t know quite why. It doesn’t feel quite like a Prince song, but I love his lyrics. And I feel like Tamar’s words in the beginning rung true… Prince “gave me a new name” (DreamyPop) when I joined the boards and I haven’t been quite the same person since, but I love the person he’s turned me into and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

“3121” felt like the first turning point in the album. I could remember what it was like when I first heard it. I can just picture him in the studio with this one, just going crazy with all of the instruments he could get his hands on and the guitar solo, nothing else like it. It’s fonky and futuristic and all kinds of things. I was thinking that Lolita would follow immediately because it always does. I kept contemplating, “Prince always does the unexpected”… but then I thought, “just when you think he’ll do the unexpected, he lets you down”… I wasn’t sure which it would be.

Then “Te Amo Corazon” came on and I wasn’t expecting it at all. I listened to it and visualized the Brits performance along with it. Those shining eyes of his and that beautiful complexition… I can still hear the live version in my head now, haha. I remember that this was one of the first songs where I connected with Prince on  a personal level. It was like… we were side by side and it was like “heaven on earth”.

“Lolita” came on soon after… and it’s approriate. In the last song, he was singing about his current love, but here, he’s trying to fend off a young senorita that’s after him. It definitely shows his age, but in a good way, but it’s almost the perfect combination of sophistication and personality… 2 qualities that shine through his recent material. This is another studio track where I can really imagine him recording and having fun with, the keyboards especially. Now that makes me smile.

“Incense & Candles”… there are almost no words for that song. I was a bit distracted (posting on a thread), but I think he got me under his spell the whole time. I couldn’t really think otherwise… incense happens 2b very seductive 😉

And from there on, it pretty much went in order, each song exactly after the other in sequence. Not exactly what I wanted in most cases, but there’s always a method to Prince’s “madness”.

“Love” was a blast. I was thinking about the acoustic version and how they differ. This one is still so much more fun. And it’s so interesting how he pretty much surpasses his “record scratch” quota on this song alone. But he really knows how to make them sound like just the right sound to add. Unfortunately, another song came to mind that I wanted to keep out of my head (not a good history there and not at Prince-related). I turned up my volume to block it out.

I wanted “Satisfied” to come next because I know it wouldn’t work with any of the other tracks and what storylines they could possibly generate. I got my wish and I actually liked the song. It was very subtle, but enjoyable… and that rarely happens. I was thinking of the possibilities for the upcoming ending storyline. I wanted it to end with “The Dance” followed by “Fury”… I mean its approriate right?

Unfortunately, Prince had different ideas. “Fury” came on next and I still enjoyed it. I understand the story behind it word for word… I can’t recall them now unfortunately… but enjoyment was all that matters here. I started praying that “The Word” would be the last song and not the other way around. I didn’t want the album to end on a sad note…

Um…. haha, Prince isn’t going to listen to me. “The Word” came next and I spent the first minute moping about what the last song would be like. I imagined him in that dark room with only a spotlight on him as he sat on his stool playing acoustic guitar. Somehow, it was his twisted way of saying that he wishes for my happiness more than his own (not just me, but all people)… but it’s my wish for his happiness. But I generally care more for the people around me than myself the same way. Yet another similarity. The mystique this song creates is just amazing. No live performance or video would ever be able to show it off the same way. The scream at the end of this song really had meaning this time around, especially with the last song.

“The Dance” had me from start to finish. I lived every minute of it through Prince’s eyes. I wonder a lot how he came up with the idea of dueting with himself. This feels like the A-side of “Somewhere here on Earth.” It’s very classy and sophisticated and is based around grand piano and flute. This is full of conflict within himself and he’s thinking about where he should go from here. His tendency to change his mind is shown throughout the song. I “played” along with his piano and tried to feel exactly the way he felt throughout all this. This really shows the complexities of his mind and the enigma he truly is. I don’t think many of his songs get THIS close to that. (I just thought that up and I amaze myself).

When I got to the last portion, I cued the visual back to my mind. Prince in a spinning room of mirrors being viewed from above… kind of a scary thought, but just imagine how Prince feels. I try to think fo what he’s wearing… but I can’t even think of the exact outfit I have in mind. I shook my head when I thought about the one from the “Guitar” commercials… something like that, but not quite.

Anyway, I could feel the pain and anguish in his tone and it was heart-wrenching. Not exactly the same “heart-breaking” that was exhibited in “Eye Love U, but don’t trust U anymore”… but its more frustration, fear and sadness that he might never find acceptence. And it seems like that is his biggest fear… and ending up living alone would be like living in a nightmare.

What happened at the very end of the song, I thought I recalled, but it suddenly made sense when I heard it. He gasps at the end of the song, as if he woke from a dream… or maybe that whole song was a dream that turnd into nightmare where he was confronted by his greatest fears. Was “The Dance” really a dream sequence plotted from Prince’s mind?

3121 may not make sense in order… but in Prince’s game of randomness, you really do discover the unexpected, things you never thought you could find in your wildest dreams… or in this case, nightmares.

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