Musicology: the perfect chill-out album?

Can’t say for sure if that’s true, but one thing’s for sure. It was a pleasant experience throughout. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed myself. I can’t really put it into words, though. I think that I’m getting back into the swing of things since I saw the Leno performance and all the footage that would follow. The day after, I checked out VH1’s 100 Greatest 80’s song for the nth time and I happened to find out about it just before they were gonna do “Kiss” (#83). I watched through all that good music, just to hear what they had to say about “Little Red Corvette” (#75) and “When Doves Cry” (#5).

Then yesterday, I checked out some new footage that I just gotten. Mostly, I spent the night with an ONA soundcheck from Berlin. Prince at piano is one thing, but hearing him chat with the audience is another. On top of Leno, it felt like I’d been seeing him for the first time in a very long time. I’ve been so busy with where the music takes me that I forget that there’s actually a person writing the music.

Why I say Musicology is a good chill-out album might have to do with some of the live footage I got a hold of earlier. I was watching him do DMSR at one of the tour spots and in another, I saw him observing and even taking part in a soundcheck where his band was rehearsing a Miles Davis track. There’s something about the soundcheck atmosphere that I find very intriguing. It’s Prince being Prince, being as much as a perfectionist he can be and making sure his band is up for the task. I got to think while watching the DMSR footage, “man, I wonder how his band can keep up with him. He has boundless energy when it comes to the music.” That’s probably why he changes musicians so much. There are a few reasons why he does that I’ve come to find.

1)     because they can’t keep up with his energy, play as long as he does and for as many days in a row as he does

2)     his vision has far exceeded their ability

3)      (thought I assume this happens rarely)… either he gets sick of their lack of professionalism or they get sick of his “control freak” nature

That was just a little aside that I added in spur of the moment.

Ultimately where I’m going with this is simply this: I’d seen so much live footage that I had a fresh idea of him in mind. Therefore, while listening to Musicology, it didn’t really come off as an album. I still felt the live “effect” of the music. In fact, I’d go as far to say that it felt like a private concert. I think that’s what any album has the potential to be. It’s your own private Prince concert that comes at a 10th of the cost of a concert ticket. The trick is that all kinds of people have purchased and experienced the same “private concert,” but each person sees it differently by experiencing it differently. Prince was giving the private concert to my headphones and I was enjoying the experience. Thanks the footage I’d been seeing, I was able to picture him clearly in my head as he played each of the songs, though I didn’t get a visual with every song.

Other than the nagging in my head that I should consider studying a bit for my upcoming exams instead of spending ALL of my time goofing off, and the first track have a few skips in it, the experience was just beyond pleasant. It had been such a long time since I’ve listened to Musicology (December, I think was the last time I picked it up for a listen), not to mention it’d been an even longer time since I enjoyed it this much.

Things started off a bit rough with “Musicology” because the song started skipping close to the point where he says “don’t u touch my stereo.” And it was somewhat appropriate it continued to skip around that line because the record was skipping at the time. Slowly, the music steadied itself and didn’t have any further problems. Even more amazing, I was recalling him playing with the band behind him. I completely forgot that he did this track (along with many others on the album) on his own, playing all of the instruments and doing all the vocals. I think I’m also very used to his albums where all of his songs would be him on guitar and lead vocal and the band’s playing behind him. To think he can still pull that effect on his own, that’s talent.

Throughout the album, I’d recall what it was like the very first time I heard it. Amazingly, the album was a combination of two things. I could recall my first impressions alongside newfound impressions of the music. All of the impressions were good, very good, in fact. The first impressions were in my mind and somewhat combining with new ones, making some songs sound better than they ever did.

“Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance,” was one song that took a while for me to get used to. In fact, I originally hated the vocals because it just sounded too gritty. Though I used to have a problem with a  lot of his vocals going back in my history listening to him (the screaming and different vocal effects was the first thing I developed a taste for). Here, I had no problems with it at all. I was getting into the instrumentals as well. Both it and its predecessor had quite a bit of personality in there.

“A Million Days” remains my absolute favorite on the album and I just couldn’t believe how it came off to me this time around. It just sounded so amazing, every piece of it in its place. I started to wonder if an artist inspired this particular sound because I hadn’t heard him do anything like it before. He should do more like it, but then again, if he did, this song wouldn’t be as special as it is. The music is compelling, but the lyrics paint one of the most beautiful pictures that his music can paint. Though it is in a moment of pain and despair, it is a beautiful picture. I feel like it’s a very personal track and it reveals so much about him. With most songs, he usually becomes another person that overshadows his usual shy, reserved self. This track is just full of heart and even surpassed the love I had for it originally. And I have a lot of love for this track.
While listening to it, I started to get ideas for my own music video for it, though I’ll have to see if that idea develops further next time.

“Life o’ the party” is a track looked down upon quite a bit, though I really don’t have much to say about it that I haven’t already said. It’s pretty much the same as its always been, pretty good, though I like a lot of tracks better than it.

“Call my name,” I fell in love with. This track I’m usually on the fence about, but today, I just paid attention to everything, soaking it all in. Every lyric, every note, every line. He was really inspired when he wrote this track. The lines are cheesy, but his delivery makes it beautiful. Can’t say enough how much I loved listening to the track tonight. I’ll see if I can dig up the video for it, along with a few others.

“Cinnamon Girl,” I remember looking up the lyrics for before I even got the album and I really liked the lyrics. Liked the song better the 2nd time around because I didn’t really like the video (that happened with a lot of the songs). Compelling lyrics and pretty much everything else, I was crazy about. It felt good to listen to it again.

“What do u want me to do?” was cool, calm and collected as always and I found myself thinking up the lyrics just before he sung them. I was surprised I could remember the lyrics just right. With a lot of the Musicology tracks, I was kind of the same way (Musciology, ICPC and Life O’ the Party were some others).

The next two songs were where I was really getting into the swing of things. I didn’t really get them before, but now that I do, I’m just chilling with them and enjoying the edge each of them have. The music is unlike anything else he’s done. I like the gritty guitar and beat of the first, but I like the rhythm and lyrics from the other song. A bit of an experimental edge that I think he could have explored a lot more. Who knows? With these songs, he probably could have extended Musicology to another disc. I don’t know where the inspiration came from, but with the tracks seguing into one another, I remembered just now that the Beatles did that in their Abbey Road album with the last 5-6 songs. Maybe he was going for the same thing.

“Dear Mr. Man” I was enjoying the lyrics and smiling cheek to cheek. I was having way too much fun. Although I was dreading the end coming, I didn’t care at this point. I just wanted to keep enjoying Prince’s company.

“Reflection,” I’d actually been thinking about for a while, but I might have been lumping it together with the Beatles song “If I fell”… still need to get that album. Anyway, “Reflection” is a highly personal track, but I just enjoyed it as if Prince were alone on stage strumming his acoustic guitar. The perfect ending to the perfect night.

There’s no way that this is going to be topped off with any more listens to the album, but I’ll see how many times I can listen through the album because I do get sick of it. I sincerely hope I don’t. I’d like to get this sort of enjoyable experience all the time, but that’s a little much to ask. Come to think of it, I don’t think Musicology had ever felt quite like this.

Maybe for tonight, it was the perfect chill-out album. 😎

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