men, music, women

Prince

The 7″ Sign O’The Times single was the first record I brought. When I heard his music, it was a radio signal from a better world than this.

I tune into it from different artists who bear his influences, directly or otherwise. He remains pivotal to me for a few reasons, and not because he could dance in heels either.

(I can’t dance unless twerking counts)

He made it ok to be weird. There was always a sense he made his own world and the music was the radio signals, sent from a world where the parties were great, people didn’t hurt each other unless they were into it and there was no difference between sex and spirit. He was a library of music, a gateway drug to jazz, blues and funk as well as a proponent of fluidity of genre and a professional discipline which meant his backing band and collaborators were honed and rehearsed to precision.

Prince made it look effortless but never hid the work involved in making it look that way. His music was a soundtrack to my life, still is and I hear his influences everywhere. People used to try and insult me by claiming he was gay but I’ve seen the audiences at his shows and there were women in throes of delight at the smallest gesture he gave. Even if he had have been, he gave out all the masculine virtues and then some.

When my grandfather died, I grieved by walking my dog Milo and listening to Sometimes It Snows In April as I wept. There was a poem here about it, but yes I found a path through the grief through his music.

My daughter broke the news to me and I cried again. The circumstances of his death were sad but they don’t tarnish the power of his presence and diminish the absence. There’s a vault of unreleased material I hope to binge on someday.

He’s never disappointed me as a musician or a human being. He never will. It’s been two years now and I want a world with him still around, but there you go.

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beauty, love, lust, music, women

Kiss

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Empty room, empty room
How am I gonna fill U?
How am I gonna fill this empty room?

Love is strong, however long
We should’ve been 4ever
How am I ever gonna fill this empty room?

Found a strand of your hair
By the bathroom window
How am I ever gonna get U off my mind?

In my bed, in my head
Every word U’ve spoken
Now how am I gonna fill this empty room?

Lonely hearts, worlds apart
Why should they be broken?
When we could be somewhere makin’ love

Love is strong, however long
We should’ve been 4ever
Baby, why did U leave me all alone?
Why’d U do it?

Barren walls, tears fall
What’s the use in cryin’?
I gotta find a way, find a way 2 fill this empty room

music, Uncategorized

Sometimes It Snows In April

He was the first record I ever brought. Sign O’The Times on 7″ vinyl. He made it okay to be yourself, to revel in the bits of you that were odd and awkward, to embrace them. Even his lesser work was interesting and to listen to him was an aural education.

When my grandfather died, I would walk the dog and listen to Sometimes It Snows In April on repeat, sobbing the grief out of me until my tears stung.

He played guitar like he invented it, danced perfectly and sang like a horny angel. He always looked fucking immaculate, he was fluid, mercurial, endlessly inventive and managed the trick of wearing whatever he chose, make up and still represented a version of masculinity that made it okay to just be you.

For an awkward teenager, he was a godsend.

I am gutted. Bowie, Glen Frey, Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood made me sad but Prince?

I grieve. I’m going to keep going with my purpose. I take comfort in that he died in his studio, where he was about his art. I’m not hysterical but I am sad that we live in a world that he isn’t still out there. He was touring with a piano and a microphone, a constantly evolving musician.

Once, I said in conversation that he won’t truly be appreciated until he was dead. To me, I always really appreciated him. Saw him live three times, each time an entirely new version of him but still making and performing a perfect curation of different genres. He is the DNA of my music tastes and I’m going to listen to him where he will always be.

If you want to listen to him right now go here

http://www.thecurrent.org/listen

Read this:

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2011/11/i-was-2-busy-listening-2-grass-grow.html

May u live 2 c the dawn. Then get up, make some art and live. He can’t do that anymore but you can.

You will.

 

 

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beauty, book reviews, books, creativity, culture, music, Uncategorized

Prince: Inside The Music and The Masks by Ronin Ro

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Synopsis:

In his three decades-long of recording, Prince has had nearly thirty albums hit the Billboard Top 100. He is the only artist since the Beatles to have a number one song, movie, and single at the same time. Prince’s trajectory―from a teenage unknown in Minneapolis to an idol and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer―has won him millions of adoring fans.

Prince is the first book to give full treatment to this 30-year career of epic proportions. Acclaimed music journalist Ronin Ro traces Prince’s rise from anonymity in the late 70s, to his catapult to stardom in the 80s, to his reemergence in the 21st century as both an artistic icon and a starmaker. Ro chronicles the music, showing how Prince and his albums helped define and inspire a generation. Along the way, Prince confronted labels, fostered other young talents, and took ownership of his music, making a profound mark on the entertainment industry and pop culture.

In this authoritative biography, Ro digs deep to reveal the man behind some of the most important music of our time

I love his music. Prince has been one of the constants in my musical appreciation since discovering him in the late eighties, early 90’s. I can wax lyrical about my favourite unreleased tracks (Shockadelica), the way that the songs with a slightly sped up vocal are often his best (Camille’s vocal on If I Was Your Girlfriend) and even which brand of guitar he uses, Telecaster, in particular the one with the leopard print plate beneath the pick up. I thought that the line up between The Revolution and Sign O’The Times was the best one.

Ro does a solid job of providing information but I can get that from anywhere, what rock biographies need to have is the dirt, the weirdness, the damage and the scars. When Prince got married and had a child, which was a strange and tragic situation, Ro does not give us context other than that he’s a private person, which if you’re anything close to a fan of Prince, you’re aware of.

What’s interesting is that Prince kind of calcified, when he isolated himself from collaborators who challenged him. His best work was with Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, who in a perfect world, could have kept with him and pushed him. His average work is superlative, but the stuff that screamed came from the period when he was working with these women and the ambient tensions within that.

Why isn’t he working with, rather than being admired by Questlove or Trent Reznor? His genius, and I would argue that it really is an expression of that, is as much a gift as a curse because it isolates him. Part of the misstep he made was when he started to chase trends rather than make them.

Those sorts of questions haunt this book, which is disciplined and put together really well, but it gets us no closer to the who of Prince. All these facts carry the same tone, and great biography gives us insight into the person behind the image. When you read The Dirt, and then go listen to Motley Crue, you feel the decadence and the earnest, playful vandalism of their lives. I listen to Prince and feel what I always have. Ro, if he had been able to write that book, might have given me something more to feel about him.

I don’t believe that Prince’s own autobiography will be any more open about why he does what he does. He really does need someone who can curate for him, introduce him to the world so that he can bring the music that is truly within him. Stephen King doesn’t publish his shopping lists so forgive me if I don’t look at everything Prince does with infantile awe because I know that not everything he does is genius, it’s always interesting but he’s produced stuff that felt like it took no more effort than it did to work out a cramp.A lot of his decisions get heralded as moves of inscrutable brilliance when really they’re affectations. Why can’t he have his work on YouTube, so that you can introduce someone to his work and then they’ll buy or download an album? Why doesn’t he have someone run his feed so that we can see him jamming with Third Eye Girl?

Frank Zappa said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and yet there are superlative books about music and musicians, that enhance the experience or cast in a new light, the artistic expressions of individuals and groups. This book is close, but it doesn’t finish the lift.

Maybe I’m just sad that I won’t ever play bass for him, I don’t know. I can totally do that two step thing where you dip the neck on the fourth beat. If you want to know Prince, listen from Dirty Mind through to Lovesexy with a candle burning. Ronin Ro works better with something that he has more access to, Have Gun Will Travel is a far better book and example of his talents than this.

My favourite Prince albums, in no particular order:

  • Parade
  • Sign O’The Times
  • Lovesexy
  • 1999

 

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men, music, sexuality

All My Dreams

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/mar/19/i-would-hide-4-u-whats-in-princes-secret-vault

It’s not an obsession, more a recognition that he’s served as a massive influence on me in terms of letting my inner freak flag fly, that I can still be sensitive, enjoy poetry and appreciate art, fashion and sensuality, be a little bit dandyish without denying or blunting the edge of my masculinity.

Also, even his worst music is interesting and his best is, much like Hendrix, so far ahead of it’s time yet clearly serving as a gumbo of different musical genres and styles.  An amazing musician and individual, I’ve gone away from his work at times but I always go back.

Genius is overrused to now mean anyone demonstrates cognitive functions above a pet rock but he is. He’s written some of the most sensual, evocative music ever and did it all in heels.

 

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