Okay, yes, I agree! This is getting a bit obsessive. And, you are correct! But, then again, that’s me…obsessive, or hyper-focused, or whatever you want to call it. Still, I feel like I need to give a nod to the music Prince has made over the past 16 years. Although Prince has released only a handful, in his own prolific standard, of albums. Still, at the beginning of the century, Prince was releasing several albums worth of music directly to his fan club.
Much has happened in the Prince world in these past 20 years or so. First, while still in the 1990s, Prince got married, and he and his wife had a baby boy. Sadly, the baby was born with a congenital condition that took the baby’s life within the days of his birth. A few years later, Prince and his wife, Mayte, were divorced.
Now, while in the 1990s, Prince reached out to several of his musical heroes who were down on their luck. He even signed Parliament/Funkadelic leader George Clinton, as well as gospel/soul singer Mavis Staples of the Staple Singers. Prince even reached out to former Sly & the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham. It is this latter development that led to a major change to Prince’s spiritual life.
While growing up, Prince was raised as a Seventh-Day Adventist. Now, obviously, he made his living in the Eighties and Nineties playing up the juxtaposition of sexual freedom with spiritual freedom. Then, Larry Graham, a devout Jehovah’s Witness, began to influence Prince. Long story short, Prince was convinced over a year’s worth of time, Prince became convinced that he would convert. From that point on, Prince toned down the cursing and the sexual content. But, since Graham came into Prince’s life, Prince’s PG-13 version of his music went into high gear. So much so that Prince had released two albums in 2014 and two more in 2015. He was rejuvenated by a great new band of three female musicians. The group is known as 3RDEYEGIRL, and they are a hot power trio type of band. The last album, called HIT n RUN Phase Two, is easily the best album of this century. Which was a shame that we will not get to see in what musical directions he would go with and without the new band. But, at least, he left us on high note musically.
Today, I present to you my 15 favorite Prince songs of the 21st Century.
15. “We Do This Alone” [Feat. George Clinton] (2002) One Nite Alone…The Aftershow: It Ain’t Over. This is proof of what happens when two funk giants collide.
14. “Crimson and Clover” (2009) LotUSFLOW3R. Most people probably would not choose this song. The old Tommy James & the Shondells hit has been cover by everyone, including that great cover by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts back in the early days. Still, to hear this psychedelic bubblegum standard from the 60s getting the Purple touch is magic in itself.
13. “(There’ll Never) Be Another like Me” (2009) MPLSOUND. This album was released together with the album of #14, but he different sounds. This CD was more on the rock, Santana/Hendrix influenced Prince, and he was rarely better than on this song.
12. “Black Sweat” (2006) 3121. Prince had a little run between 2004 and 2007 during which he released three excellent albums. “Black Sweat” comes from the middle album and is a slice of pure funk that Prince had conquered in the Nineties but brought back for this great single.
11. “Plectrumelectrum” by Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL (2014) Plectrumelectrum. This was the easily the best song on this album. If you need proof, go watch the Chris Rock-hosted SNL show in 2014 in which the band performs the show and try to convince me that this band could not have developed into a hot metal band.
10. “Free Urself” (2015) single. If four albums were not enough, Prince even released several singles that could not be fit onto any of these albums. This song is proof that Prince was hitting a late-career peak.
9. “Clouds” (2014) Art Official Age. Yes, this too was played on SNL. It is a great pop ballad, with a nice slow groove. This is an example of Prince showing The Weeknd how its really done.
8. “Screwdriver” (2015) HIT n RUN Phase 2. Originally, this song was released as a single in 2014. This is a great Prince double entendre in the lyrical vein of “Little Red Corvette”. Just a fun song that’s got a good beat and its easy to dance to.
7. “FunkNRoll” by Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL (2014) Plectrumelectrum. Just as the title says, this song is something that you would be happy to hear the Red Hot Chili Peppers do. Actually, there are two different versions: this one and one on Prince’s Art Official Age, where Prince played all of the instruments. 3RDEYEGIRL makes this version ROCK!
6. “Baltimore” (2015) HIT n RUN Phase 2. Originally, Prince released this song to help the city of Baltimore heal after the racial unrest of the death of a young man while in the hands of the city’s police. Prince has actually released several protest songs, but they are rare. But when Prince talks, people listen.
5. “FallinLove2nite” with Zooey Deschanel (2014) single. This is the fun version that was performed on the episode of New Girl where Prince sings the song with Zooey’s character. There is another version of this song on Art Official Age, but it misses something without Zooey’s vocals.
4. “Hardrocklover” (2014) HIT n RUN Phase 1. This song is a funk-rock jam that is chock-full of hooks.
3. “If Eye Could Get Ur Attention” (2015) single. This is the last single that Prince released during his lifetime, and it is a brilliant piece of Prince pop. A side-note: Prince was close friends with msnbc newscaster and Today show substitute Tamron Hall, whose image is on the cover of the single.
2. “Guitar” (2007) Planet Earth. What do you think this song is like by its title? You bet! It’s a Prince guitar-shredding song that rocks without forgetting the funk.
1. “Fury” (2006) 3121. Once again, Prince was telling us directly what this song was about…fury! And, the whole song, lyrics and music, stick to the theme. This is another song that the Chili Peppers should cover, since its everything they stand for: rock AND funk.
All of this is helping me get through this loss. Now, I would be much worse if I had lost a family member. But, in many ways, Prince seemed like a family member since I started becoming obsessed with his music in 1980. His tunes have carried me through the last couple of years of high school, through college and med tech school, into my thirties, forties and, now, my fifties. God bless you Prince. God bless you my friends! And, especially, God bless my family!