Well, I’ve spent the passed several days with severe back spasms. I hate it when they get extra bad because I will have many nights in a row where I won’t sleep much. Then, all of a sudden, I will have one day during which I will sleep nearly the whole day. I’m not sure why I’m in that kind of cycle, but I am. The other thing about my failed back syndrome is how I can barely walk a couple hundred feet before I am hurting. And I mean devastating pain that takes your breath way. So now, those that have know me a long time remember how much running, cycling, weight lifting & basketball playing I did. Now, I am a non-exercising gelatinous mess. Now, instead of burning the candle on both ends teaching and coaching, I am now researching rock music, which has always been my way of relaxation.
And all of this is in the middle of one of my all-time favorite rock artist’s death – Prince. I first heard his music on the radio during the winter of 1979-1980, when his song “I Wanna Be Your Lover” was a Top 15 hit. I loved the song, but when I saw him “perform” on American Bandstand, I became a fan. Someone was finally making an amalgam of all of the different genres of music I enjoyed into one party-time music. So, from his 1979 self-titled album through Controversy, his 1981 release, he remained one of my “secret artists”. But, then, as I wrote earlier, Prince release 1999, and it was all over for me. Prince was now up there in my Favorite Seven Artists, with Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., Hall & Oates and Talking Heads. Now, I was beginning to collect everything Prince. But, this was going to be worse than the normal artist, since Prince was producing other artists, writing songs for other artists, and so on.
Today, I would like to present to you my Twenty Favorite Prince Songs of the Eighties.
20. “Dance with the Devil” (1989) Unreleased. This song was pulled from the Batman soundtrack because Prince felt it was too dark for the album. He replaced it with the cheesy “Batdance”. “Dance with the Devil” is a dark song with a Hendrixian guitar solo. The title was a take on a line that the Joker spoke in the movie. Try to find this one because it is worth it.
19. “The Cross” (1987) Sign O’ the Time. This bluesy song establishes his faith in this song, which was the climatic song on the Lovesexy Tour in 1988. Once again, here is another example of Prince’s mastery of the guitar.
18. “1999” (1982) 1999. This song kicked off the whole Prince-MTV relationship, though the song needed to be released twice before it became a Top 20 hit. This song could get every college dance going at Ball State.
17. “When You Were Mine” (1980) Dirty Mind. This song was never released, but it did show Prince’s mastery of new wave/power pop genres. The song has been covered by many, but may be best known as a Cyndi Lauper song on her She’s So Unusual album.
16. “D.M.S.R./Let’s Pretend We’re Married” (1982) 1999. This is Side 2 of 1999, and these two songs were a D.J.’s dancefloor dream. The crowds love this simply because it “had a good beat and was easy to dance to.”
15. “Controversy” (1981) Controversy. Mission accomplished! Prince started a controversy with this single and album. “Am I black or am I white? Am I straight or am I gay?” With lyrics like that knew he was courting controversy.
14. “She’s Always in My Hair” (1985) B-side of “Paisley Park”. Prince is known as a prolific artist, and this masterpiece as a B-side of a single proves this claim. You know, allegedly Prince created a song a day, so there could be all kinds of gems that still have not been released. During the 1980s, Prince created some fantastic songs that were relegated to B-side status. Still, this is Prince’s greatest B-side.
13. “Alphabet Street” (1988) Lovesexy. On the surface, this song sounds as if it were a Sesame Street song. But, upon closer scrutiny, this song has more to do with oral sex and should never be played on Sesame Street. Still, it is a fun dance song.
12. “I Wanna Be Your Lover” (1979) Prince. For me, this is the song that jump-started my Prince fandom. The song was a little bit funk, a little bit rock, and a lotta bit of fun.
11. “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” (1987) Sign O’ the Times. This song begins as the ancestor of “When You Were Mine”, but does not stick to the three-minute power pop song but turns into a eight-minute psychedelic garage rock freak-out. This song would fit perfectly in a new Nuggets compilation if only Rhino Records would create a new collection.
10. “Erotic City” (1984) B-side of “Let’s Go Crazy”. Now, this song was played so much on the radio and at clubs that we could say the song was part of a double A-side. The real question about this song is “Does Prince say ‘funk’ or the f-bomb?” When you’re young, you prefer the latter. When you’re older, you kinda what the former.
9. “Purple Rain” (1984) Purple Rain. I know! How can I have the “Stairway to Heaven” of the ’80s down so low? I guess I am simply burned out on the song. Radio played the hell out of it. Consensus says it is Prince’s song. Oh well, I simply prefer eight others.
8. “The Beautiful Ones” (1984) Purple Rain. Never released as a single, this cut is probably the most emotionally powerful song on the album. I simply love to listen to this song, but does anyone else out there believe it would make a great metal song? Hey Mastodon! Or Metallica! Better yet, how about Anthrax? Someone make it happen.
7. “Kiss” (1986) Parade. Sure, this album supplemented that first crappy Prince movie, Under the Cherry Moon. Yet, this piece of stripped down funk rule the spring of ’86. What is it about Prince removing the bassline of song? He did it one other time.
6. “Let’s Go Crazy” (1984) Purple Rain. The album’s opener was a stunning anthem. From the warped televangelist opening to that Eddie Van Halen on Ritalin closing guitar solo, this song has a little something for every kind of music lover.
5. “U Got the Look” (1987) with Sheena Easton, Sign O’ the Times. Prince always seems to bring the naughty side of the women with whom he works. But this song exudes Prince’s brand of humor. C’mon, “the World Series of Love.” Hahaha!!!
4. “Raspberry Beret” (1985) Around the World in a Day. This is a funky slice of Beatlemania. It is simply brilliant.
3. “Sign O’ the Times” (1987) Sign O’ the Times. This song is the “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”/”What’s Goin’ On” of the 1980s, where Prince bemoans the societal issues of the day. Once again, this song only grew when he played it live.
2. “When Doves Cry” (1984) Purple Rain. The lead single off Prince’s masterpiece album, started and ended with a wailing guitar that sandwiched what might be Prince’s most personal lyrics every. And, this slice of funk was done without the bassline. The effect made the song much more eerie.
1. “Little Red Corvette” (1982) 1999. This is the song that launched Prince on MTV and into the Top 10. What a great song with a new look at the car as a sexual metaphor. Like many Prince songs of the 1980s, this song was both funky and totally rocked!
So much for my mourning trip through the 1980s. I hoping to put away this Purple Funk I am in. And, I hope it helps you as well.