I got my first copy of Prince’s 1999 album accidentally.
See, when I was a kid, they had this brilliant sales tactic called a “record club.” So you signed up, and then if you didn’t cancel an order, they sent you the record anyway. This was a brilliant selling tactic that probably should have been illegal. But as a result, one of the albums I ended up with was weird and purple and had a penis on it.
Face it. That “1” in 1999 is a phallus. It just is. Let’s move on.
I had a bias at the time, I have to admit. I mean I was what, 14? And I didn’t like this boom-boom music. So I accepted the record, but I didn’t listen to it, for a while. I just didn’t. Until, one day, I did. I think it’s because “Delirious” was on the radio. I got it out and listened to it.
And this song came on.
It was called “Lady Cab Driver.”
There is a drum beat, and Prince calling for a taxi. Funky guitar and bass. Then Prince regaling the “lady cab driver” and engaging her in light conversation but then begging her for relief via escape.
Then there are the clock-chimes and the water-blow noises. And the part where he’s f*ing that broad and giving her the what-for.
And what’s with that flute-synth sound ?
And then the traffic noises continue and we fade into “All The Critics Love You In New York”
was instantly a Prince fan
and I always will be
U no what I’m talkin’ about.
The eighth performance in the film Sign O’ The Times is a drum solo by Sheila E. The “E” stands for “Escavedo.” Her father is Pete Escovedo, a renowned percussionist in his own right. Tito Puente was her godfather, and she is also auntie to a young lady you may have heard of called “Nicole Ritchie.” Sheila was romantically involved with Prince at one time and, I was stunned to learn, was also in a thing at one time with Carlos Santana. Yeah.
Her album, “In The Glamorous Life” was always one of my very favorite Prince albums.
But there is a moment in the middle of her drum solo I think about often, because it shows her to be one of the most terrifying drummers out there. During the solo, Sheila gets rid of her sticks and starts beating the cymbals with her hands.
I have never seen another drummer do this. To my knowledge, Mick Fleetwood never did this, nor did John Bonham, nor even Stumpy Joe Childs. This is a move it took a girl drummer to do. She is the fiercest drummer ever and don’t ever forget it.
Prince didn’t merely record albums. He forged worlds. And for a while, one could look forward to entering one of these worlds pretty much annually. I’ve spent a good amount of time at Paisley Park (it’s in your heart), and at Christopher Tracy’s Parade. I’ve been talking stuff in the Violent Room, and I have kept Vicky waiting. I was of the New Power Generation and wanted to change the world.
And, I have most certainly spent a lot of time experiencing a religious epiphany known as “Lovesexy.”
It was three years ago on a Thursday. I had taken April 22 off of work to drive to my Grandma’s house for her birthday with my Dad. I had taken a break to peek at my phone, and there were reports of a body found in Chanhassen. Later reports confirmed the body belonged to Prince. He had been found slumped over in an elevator, which I immediately found to have been horribly poetic.
Punch a higher floor.
Strangely, that weekend, I had to explain Prince to my 92-year-old grandmother. To explain to her how widely admired was the Dude Extraordinaire, I broke out the big comparison. What was it like, I asked her, when you lost Glenn Miller?
I watched Purple Rain every night for a week once I returned. I have since re-written it in my head because it is not a good movie. I have also since purchased and digested Art Official Age, PlectrumElectrum, and Hit and Run Phases One and Two. These, his last released works, would all sit comfortably next to anything he had ever done; they are that good, which I find to be the largest shame of his end. I think he was ready to unleash at least another decade’s worth of music on us.