Of all life’s mysteries a teenage boy can’t solve, in the 1980s few were more baffling than how a dainty, falsetto-singing 5-2 guy dressed like the world’s coolest figure-skating pirate landed Vanity. And Apollonia. And Sheena Easton. And Sheila E. And Kim Basinger. Kim Basinger!
It took 30 years, but now I get it. Anybody who looks this legit doing anything, much less shredding a guitar like it’s being played by the hands of God, can get anyone:
Not only did Prince reduce a stage full of music icons into a backing band at the 2004 Rock Hall of Fame induction ceremony, he did it without for a moment looking like anything but the coolest cat on planet Earth. The song was performed in honor of George Harrison, but good luck listening to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from this point on and not remembering Prince instead, who died yesterday.
I grew up in one of those families that didn’t appreciate the ’80s all that much, and nobody symbolized the androgynous hyper-sexuality of the decade more than he did. As my 12-year-old mind worked overtime to decipher “I guess I must be dumb, ‘Cause you had a pocket full of horses, Trojan and some of them used” from “Little Red Corvette,” I rested easy knowing the first Prince song I ever heard had escaped my parents’ attention. Purple Rain didn’t escape anyone’s attention, however, but while their mortification at the vulgarity of “Darling Nikki” – which they read about in, wait for it, a magazine – may have prevented me from seeing the movie until I was 19 it only made looking masturbation up in a dictionary a top priority.
Ensuing attempts to picture a woman pleasuring herself with a periodical – in a hotel lobby – only raised more questions (come to think of it, they still do), and I was sure my parents were right about the polluting nature of this dirty little horndog. At least until “When Doves Cry” vaporized all that small-town prudish resistance. Prince was a Boss, and like a legion of backup dancers there was no point in resisting.
Last fall, fueled by Defiant Whiskey and the energy that comes from being at a beach house with no children, a spirited debate erupted with my buddy Alberto about who was the greater genius: Michael Jackson or Prince, which is like arguing about who’s hotter: Miss Universe 2014 or Miss Universe 2013 (totally Miss 2013, BTW). Still, I like to think I scored one for Team Prince, and the night ended with the makings of a brutal hangover and a vow to see him in concert, which I’d never done.
Now I never will. I’m an idiot, and in news nearly as tragic humanity lost as much brilliance and artistry as its genes can cobble together.
We at Blooperman initially set out to wow you with our knowledge of the Top Something Most Under-Appreciated Prince songs, but as much as we want everyone to experience the likes of “17 Days,” “America,” “Lonely Christmas,” “Computer Blue,” “The Cross,” “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?,” “Strange Relationship,” and “Starfish and Coffee,” it’s a fool’s errand for a couple of reasons. First, and most importantly, true to his weird-ass nature no artist was more aggressive in keeping control of copyrighted work, which means you can’t find much Prince stuff anywhere. Second, if you truly know Prince’s body of work our hats are off to you, but at upwards of 40 – 40! – albums spanning from 1978 until 2015 we admit we don’t so it would have been an incomplete list, tainted by our generational biases, at best.
So we’ll leave you with this, the greatest Super Bowl halftime show of all time, performed by the definition of a goddam rock star. Prince was human, after all, but we challenge you to accept that someone who can do this could possibly be mortal.