Commentary: Prince 1958-2016

By penner - http://flickr.com/photos/penner/2450784866, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4271027
Prince at Coachella in 2008 – Photo by penner – http://flickr.com/photos/penner/2450784866, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4271027


I guess I should of known
By the way you parked your car sideways
That it wouldn't last
See you're the kinda person
That believes in makin' out once
Love 'em and leave 'em fast

This was the first few lines of a classic song written by a multi-talented musical genius that we lost earlier today. He wrote about wanting to make love to a wonderful woman inside of a "Little Red Corvette."

It is obvious that I would be talking about Prince Rogers Nelson. The rock/funk/soul/electric/New Wave artist we commonly refer to as Prince.

He was born in Minneapolis. Lived in North Minneapolis, not far from V&R's current headquarters, born to a musical family – his father was a pianist; his mother a singer. At Minneapolis Central High School, he became friends with some of the key players that made up the Minneapolis Sound – Andre Cymone, Morris Day, Jimmy Jam…and so forth.

From that point, he became one of the hardest working musicians around. He remained mostly in Minnesota, choosing his Paisley Park studio in Chanhassen as his refuge – up the street from AutoMotorPlex, where MN C&C is held from April to October.

As an automotive blog, it seems appropriate to pay tribute to someone who sang about trying to make out with a woman inside of a "Little Red Corvette." This was the same person who rode around town in a Honda CB400A, carrying Apollonia Kotero on the back of it in Purple Rain. There is indeed a tie-in with the mobility world to him.

Just like most people, I have stories about Prince. Unlike most people, mine started back in my hometown, Reseda. It was there where I first heard of him. "I Wanna Be Your Lover" was the first track I heard. It was funky, edgy and brash. It was not disco nor Prog Rock. It was a fresh sound that needed to be captured. It made sense that it would sound so good on anyone's radio.

When the "Controversy" album came out, I really wanted to see this guy. Prince was packaged on a stadium tour with the Rolling Stones and they made their way to the Los Angeles Coliseum. I talked to a few friends afterwards and they told me that he got booed. Why, because they wanted Mick Jagger instead? I will content some 35 years later – they booed the wrong act.

That was when "1999" came out. Prince was elevated to legendary status with this album. It would be one of those albums I would pop into the cassette player and play both sides on. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best albums recorded in my lifetime. Even today, at least one track from this album will find their way in my travels. This is the album that features "Little Red Corvette."

Which brings me to "Purple Rain." Or, rather, Purple Rain. You know you're a fan when you attend the first night of a movie featuring your favorite actor or artist. In Prince's case – I was that fan. And, yes, I attended that first night of his movie in North Hollywood. Many movies have superseded it as my favorite, however. It was a great story and Prince showed his performing chops quite well…along with Day, The Time, The Revolution and the rest of the cast.

For me, that was it. "Sign O' The Times" had a few tracks I liked, but that was it. Yet, Prince would become more than just a hit maker. He fought for artist's rights of ownership of their work. His work ethic symbolized what it meant to be an artist. He continued to work all the way to the day he died – at the young age of 57.

We could get into some criticisms of Prince, but it would not appropriate to do so. I have a few, but I would rather keep them off of your bandwidth out of respect of his fans and associates.

The one thing I will take from this are two positive tenets of his work through his career. One, you have to have a big creative toolkit. In Prince's case, it was his musicianship. This includes his ability to play every instrument possible in order to get the right sound to complete his songwriting. His songs stand the test of time, and to take in account his vault of 3,000 songs that has never seen the light of day at Paisley Park.

Secondly, you have to be versatile in your creativity. This goes back to his musicianship and how much he wants to play. Turn on any given radio station today, and there will be a story or several where he asked to play with another group. One such story focused on the R&B group Mint Condition. Yes, Prince sat in on Mint Condition. As his song was recorded by Sinead O'Connor. As he inducted Parliament-Funkadelic into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame.

Today…or sometime in the next few days…turn on your radio, plug in, or connect your mobile device. Play a Prince tune – any Prince song will do. Let it take you where you want to go.

R.I.P. Prince.

Lyrics courtesy of Universal Music Publishing Group

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