I had the extreme pleasure of seeing Prince, two years ago at Leeds Arena. It was a gig that could have gone on all night if it weren’t for the venue’s curfew.
He told the audience “We have too many hits!” and to that end he played almost every song he has ever penned and then some he hadn’t.
Much like another departed and beloved musician Prince was a musical chameleon. He could create beautiful, moving ballads (Purple Rain, Nothing Compares 2U), upbeat, playful pop songs (Raspberry Beret, Manic Monday, I Feel for You) and songs to have sex/dance to (Kiss, Get Off).
In the days since his death I have listened to Prince and only Prince. The following songs are the ones that I just can’t get enough of.
1. I Wanna Be Your Lover
The first Prince song I truly fell in love with and the first song I listened to following his death. I’ve always loved being able to listen to a Prince song and having it transform your mood. When I Wanna Be Your Lover comes on my playlist I instantly think I’m the coolest motherfucker walking down the street. I actually take on a funkier walk, almost a strut. For me this song encapsulates the effortless amount of cool that flowed from Prince and it offers a little piece of that coolness to everyone who listens to it.
A song that opens with Prince’s high-pitched yowl that melts your heart down and sets you up for the sensual vocal undressing Prince is about to give you. It must be the first dance for so many newly weds, but I’ve always thought of it as a sad song.
Whoever the subject of the song is, they are long gone and this is Prince reliving the memories, remembering the good times, the passionate nights through rose tinted glasses. It reminds me of the post break up moments when you forget the toxic parts of your relationship and just cling to those brief moments of happiness when you believed you would adore them until the end of time. But I’m a cynic.
I’ve never been blessed with the vocal dexterity to sing a Prince song on Karaoke, but that hasn’t stopped me trying and ‘Kiss’ is my go to song. The genius behind this song is how it can make everyone in the room feel like they OWN the room*. You command the dance floor, as does everyone around you. You can dance to’ Kiss’ on your own in the living room or out in the bar with 20 other people and every time it’s an individual experience.
*When Prince sings it, not me.
It’s not technically a Prince song, although it could be argued that after he was through with it, it really was. Prince performed the Radiohead classic at Coachella in 2008.
Prince turns the once haunting refrain into a tender ballad, punctuated by finger-blistering guitar riffs. His delicate offering of this song makes you forget the teenage angst and almost brings you to tears at its blissful crescendo. Prince’s beautiful, jazz style, ‘Shoo dap da doo-ooo’ replacing Thom Yorkes original mournful wail, followed by Prince’s guitar doing what only Prince’s guitar can do.
The tears wept over this song in the days since his death must be insurmountable. It’s beautiful, heartfelt and tragic. My favourite line was always that drawn out ‘I never wanted to be your weekend lover, I only wanted to be some kind of friend’. I had lived that line so many times in those confusing murky relationships.
I choose to believe the theory that ‘Purple Rain’ is a song about cleansing. That anguish and pain felt at the start is all washed away by the time that we reach the resounding, gospel endings. Seeing the song live was like a religious experience. A crowd echoing the chants of their leader in unison, all filled with a euphoric energy that connected us all.
Prince’s death will leave another hole in my soul but thankfully, he was right, he does have too many hits. He has left us with a breadth of musical legendary to feed our broken hearts on.