Prince – Around The World In A Day (1985) (Paisley Park ~ 9 25286-1 ~ SRC Pressing)

folder

 

Prince & The Revolution – Around The World In A Day
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/96kHz | FLAC & mp3 | 300 dpi LP Artwork
904 MB (24/96) + 323 MB (16/44) + 113 MB (320) |  Direct Links | Genre: Prince | 1985
Warner Brothers / Paisley Park ~ 9 25286-1 ~ SRC Pressing

I bought this album the same week it was released with money I earned from my paper route as a ten year-old kid.  In a previous post, I described this album as a “the gateway drug” to a universe of unheard sounds that would shape my musical tastes in unexpected ways for years to come.  It may not have have been Prince’s most consistent record from start to finish, but it was a bold and unpredictable artistic statement from somebody who could have just released Purple Rain II and made everybody happy.  The critics loved to hate this album.  His fans have always known better. Continue reading

Prince and the Revolution – America b/w Girl (1985) (12″ extended single)

folder

PRINCE and the REVOLUTION – AMERICA / GIRL (12″ extended single)

Side One:  America (21:46)

Side Two: Girl (7:36)

ARC (Allied Recording Company) pressing
Matrix / Runout: 0-20389-A SHI [ARC logo] B-21968 -SHI SLM △ 10-764 1-1X
Matrix / Runout: 0-20389-A SHI [ARC logo] B-21968 -SHI SLM △ 10-764 1-1

Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; ClickRepair on “Girl” only, set to “1”; clicks and pops removed individually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled using iZotope RX 2 Advanced SRC and dithered with MBIT+ for 16-bit. Converted to FLAC in dBPoweramp.  Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

It’s almost Independence Day in the USA.  So, a twenty-one minute jam on the funkiest single from the Around the World In A Day, because why not.  Playing until the tape reel ran out, there are some fun solos from Prince and Dr. Fink, but the group had yet to incorporate the horn parts that would become part of the instrumental workout on the road, and so this is probably less interesting than it could have been.   As the tempo never varies, I’ve found this makes a good track for when you need something epic to power a good run or workout of your own (and those versions of “A Love Supreme” or “Echoes” you have your iPhone usually result in you standing still and staring off into space).   You can hear the live treatment that this song got, which was about half as long as this, on any number of high-quality bootlegs.  They mostly seem to follow the pattern in this video clip, minus the somewhat sloppy drum solo played by P.

 

03 - Label A_2Being a godless commie my own self, I always wanted to think of this song as an ironic comment on patriotism.  Given what we now know about his truly deep religious convictions (which he insisted were sincere from the beginning), I’m not entirely sure any more.  It seems possible he may in fact be implying that Jimmy failing to pledge allegiance to the flag has some causal relationship to him now living on a mushroom cloud.  Little sister, making minimum wage and living in a one-room jungle-monkey cage, may still be better off than those Reds, who most definitely didn’t have anything this fun to dance to.  Taking it all at face value, this has to be the funkiest Cold Warrior anthem you’re likely to hear, at least until James Brown released “Living In America” in December of 1985 and sang the pugilistic praises of all-night diners and black coffee.  Prince obviously drew a lot of inspiration from James, especially on this song (and especially specially on the live rendition).  Was everyone just feeling particularly red, white, and blue in 85, or was there some sinister CIA program to accelerate Perestroika by covering the globe with feverish funk celebrating capitalist freedoms?  There’s a history dissertation idea in there for some of you grad students out there, you can thank me later in your acknowledgements.

04 - Label B_2“Girl” is not my favorite B-side from Prince, but it’s certainly not terrible either, and the extended version makes the track more, um, charming.  Dig, if you will, the picture of Kraftwerk abducting Barry White, forcing him to breath through a helium tank, and ordering him to compose and perform an erotic proclamation of lust for their new record (“Please Barry, show us how you humans make with the sexy music”), and you’ll have some idea of “Girl.”  Well, except that the mechanical rhythm that chugs along underneath the track is generated by a couple low notes on a Hammond organ rather than a synth.  The spoken parts of the extended tune, which simulate one half of an intimate conversation of some kind, are Prince at his most blush-inducing.   It features the line, “”All I have to do is think about you, and I can have an orgasm.  Sounds funny, doesn’t it?  Marry me.” Just like the track Temptation from this same album, it’s stuff that’s so over the top that only he could pull it off without appearing completely silly.  Okay so maybe a little silly, but we know the man could laugh at himself, because he apparently approved of Dave Chappelle’s depiction of him dry-humping a basketball.

The extended mix also features collaborator and love-interest Susan Melvoin reciting the lyrics backwards with “boy” switched out for “girl.”  It is only just barely audible with all the other stuff going on in the mix, and so for fun I’ve isolated it for all those people who have trouble playing digital audio backwards.  This is just the right channel (where her voice is) and with EQ applied to accentuate just the voice.

 

So whether you are enjoying beers and barbecue in the Land of the Free or just enjoying yourself in one of the lesser countries of the world, here’s a little extended paisley magic for your collection.

mp3 icon   flac button

24bit

 

Prince and The Revolution – Let’s Go Crazy / Erotic City (1984) (12″-inch extended single)

folder

02 - Back_2

 Prince and The Revolution

1984 Warner Bros. Records – 9 20246-0 A

A     Let’s Go Crazy (Special Dance Mix)     7:35
B     Erotic City (“Make Love Not War Erotic City Come Alive”)    7:24

Matrix / Runout (Side A): [SRC logo] 0-20246-A-SRI I-2
Matrix / Runout (Side B): [SRC logo] 0-20246-B SR2

Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair (Let’s Go Crazy only, manually auditioned) and individually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled using iZotope RX 2 Advanced SRC and dithered with MBIT+ for 16-bit. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp.  Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

 

On days like this, I sometimes post here just to keep busy.

This is really an iconic extended single for Prince.  On the first side, you have the rousing anthem that persuaded rock fans like my brother that His Royal Badness was a force to be reckoned with, while on the flip side you had pure and nasty electro funk.

Let’s Go Crazy (Special Dance Mix)

“Let’s Go Crazy” is celebrated for good reasons. By 1984, popular songs based around guitar riffs which were also danceable were few and far between in the almost thoroughly segregated music scene of the US, yet here was a manic message of elevators and purple banana peels urging everyone to let go and shake what the good Lord gave them.  It’s Little Richard backed by Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm with a Juno synth and a Linn drum machine.  One of the many things I like about this song is a detail that is easy to forget when I haven’t heard it for a while: the way the guitar solo in the middle is mixed lower than nearly everything else going on around it.  It’s a brilliant strategy of psychological rock-warfare that must have led billions of listeners to reach for the volume knob at just the right moment.  This extended mix throws in a different pentatonic minor progression with a discordant piano plonking away and a portion of the opening spoken prologue repeated, then suddenly dropping into a groove that sounds like… Minneapolis soca?  There is some almost-Caribbean percussion going on in the left channel (Sheila, is that you?) that makes me imagine people celebrating más in their winter coats outside First Avenue.   And as he did for most of his career, Prince manages to cover all this ground while sounding completely natural rather than self-consciously eclectic, to the point where we aren’t even surprised when we flip the record over and have our minds blown by the non-album track “Erotic City.”  That’s not to say he didn’t know he was pushing all kinds of boundaries – not just by testing the limits of Reagan-era prudish hypocrisy, but musically.  We have to assume the the club owner in Purple Rain wasn’t the only person who must have told Prince, after one fashion or another, “Your music makes no sense to nobody but yourself.”  Well eventually even he “gets” it in the end.

3euOVig

03 - Label A

“Erotic City” is noteworthy for lots of things.  It is the first recorded Prince track to feature Sheila E. (unless she did in fact play the percussion on Side A but I don’t think there she is credited).  Although I have not been able to bring myself to watch it yet, she apparently brought down the house at the BET awards this past weekend in a medley that opened with ‘Housequake’ and ended with this track.  I plan to watch it, I just have to work myself up to it. I don’t “do” award shows, and plan to avoid some of the tribute material if possible, so I’m hoping to find just the clips of Eryka Badu, Bilal, and this medley if I can find them out there without having to suffer through the rest.

Erotic City

In the version that was unleashed on the world in 1984, she sings the second vocal part.  She has insisted that she is actually singing “funk” and not “fuck”.. Maybe some of the time, but I find it doubtful, and that’s definitely not what Prince is singing.  Anyway it didn’t stop the track from getting some airplay on R&B stations and becoming a legendary weapon in many a club DJ’s arsenal.  When Prince inducted Parliament-Funkadelic into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years ago, he claimed he went home and wrote this tune immediately after seeing them play a show in the early 80s.  I can believe that.  The electro bass groove drives things for well over a minute before any vocals come in.  The guitar on this song was recorded with the tape at half-speed to give it a sped-up, hyper-space sound (if you played the 45 rpm disc at 33 and 1/3, the guitar would almost sound normal).  There is additional vocal overdubbing done at half speed too, and for brief moments the mix is suddenly filled with feral, over-sexed chipmunks.  This was a favorite encore number for Prince and I’m glad to be able to share it here.  But don’t forget to visit the Fun With Vinyl blog where there are still a couple days left of Paisley June.  DJ Ritchie there has all the extended singles you will ever want, and there are lots of them, so go have a listen!

mp3 icon   flac button

24bit

password: vibes

Prince and The Revolution – Mountains & Alexa de Paris (1986 12″ extended remix)


01 - Front_2

back

 

Prince and The Revolution
Mountains 12″ extended remix
1986 Warner Brothers 0-20465

45 RPM 12-inch single

Side 1
Mountains (9:56)
Side 2
Alexa de Paris (4:56)

Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair (manually auditioned) and individually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled using iZotope RX 2 Advanced SRC and dithered with MBIT+ for 16-bit. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp.  Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.


In Matt Taibi’s eulogy for Rolling Stone magazine, he mused that maybe the world had grown too angry of a place for Prince.  After waking up to today’s news headlines from Orlando, and having done some work on this post over the last few days, I keep thinking about that and wondering if maybe he’s right.  Who is going to write celestial tunes like this one, when we need them most?

Love will conquer if u just believe


I think I can measure how important the “Parade” album was to me by the fact that it was the last of Prince’s classic back catalog hat I listened to after his death.  It’s like I had to work myself up to it.  For one thing, it ended up being a swan song for this phase of Prince’s creative arc, as he dissolved The Revolution afterwards and lost a little (but not all) of the dreamy gauze of psychedelized folk-funk that took place in that unique musical alembic.  As great as the music still to come would be, I recall being distinctly bummed out when I heard that he’d fired nearly everyone.  “Parade” also marks the introduction of more pronounced jazz influences into Prince’s music, helped along by the presence and influence of Eric Leeds and Sheila E. There’s an art-house aesthetic going on too, with the monochromatic cover art (and film, which I didn’t see for years until after the record came out)… But let me save some of this energy for a full post on the Parade album (is that a promise? Sort of, I’m notoriously bad about keeping my promises here..) and get to talking about this single.

Mountains (extended mix)

Co-written with Revolutionaries Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman, the  song “Mountains” encapsulates a lot of what I find so enchanting about the record.  For whatever reason, after the news of April 21 broke, it’s the song I wanted to hear.  “Sometimes It Snows In April” occurred to me instantly,  but it seemed almost too obvious, and anyway I wasn’t ready to hear it yet.  “Mountains” for me always embodied the warmth and transcendence that Prince & The Revolution were capable of at their best.  It’s truly one for the purple hippies out there.  Propelled by a Mu-Tron modulated bass riff and chugging rhythm guitar, it has an implied drone through it, which emerges fully with a tamboura-type sound at the three and 1/2 minute mark, after the bebop-inflected instrumental bridge.  On live bootlegs from 86, you can hear that they would often precede the song by an extended faux-Indian drone using this synth patch.  Prince plays finger cymbals on the tune.  The lyrics, which can be a little hard to make out as his falsetto gets enveloped by the sonic mountains, are cryptically mystical ‘love conquers all’ stuff.  In the music video he is seated cross-legged on a carpet in the middle of the band with a pair of maracas, wearing his bolero hat.  At this point Prince was a master of mid-tempo funk, and this tune lopes along like some sort of troop formation marching through the valleys of Neptune for an assault on the Holy Mountain or something else suitably epic.  The single immediately preceding this one from Parade was the number one smash Kiss,  and the lush soundscape here contrasts sharply with that tune’s austere minimalism.  In comparison this song did poorly on the charts, only reaching 23 on the Billboard Hot 100, and some fans blame that for an even worse chart performance of the next single,  Anotherloverholenyohead, with some arguing that the latter is a better song and should have come first.  I can see their point.  From one perspective, “Anotherlover” is perhaps a more immediately engaging song, a bit more melodically and rhythmically complex than “Mountains,” and it definitely has more dynamic tension.  In fact I always thought “Mountains” was the last single released from the record, maybe because it has a ‘coda’ kind of feel to it, like it should be at the end of a cycle (hell, it plays during the final credits of Under the Cherry Moon, so apparently they felt it worked as a coda too).

The extended version features Eric Leeds playing some saxophone solos worthy of the Parker Brothers (Charlie and Maceo), and some choice trumpet breaks by Atlanta Bliss.  A brief, fat-tone-with-the-treble-rolled-off jazz guitar solo bubbles up out of nowhere and quickly disappears.  There is some kind of wood flute piping out riffs that sound like some lost Traffic jam.  Dr. Fink gets to drop a few squalls of synth leads.  In all, this is one of the more interesting extended mixes in Prince’s catalog.  In fact,  it’s not just extended but fully remixed.  Compared to the album version, this mix is a lot more robust and dynamic.  (edit: Actually the vocals are a lot clearer on the album version, while this mix has more of everything else…)

From an unfinished book by Prince fan “madhouseman”:

After the original session on Saturday, November 30, 1985 at the Washington Avenue Warehouse in Minneapolis, some additional work was done on the track in Minneapolis and it was shelved until Friday, March 28, 1986, when it was edited for the 7-inch and 12-inch mixes for release (the 2nd released from PARADE). “Mountains, a song on the Parade album that I always loved which was Wendy and Lisa’s song, the horn parts on the album version are pretty sparse,’ remembered Eric Leeds. “There’s a couple of lines, but we did a 12-inch version of that which is my favorite 12-inch that Prince ever did. I think it’s a great, great performance, just the whole idea of the 12-inch. There’s nothing particularly heavy about the horns on that, but I just really like some very simple stuff. I just remember the whole thing, and just being a part of that was just really nice. I guess the horn parts in themselves don’t really stand out as being anything special, but it was just cool.“

The additional horns were overdubbed for the song on April 1, and more mixing and editing followed on April 6, 22, and 27th.

It was eventually released on May 7 1986 (single release) and the 12 inch was released on May 21.

On the flip side of this single is the instrumental Alexa de Paris which was not included on the album.  For anyone who lamented the absence of any extended guitar workouts on Parade, well then here’s a tune for you.   Although conditioned to expect the unexpected, I wonder how many fans anticipated an unabashed progressive rock -influenced track that sounds like it could have comfortably fit on a late-70s Genesis or Camel record.  The drumming is pretty unmistakably Sheila E., with her proto-metal kick and snare fills that are, again, a little unexpected from somebody who got their start playing jazz, jazz-funk, and salsa with Herbie Hancock, George Duke, and her dad Pete Escovedo.  Clare Fischer, whose understated string arrangements play a prominent role on the LP, apparently wrote charts for this entire song, but it sounds like they were only used for one brief section, settling in well like an extension of the band.  There’s a flashy drum solo near the end, but sorry – no break beats in this one.

Alexa de Paris

Although Alexa de Paris is a cult favorite among fans, rarely performed live,  and is great fun to listen to, I’m glad it wasn’t included on the album proper.  One of the things I really love about “Parade” is that, perhaps more than any other record in his back catalog, it sounds like it could have been recorded at any time in the last 30 years.  In 1986, it sounded to me like the kind of thing they could have put on the Voyager satellite to introduce Earth’s civilization to our extraterrestrial neighbors.  It’s an almost seamless patchwork of the past and future.  I am still unsure how Prince and his engineer Susan Rogers achieved some of the sounds on the record.  “Traditional” instruments often sound abstracted and processed, “synthetic” instruments sound organic and warm, and they achieve a real density to the sonic palette worthy of any of today’s avant-knob-twiddlers. And remember this was still being done on analog tape, before the days of non-destructive digital editing.   Okay, I guess the Linn drums are unmistakable 80s trademarks, but they are retro-cool again so that doesn’t count.  Anyway my point is that Alexa de Paris just screams mid-1980s in its aesthetic and doesn’t date as well as the Parade material.


On to more mundane things.  The impetus that prompted me to finally leave Blogger was  discovering a blog that a friend tipped me off to, Fun With Vinyl.  My friend, like many an unfortunate soul who either ran out of space or swallowed the industry propaganda of the time, sold or gave away all of his records at some point in the 1990s.  He’s been going back and finding all the extended 12″ Prince singles that he used to own.  I have a handful, but truth be told, although I’m plenty OCD about music in other ways, I have never been a completest collector of any single artist (that way, there is always more to discover!).  So, there is stuff on the Fun With Vinyl site that I don’t have and even things I’d never heard.  I was impressed by the clean look and easy functionality of the place, struck up a new online friendship with DJ Ritchie who runs the blog, and started planning my escape from the shackles of Blogger.

Apparently every June at Fun With Vinyl has been a Paisley June for years now, with special Prince-related posts, in honor of his June 7 birthday.  This year is obviously poignant, as he would have turned 58.  DJ Ritchie has decided to highlight the treasure trove of 12″ singles, which include many remixes and non-album cuts, by inviting guest bloggers to post their write-ups on individual releases.  It’s a great and fun idea, and there are lots of personal reminiscence and anecdotes from these bloggers – the kind of stuff I like.  I highly recommend you all check it out if you’re interested.

Today I’ve opted to share my own needledrop here, because it is something I enjoy doing and I have a near minty-fresh copy of this one.   I’ll probably post more of these singles from my stash, though not necessarily in the month of June, so head on over there to continue the celebration.

mp3 icon  flac button

24bit

The purple thread that wound through my life – Prince, in memoriam

The year Purple Rain came out, my family had just moved across the country, north to south.  I was nine years old.  After the seemingly unstoppable succession of hit songs from that record seemed to take over the world, I bought the cassette with my allowance money.  As soon as I had more saved up, I bought 1999 too.   In our basement, we had a blacklight and strobe light, the kind you would buy from Spencer’s Gifts.  I used to play air guitar to Purple Rain blasting from start to finish several times a week, with this low-budget stage lighting set up for ambiance.  My older brother Tony caught me doing it once and laughed himself silly.  He also gave me shit for being so into Prince.  Tony was a metalhead but also liked his fair share of pop.  Like the rest of the sane universe, we were both crazy for MJ’s “Thriller” which came out a year earlier.  But he wasn’t feeling Prince and mocked me for it, at the beginning.  Maybe it was Prince’s Elizabethan sartorial choices that put him off, but that would be ironic coming from a guy devoted to Motley Crue.  Perhaps it was the androgyny, which on the surface also seems ironic since one of the most common man-in-the-street disparagements of metal (especially glam metal) was the “the guys all look like chicks.”  Maybe the difference was that in that otherwise hyper-masculine music, the eyeliner, mascara, and hairspray were played for theatrical effect and shock value.  Prince was coming from somewhere else, maybe a whole other dimension, combining this joyful sense of mischief with an unironic seriousnes.  For my part, I hadn’t even hit puberty yet and didn’t understand half of what he was singing about, but it didn’t stop me from thinking these were the coolest sounds I’d heard anyone make.

A few years later I caught Tony listening to Sign O’ The Times in his bedroom.  He had apparently seen the light.  Nowadays, I would have rightfully ripped into him for giving me such a hard time before.  But he was my big brother.  I did say something about it, I don’t recall exactly what. All I remember about his response was that he mumbled something about Sheila E. being a great drummer and then changed the subject.  As we grew older and our tastes diverged further and further apart, Prince became one of the handful of artists we could agree on, for the short time we had left together.  I remember he bought the soundtrack to Batman before I had a chance, so I made a copy of it.  I now have his copy, and even the original cardboard “long-box” it came in, which he saved.

Those records were like bridges between people and ideas and time periods, gateway drugs to worlds of undiscovered music. In my 5th and 6th grade classes, I bonded with the only Indian kid in my school, who also lived in my neighborhood, over Prince.  Listening to tapes in his room, I think he introduced me to Midnight Star’s “No Parking On the Dance Floor” and probably some other music I’m forgetting.  I started a new school in the 7th grade and was having a hard time with it, in part because I didn’t know anybody there.  One of the only pleasant memories I have of that year was a party thrown at a rich kid’s house, who I didn’t particularly like because he used to tease me pretty bad.  I didn’t have the right kind of basketball shoes, or my clothes weren’t nice enough, or whatever.  I thought he was a preppy asshole.  But at his party – which I suspected I was invited to only because his parents made him invite everyone in our class – I remember the music being changed at some point to 1999, and actually having a friendly conversation with this kid while the song D.M.S.R. played in the background.  We had something in common, apparently.  He stopped teasing me after that night and I guess I thought of him as a bit less of an asshole, but still a preppie.

 

When “Around The World In A Day” came out, I bought it on vinyl instead of cassette, with money from my job delivering newspapers in America’s favorite contravention of child labor laws.  My mind was blown all over again.  I swear it felt like Prince had been prowling around in my cerebellum, as that album pushed the psychedelic edge of his music, already present on the last record, into new territory just as I was discovering scores of classic records from the 1960s and 70s.  I realized his guitar playing owed far more to Carlos Santana than Jimi Hendrix, to whom he was compared in a knee-jerk way when people couldn’t think of other famous black men shredding a guitar and didn’t know the name Eddie Hazel.  Prince’s 1980s output basically set the template for my musical interests for the rest of my life without my being conscious of it.  Here was a guy who played guitar like Santana, danced like James Brown, and dressed like Liberace.  It’s probably because of Prince that I was able to buy new albums by the Talking Heads, De La Soul, and the Grateful Dead all in the same year with no cognitive dissonance.  He’s why I can listen to Parliament and Joni Mitchell in the same sitting and find the space between the notes where they share a vision of being in the world.  He made me want to play and write music and learn about how to record it, and gave me that feeling that the only limit is your own imagination. Even when I decided I no longer wanted to play or write music, that feeling persisted, and I think that was the important part.

In 1996, I moved to Chicago.  One of the first women I dated there was an artist and dancer, who was completely livid when I stated that Prince was the Stevie Wonder of my generation.  She just wasn’t having it.  At that point, the Purple One’s records were in fact kind of losing my interest. But with output so prolific, there was always something worth hearing even if I didn’t rush out to get every new release (and there was so many new releases, my God).  But I believed adamantly in the analogy and still do.  We had an actual heated argument over this Prince vs Stevie Wonder thing.  I broke it off not long after, deciding she was a fool.

Live experience addendum:  I only saw him perform once, at the Uptown Theater in Chicago (an appropriately named venue).  It was one of those situations where he announced the show a week before the date and tickets sold out within minutes.  This would have been 2000 or 2001, I think, and I had trouble finding anybody to go with me.  Didn’t have a date to bring and my friends were hesitant to pay for what seemed like an expensive ticket at that time.  And it was a weeknight and people took great shows for granted there.  I’ve never been shy about going to shows or films or anything else alone, so I figured I would just resell the extra ticket on the street.  Except there were no paper tickets; in typical control-freak fashion, Prince had a plan to prevent scalping that involved having all 4000 tickets being treated as “will call” names on a list.  After proving your identity, your name was crossed off the list and you were pushed inside the theater immediately.  No leaving, no readmission. This laborious process results in a line of people snaking around the corner and extending for three blocks in the freezing cold and snow of a Chicago winter.  When I figured out that this was how things were happening,  I borrowed a cell phone from somebody in the line behind me (I didn’t own one yet) and called my friend Tim, who had only turned my ticket because he’d already seen Prince a handful of times.  I told him I was going to lose the ticket if nobody was there to claim it, and so forget about the money, just get his ass up there and let’s see this show.  I remember Tim was worried about his car having problems in the weather, and his drive from the South Side all the way to the Uptown Theater was going to be a long one, but I convinced him to try it.  Unfortunately, he didn’t arrive before I was pushed into the lobby of the theater and out of the cold, and not having a cell phone made it impossible for me to know if he was on his way, or had given up from the snow and mistrust of his old car.  I hung out in the lobby for as long as they would let me just stand around, hearing the band start a groove and missing Prince’s grand entrance while I looked out the frosted glass doors, trying to tell if my friend was driving around out there somewhere.  All these rules seemed bizarre and arbitrary, but the staff was getting kind of hostile and telling me I couldn’t “loiter,” and had to either take my seat or leave.  At that point I decided Tim must have decided he couldn’t make it and I went inside.  Turns out he was out there, trying to find a parking spot.  Sorry Tim.  It was easily one of the most scintillating live performances I’ve ever been lucky enough to witness, and my irritation at the logistics of it all melted away after the first ten minutes.  I would have liked to share the memory with someone.  I need to see if there is a bootleg of that show out there somewhere.  There are really no words left to describe it.

Prince had some periods where his music became less compelling to me, but it seemed like he was always searching, and even recently seemed like maybe he was finding what he was searching for again.  It’s really hard for me to imagine a world where he is no longer obsessively working out his artistic whims and occasionally allowing us all to share in them.  His body of work was like the loose purple thread from my favorite garment, the one you are forced to leave dangling, because to pull on it would unravel it all and leave you naked, and to cut it off would somehow be dishonest.