Nothing Will Ever Compare to Prince

PrincepurplerainLike so many others, I became obsessed with the Purple Rain soundtrack in 1984, the year of its release. I proudly hung the poster of the album cover on my wall and spun the record over and over and over again, memorizing every beat, every lyric. I was 12 years old at the time, and music tends to shape us so profoundly at that age. Today, I hear When Doves Cry and I’m instantly a preteen, standing in front of my bedroom mirror singing into a hairbrush. I Would Die 4 U comes on and once again I’m preoccupied with mimicking the hand motions that accompany the chorus (point to self, point to head, hold up four fingers …).

I was 12 years old, and as with so many things when you’re too young to do them, I was frustrated and furious that I couldn’t get in to see the R-rated Purple Rain with my friends at the local theater. I eventually saw it on cable and was mesmerized, the songs I knew by heart springing to life in a way they never had before. Prince, the man, seemed other worldly – different, creative, passionate, a little dangerous, and a lot sexual. So different. In the best possible way.

I finally saw Prince in concert in 2004, and it still stands, will likely always stand, as one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of concerts in my life. I always meant to see him again, but life got in the way. I’m thankful I had the one experience that I did, sharing a space and slice of time with Prince and thousands of other diehard fans for a night of incredible music.

David Bowie’s death hit me hard. Prince’s death hits me just as hard. All I can think is that heaven is going to have an amazing jam session tonight.

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45 RPMs: N.W.A Express Yourself

Blame it on Ice Cube… Because he says it gets funky
When you got a subject and a predacit

N.W.A’s been in the news a lot lately, thanks to the success of the movie Straight Outta Compton, their recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and reunion at Coachella over the weekend.

nwa

N.W.A

I didn’t listen to a lot of N.W.A in the 80s, but I discovered the song Express Yourself years later on the compilation album Yo! MTV Raps: A Journey Back in Rhyme. The song features Dr. Dre on the mic and samples Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band’s 1971 song Express Yourself. I instantly loved it – maybe it was the beat, the rhymes, or the fact that I was an English major and there’s very few songs that get funky with subjects and predacits.

straight outta compton

Straight Outta Compton LP

Written by Ice Cube, Express Yourself was released in 1989 as a single from N.W.A’s debut, groundbreaking album Straight Outta Compton. Although the song’s lyrics deal with free expression and radio censorship, Express Yourself is lighter sounding fare for N.W.A, which pioneered gangsta rap with Compton. It’s one of the group’s only songs not to contain profanity or violent content. Continue reading

45 RPMs: Van Halen Love Walks In

Contact is all it takes
To change your life to lose your place in time

5150

Cover of Van Halen’s 5150

As much as I loved Van Halen with David Lee Roth (1984 was an epic album as far as I was concerned), I made the transition to a Sammy Hagar-fronted Van Halen pretty smoothly. 5150 was one of my favorite albums in 1986, and I still have the copy of the record I purchased that year – impressive considering I traded most of my records, except for a select handful, for CDs in the 90s.

 

Love Walks In, one of five singles from 5150, was one of my favorites off the album. I would listen to it over and over and over again. I was 13 at the time, so even though the lyrics were a little odd (aliens pulling strings and travels across the Milky Way), I read it all as a tale of first love throwing your world upside down. And at 13, that was right up my alley. The song was a moderate success for Van Halen, reaching No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. Continue reading