Leaving Prince everywhere.


When Bad Brains proclaimed their “P.M.A.,” they meant, “Positive Mental Attitude.” Which—obviously—is a good thing to have. For me, today, P.M.A. also stands for “Prince’s Music Around.” Which—obviously—has always been a good thing to have, but right now, more than usual.

When Prince proclaimed the internet to be over, he was more than likely basing his contention on my old band’s version of his stellar song, “When You Were Mine.” I mean, it’s not stand-out lousy or anything; but if Prince ever heard it, that could easily have been the straw that broke the internet, for him.

Anyhow, I’ve loved this song ever since I first heard it. I see it (based purely on my own imagination and what I’ve read about Prince here and there, over the years; nothing more) as his casual swing at the mainstream pop that was on the charts at the time. Like, “Oh, you want some downtown new wave white guy synth-pop like the Cars and whatever? Sure—hell, I can do that with my guitar tied behind my back.” And people were all, “Oh, word?” And Prince was like, “Yeah, but I’m gonna sing it like a girl, so just enjoy it like that.”

And, of course, Prince’s “casual swing” is going to A) be better than the vast majority of songwriters’ worked-up and sweated-down efforts, and B) sound like nobody else.

It’s a similar feeling to the one I get listening to “Run, Run, Run,” from the first Sly & the Family Stone album.* I picture Sly saying, “Oh, you want some flower-power, hippie-type white folks sunny-day pop like the Mamas and the Papas and whatever? Yeah, I can do that. In general, I’d rather not—but since it’s our first time together, sure—let’s not get too heavy too quickly, baby.”

Prince, man. Too bad, too young, too soon, too much. Tip your bottle, Tipper.

* Not linking to Amazon or iTunes here; you know how to find them. Amoeba’s a great store and if you’re not into spending $21 (free shipping!) for these five all-killer, no-iller Sly/Family albums (all with sweet unreleased bonus tracks), you should take a minute to sit quietly somewhere and re-evaluate your choices in life. (“Underdog,” alone, has given me well over $21 worth of ebullient joy. The harmonies, the drumming, and that hook…!)