I figure this’ll spark more debate and bring out those Prince.org people that once said I wasn’t a Prince fan because I didn’t think he’d put out much worth a damn between Diamonds and Pearls and Musicology. If they’ve convinced themselves that I’m wrong on that, they’ll have to take that up with whatever deity they acknowledge.
Okay, I really don’t know how many songs I’m gonna put on this, and I know I’m gonna miss about twenty. Point ’em out…that’s the fun of this.
And before I get too deep, think about this–Warner Bros. put out a boxed set in, I think, ’94, with 56 songs, and they still missed a grip, the way I see it.
25. She’s Always in My Hair
If you’ve only heard the D’Angelo cover, you’re really being cheated. On this version, you can actually understand the damn words. See, what I dig here is the simple wordplay. “Even if I hit the wrong note/she’s always in my boat…” Not complex, but says so much.
24. Erotic City
Really, how the hell was this a B-side??? And who was gettin’ this buckwild in 1984?
23. The Marrying Kind
Favorite line–“She’s gonna miss you at first/but then she’s gonna buy me things.” Shawty yay-yuh!
22. Another Lonely Christmas
I’d strongly recommend that you not drink that many banana daiquiris. I know he was depressed, but depressed and violently hungover’s a bad mix. Trust me, I know.
21. Let’s Go Crazy
How badly do you think Mick and Keith wish they had written this one? But how ill would this have been with Bill and Charlie playing the rhythms?
It’s really hard to describe this one. Just be sure, if you listen to it for the first time, to get the full five minute version on “Dirty Mind,” not that abbreviated bullshit on “The Hits.”
19. I Can’t Make U Love Me
Bonnie Raitt cover. There’s a lesson to be learned in this joint, though. Fellas, you’ll never change her mind. Ever. If she’s leaving, just hope she dropped breadcrumbs.
18. I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man
Again, gotta get the full version with the bridge after the guitar solo. “I asked her if she wanted dance/and she said all she wanted was a good man and wanted to know/if I thought I was qualified.” You know, I started meeting more and more of those folks as I got older. Hence, I don’t go to clubs no more.
17. The Beautiful Ones
Do you want him? Or do you want me? Cuz I want you–yes, you. No, not you. That’s right, you.
These days, I’m really into great vocal arrangements. Just really does it for me. Plus, is there anyone that hasn’t lived this one in one form or another? Nothin’ like an ingrate to sour you on the world.
15. Thieves in the Temple
Look for the 12″ version. About nine minutes long, I think. The key here is understanding what it’s actually about. I’ve got my theory, which I co-opted from Tayari. The 12″ version actually proves that she was right, but you can try to guess with the short version. I’d love to hear theory, if you’ve got one. I realize not everyone kills time like I do, just thinking about music all the time.
Really, I’d probably prefer to put “I Hate U” on here, but that whole “sex as punishment” thing sits funny with me. No, it doesn’t sit funny’ it’s a fuckin’ problem. And yes, I have gotten to the point where I can separate Prince’s version from Tevin Campbell’s. Gotta do that to dig this one.
13. Pop Life
“Sign O The Times” covers more ground and is written better, but man, that damn bass line on “Pop Life” is a neck jerker. Pause, Aden.
12. Let’s Work
Okay, the major criticism of the Controversy album is that it sounds too much like Dirty Mind, which is a legit criticism. It’s kinda like when the Brat (not Da Brat) called Marvin’s I Want You “Let’s Get It On (Some More).” And “Let’s Work” definitely sounds like a re-work of “Partyup,” but it’s so much better and it was the first really clear indication that Prince was becoming a monster on the bass. At that point, I believe he’d been playing the bass for all of three years. Definitely no more than five.
And this line has spawned a lot of vulgarity. “I’m gonna love you ’til you’re soft and wet/hard dick and bubble gum is all you get.” Yep, this was released in 1981.
What, you think Morris really did this? Please. This is a Prince record. Honestly, I should have it higher, but it’s technically not a Prince record.
10. Ballad of Dorothy Parker
“Her favorite song, she said, was Joni/’Help me, I think I’m fall..’/brrrring/phone rings/she say’s ‘who-‘/’-ever’s calling/can’t be as cute as you’/right then and there I knew I was through.” I’ll never write anything that good. Ever. And fuck what you heard, I’m pretty good at this writing thing.
9. Power Fantastic
That whole song–from the vocals to the flutes–was recorded in one take. Dead serious.
8. When You Were Mine
This really is a simp anthem, I have to say. Let’s put it like this–bone another man in my bed and not change the sheets if you want. I got folks that’ll bail me out of jail.
7. Do U Lie
Really, there’s no good reason I put this up this high. None. I just really like it. Maybe I respect the gangsta of using an accordion. Maybe it’s because of my notorious refusal to believe any compliment anyone gives me, which has led me to echo much of this song.
If you don’t know, there’s nothing I can tell you. There just isn’t. And yes, I’m certain outrage is coming from putting this so low.
5. How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
The B-side to 1999, which leads me to believe that’s the best A/B single ever. Better than “Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane” and “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions” and whatever else you can dig up. The only competition, IMO, is Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s “The Show/La-Di-Da-Di.”
If you’ve only heard the Alicia Keys version of “How Come…,” I feel bad for you. You can hear on Prince’s version exactly what the mood on this song is supposed to be. It’s just him in a room, tapping his feet, playing the piano with no one around. Unreal.
4. When 2 R in Love
Easily his sexiest song, which is like calling one of Jordan’s dunks his most acrobatic. Actually worked better on Lovesexy than on the record it was originally on, The Black Album.
3. Little Red Corvette
Always loved this one, but it took on a whole new resonance with me when I saw him play this accompanied only by an acoustic guitar on the “Musicology” tour. As smokin’ and vulgar as this is, it can just as easily be flipped into something tender enough to sing around a fuckin’ campfire. And write this down–without this song, “Purple Rain” never hits theaters. Is that a good or bad thing? Not sure.
2. If I Was Your Girlfriend
“If I was your one and only friend/would you run to me if somebody hurt you/even if that somebody was me?” Another one where you’ve gotta peep the full version. Put “The Hits” down!
1. When Doves Cry
See, here’s one of the interesting things about Prince. He’s actually able to get his better, more groundbreaking stuff on the radio, and he gets people to really dig those tracks. Dude, this song doesn’t have a bass line. The lyrics are bizarrely cryptic. They didn’t even give this a concert scene in “Purple Rain.” However, it is his “Billie Jean,” much like “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is the Stones’ “Hey Jude.” “Doves” and “Billie Jean” are both perfectly produced, spooky, ambiguous…and Prince and Mike managed to get us to like the songs a lot. Why? Because they’re just that dope.
I missed so many, and I’d change the order of this if I did it again after lunch. Here are a few I probably should have put on there somewhere.
Actually, no. I just listed about fifty of them, and I could have thought of fifty more. What y’all got?