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Daily Record 2/14/11: The Hits/The B-Sides (disc two)-Prince (1993)

In Rich's House of Vinyl on February 14, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Spending my morning commute listening to the second disc of Prince’s 1993 three-CD The Hits/The B-Sides collection made me wonder what spending Valentine’s Day with Prince would be like. Since this particular disc contains many of the most salacious of his biggest hits (Disc one seems to contain Prince’s less racy hits, while a couple of the nastiest ones show up on the B-sides disc). I think such a day would go something like this:

Prince pulls up in his little red Corvette and, upon seeing his date, would declare that the date was one sexy M.F. who had the look that could really make him gett off.

Surprised at his bold, brazen nature, Prince’s date slaps him across the face, but this only seems to encourage him and Prince then begins to reveal just what a dirty mind he has in that raspberry beret-covered head of his.

“I would die 4 U, so just do me baby,” Prince exclaims. “You’re a peach with cream and even if I was your girlfriend, I’d still wanna be your lover! Bathe with me in the purple rain and we’ll cause a controversy that will make the pope blow his top. Because I really just want your extra time and your kiss.”

At this point Prince proclaims that he thinks he want to dance and plays an excellently minimalistic guitar solo.

Of course, an 18-song selection is just a tiny sliver of Prince’s recorded discography, so it should be clear that there are more sides to the man than simply one. (At the same time, of course, it does become apparent that probably no other artist has created such an entertaining, lyrically-complex and musically-varied suite of sex-related songs as Prince has). And, as multi-dimensionally as Prince writes and sings about sex (and, really, the guy is a genius at it), eventually even Prince takes a breather to sing songs about other topics. Like Batman, for example, though I guess the less said about “Batdance,” the better.

I think Valentine’s Day is a bit like Prince: you can distill it down to one specific set of one-dimensional consumerist images—hearts, flowers, chocolates, couples being obnoxiously lovey-dovey to each other—but it could be that there is something more complex about this holiday than most of us probably give it credit for.

When someone goes and chooses an ultimate Valentine—someone to whom you make a long-term commitment—that’s serious business. And it goes way beyond physical/sensual attraction, though this type of attraction can be the gateway into the relationship, and elements of attraction are always at play somewhere within a relationship. Once you’ve made that decision, you’ve theoretically let someone into your life at a deeper level than they’ve been at before and, if you have to turn back from that level, it’s going to be painful for both of you.

And once you’re on that road, the shiny, happy box of endless chocolates that Valentine’s Day seems to offer does run out of candy and you and your partner are left with each other and no candy. What happens then? Do the Prince songs on disc two of The Hits/The B-Sides suddenly sound hollow? Do you want to hurl the disc out the window?

Maybe. But there’s a better way. And that way is to move through those moments together and to recognize that any partnership requires work. But not just work: it requires laughter and shared experience and conversation and so, so many more things that add up to a lifetime spent together. It also requires some breathing room for each partner and an acknowledgment of each other’s differences, especially as these differences manifest themselves more clearly over time. It isn’t easy.

The thing is though, for those who make such a commitment and are able to stick to it (which, of course, isn’t always the way things turn out, for all kinds of reasons) , putting in the work is worth the effort in the long run, with the moments of doubt, sadness and anger becoming the minor chords in a song that might be just a little too gooey and sugary without these essential darker elements. If life gets messy along the way, it’s a good time to remember that there can be beauty in complexity. But of course, maybe it’s time to clean up a bit as well.

And, hey, if you ever need some new tunes, Prince is still around to write ’em for you!

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