I’ve loved Prince’s music since I was a tiny little lad. I bought every album, tracked down every rare and elusive B-side, sought out his videos, live bootlegs and everything else I could find. And I relished every scrap of it.
I was hugely curious about the man, too, and it was frustrating that he was so shy of journalists, and had almost never consented to an interview. Sure, it added to his mystique, but that mystique only made me more curious…
In the mid-nineties, he decided that he would, after all, agree to be interviewed. Not often, and when it happened the writers rarely asked anything probing, but all the same – now I’d finally get to find out what Prince was actually like.
And I did. He was mental. He had a view of the world that was utterly his own, a mish-mash of spiritual dogma and social polemic that defied all logic and reason. He was witty, charming and self-deprecating, which I was pleased about, but he didn’t seem able to get through a single encounter with a journalist without saying something utterly ludicrous.
The man’s obviously a genius. One of a handful of all-time, unarguable greats. He’s demonstrated a capacity for reinvention and surprise like no other. And after some reflection, I came to the view that the eccentricity of his conversation, and the uniqueness of his music, came from the same place. They reflected one another.
Which means I can look at this article, published a few days back in the Guardian, and enjoy reading something as batty as:
Asked, for example, why he doesn’t appear to have aged, Prince embarks on a baroque explanation that takes in an illustration of celestial mechanics involving a candle (the sun) and a sugarcube (the Earth); DNA research; his late father’s Alzheimer’s disease; the reason he doesn’t celebrate his birthday (“If you look in the Bible there’s no birthdays”); the importance of study; God’s concept of time; and the Purple Rain tour. “Time is a mind construct,” he finally concludes, setting his candle and sugarcube aside. “It’s not real.”
Fantastic. Nutty as a fruitcake. Just how I like him. But then, a few paragraphs later:
Sometimes he seems a little too fond of boundaries. “It’s fun being in Islamic countries, to know there’s only one religion. There’s order. You wear a burqa. There’s no choice. People are happy with that.” But what about women who are unhappy about having to wearing burqas? “There are people who are unhappy with everything,” he says shruggingly. “There’s a dark side to everything.”
It’s just as eccentric, but much less endearing, and a lot harder to defend.
I guess it’s not important. In a week’s time, I’ll still head off to a farm in Kent to watch him perform – and he, for his part, will almost certainly be absolutely bloody marvelous. It’s his music that matters, after all.
And my true feelings?
If you made “Sign ‘O’ the Times”, you can say whatever the hell you like.