Prince cleans up his act

Posted by Al Barger on July 17, 2004 12:04 AM (See all posts by Al Barger)

Says here in this AP story that Prince is cleaning up his act:

"I have a responsibility to (young fans) to perform in a manner that I would like my children to be performed in front of," he says in an interview to air Tuesday on CBS News' "The Early Show."

Prince, who has written songs such as "Gett Off," "I Wanna Be Your Lover" and "Kiss," says he's moving away from the explicitly erotic lyrics of the past.

"I just want to be the best human being I can be ... on stage and off," he says.

The AP writer missed (or more likely just didn't want to list) the really bad Prince songs, including obviously "Sexy MF," "Pussy Control," "Head," "Sister," and, most notoriously, "Darling Nikki." Good times.

Of course, Prince has been talking like this for awhile now, and apparently has dropped most or all of those songs from his live act. Fortunately, he's got enough classics in all sizes, shapes and styles that he could do a two hour show of just religious classics from the catalog if he so desired. "The Cross" would make a most excellent concert finale.

Of course, the tension or contradiction between sexual and spiritual urges has always been a major source of the Prince artistic dynamic. He came from a Seventh Day Adventist background- the same basic group from which David Koresh's Branch Davidians had splintered. Thus, I'm still puzzled that no one but me has connected the Waco standoff with "7," which was a major top 10 hit right at the time of the standoff. That would be the same 7 seals of the apocalypse that Koresh wanted time to write a book about.

That aside, he's wrestled with the angels and demons over where sex and love and God all meet or don't, including such classics as "Temptation," in which God himself comes down to declare "You have to want it for the right reasons." This involves Prince apparently literally wrestling with a death angel for his very life as punishment for his sexual immorality.

The first time I heard this song was April 1, 1985 during the last week of the Purple Rain tour -- just before the release of the Around the World in a Day album from which it came. Prince was writhing as the freaky Beefheartian sax solo wailed. It rocked my little hillbilly world for sure.

Besides "Temptation," other particularly relevant songs wrestling with the reconciliation of flesh and spirit from the Prince catalog would include "Anna Stasia," "Lovesexy," "Let's Pretend We're Married," and a personal later favorite "Dig U Better Dead."

Anyhow, seems that the religious side is controlling his soul more these days, at least publicly. He's supposedly a Jehovah's Witness, and said to be sited handing out Watchtower tracts door to door, but maybe that's just rumors.

In any case, it's interesting to see him wanting to become less sexually explicit. The whole culture could use some of it at this point. Besides, James Brown managed to be all sexy without ever saying anything that would be really bad for children to hear - not even on "Sex Machine."

Personally, though, I'd be a little more impressed with Prince's claims about "I just want to be the best human being I can be" if it weren't for hearing stories like this, from as recently as December 2003. Having your bodyguard steal some kids' camera - and then suing him - because he dared to take your picture in an airport does not strike me as exhibiting any kind of, shall we say, newfound Christian humility.

Ah well, that's our Prince.

the gayest Prince Rogers Nelson photo ever - a poster included with the original vinyl Controversy album


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