I’m just sitting there with a cup my 2nd cup of morning afternoon-ish coffee, and I start singing this ad jingle. It just pops into my head, I’m not sure why or from which dark, cerebral crevasse of my brain. But it dawns on me that I’m full of stuff like this; full of product ads, slogans, jingles. It’s like the plastic garbage that floats adrift in our oceans, only it’s my head and the garbage is of a non-physical kind. Now and then it washes ashore and comes to mind.
I know, from that day in college when I was paying attention, that there’s no finite limit to the amount of things we can store as memories, so it’s not pushing anything else out of there. There’s no problem in that sense. Maybe the oceanic plastic metaphor isn’t the best; I can’t think of an equivalent to the seagull with a 6 pack ring around its neck, so to speak. But it’s still disturbing on some level, how we’ve bombarded ourselves and retain to some degree the residue of our commercialism lifestyle. And it’s not just something ephemeral like memory. Supposedly our bodies are riddled with preservatives from eating so much processed food that even postmortem decay is slowed to an unnatural rate. So maybe there is some way that prolonged exposure to marketing messages changes how we think too.
It’s just one of the many ways which our modern way of life in 2016 is so different from the vast majority of human history. Things have gotten pretty fucking bizarre. We didn’t evolve under these conditions; “today” is an aberration. I wonder what would happen if you plucked your average 1776 New York citizen and dropped them into present day Times Square. I think they’d just explode. I mean an actual explosion, with flames and people diving in slow motion towards the camera. We might need Mr. Clean after all.
“I think over 70% of the music we’ve worked on for Prince is yet to be released.”
-Brent Fischer, Grammy winning composer and collaborator with Prince
And that’s a LOT, seeing how Prince put out nearly 40 studio albums released during his career of as many years.
Now, I’m not going to eulogize him – others more capable have done it already since his death last week. I prefer to focus on the music, and the hope that there still may be more to come.
Recording engineer Susan Rogers was hired Prince in 1983 to work in Paisley Park, his personal recording studio in Minneapolis, MN. She explained “I want us to have everything he’s ever recorded right here,” for convenience as well as for the sake of preservation. “When I left in ’87 it was nearly full…it was just row after row after row after row of everything we did.” And that was nearly three decades ago. By her estimate, of Prince’s best “30% (of recorded music), I’ll bet the public has heard about 20% of it.”
Hans Martin-Buff, another studio engineer, helped Prince record in the 90’s and confirms the prodigious output of the man: “In the same way that most people have a conversation about their day, Prince creates music. It’s effortless for him.”
Evidence of Prince’s willingness to shelve quality material is found in the story of his legendary Black Album, his 16th studio record. Officially it has no title and is credited to no artist, as the LP and CD covers were simply black with no text. He decided it should be pulled prior to the scheduled release date in 1987. The story goes that he felt it was too dark and negative, and out of step with his spiritual feelings at the time. (Note: The Black Album was eventually released in 1994 in limited numbers and without a single or a marketing push from the label. Due to these circumstances, it is regarded as one of the most heavily bootlegged albums of all time, only adding to the artist’s aura of intrigue.)
Not to be excluded from the discussion are Princes electrifying live performances, which were also heavily documented. Alan Leeds, former head of Paisley Park Records says “[Prince] recorded every concert he ever did…so the wealth of material goes way beyond just studio recordings.” If you just know the studio hits, please try and check out some videos of Prince to see what an amazing performer he was, ripping out Hendrix-like guitar runs in between soulful vocals and tightly choreographed dance breaks, and making it look as easy as getting out of bed.
Michael Bland, who was a drummer for Prince goes on to say “There’s all sorts of music in the vault, there’s two other movies that nobody ever saw….I can’t even tell you how many songs were recorded because it happened so frequently.”
Though we can all keep our fingers crossed on the release of some amazing new music, Bland points out that there may be a benefit to keeping it under wraps: “It keeps the mystique only because the door is shut.”
If you’ve ever read anything of mine, you won’t be surprised to hear that writing isn’t my day job. I’d be more surprised that I have return readers. Anyway, at work we have several reference guides for authenticating ID’s from far and wide. I felt a few of the samples were worth sharing, so without further ado:
“Surprise!” Or maybe the photographer captured the moment she was told her sample name would be Happy H. Zzzviisagedlover.
Mr. Clean: A good guy to have on your side in a prison riot. More importantly, what do they mean by “Experimental, Full-privileged?”
“Ma’am, I’m going to need you to take off the motorcycle helmet for the – ohh.”
Organ donor: No
Chin donor: Hell Yes
Jessica Rabbit? (Young people reading this are all “wtf.”)
Tina Yothers?? (Again with an 80’s reference! #WhenHashTagsWerePoundsigns)