Anything anyone tried to do, Prince probably did better. This was true from beginning to end.
Music? Well! When he was 19, Prince played 20-something instruments on his self-produced debut full-length, and that was merely the preface to one the most prolific and thrilling discographies in the history of recorded sound. Words—mine, at least—cannot do his music justice. So little needs to be said.
And anyway, music could not tame him.
In 1984, he would branch into film with Purple Rain, a perfectly idiosyncratic musical odyssey that stands as, if not the greatest film with a non-actor musician in the lead role, than probably the most enduring. (The album and song of the same name don’t hurt, of course.) A few years after that he would once again dip his toe into film by recording the soundtrack for the 1989 film Batman. It’s far from his best album, obviously, but in the grand scheme of soundtracks it’s pretty great, and, really, few things are cooler than getting Prince to write an entire set of new music for your movie.
One of the things cooler than Prince doing your soundtrack is Prince doing your football halftime show in the pouring rain with a set piece that made his guitar look like a massive boner in silhouette.
[There was a video here]
And maybe cooler than even that is Prince doing your stupid awards show in yellow lace bodysuit with the ass removed.
Prince’s essential Princeness shone through no matter the medium, and no matter how the world—in its sensibilities or technology—changed around him. The greatest stories of all time are about Prince. The one from ?uestlove’s book is probably the most ridiculous and amazing story imaginable. Via Slate:
Prince was carrying a big briefcase in his hand, and he was acting all mysterious, like it contained the glowing substance from Pulp Fiction or something. He made like he was going to open it, then stopped, then started again. Then he walked toward me.
“Where’s your phone?”
“What?” I said.
“Yeah, right, what?” he said. “I know you have it, Ahmir. Where is it?”
I thought maybe he wanted to make a phone call. I admit now that’s not a plausible reading of the situation, but it was all so surreal. “It’s here,” I said.
He took it from me and turned it over in his hand. “Your coat is in coat check?”
“Put this with it.”
“Why? You think I’m going to record something?”
“Check the phone.”
“What about him?” I pointed at Eddie. “You’re not going to take his phone? He’ll tell everyone.”
Eddie put up his hands. “Hey, man, I don’t know what you’re talking about. My phone’s in the car.”
I put the phone in coat check. Prince was asking me. I was being asked by Prince. It was Prince who was asking me. And fine, maybe I didn’t understand any part of what was happening, but sometimes you just have to launch yourself out into the river of an evening.
When I got back, Prince had the briefcase out on the floor. He clicked the lock and opened it, and took out the strangest, most singular pair of roller skates I had ever seen. They were clear skates that lit up, and the wheels sent a multicolored spark trail into your path.
He took them out and did a big lap around the rink.
His very way of being inspired one of the most hilarious comedy sketches of a generation, in which a lip-glossed Dave Chappelle reverse-jams home a game-ending dunk—“Game. Blouses.”—and then serves some pancakes.
Prince loved the skit so much that he turned it into one of the only memorable single covers of the digital music era.
When, in 1994, Prince changed his name to a symbol he invented, he mailed journalists what has to stand as the greatest floppy disk to ever grace the Earth.
Added to my collection: 3.5" floppy given to press when Prince changed his name. Contains a font w/ one symbol in it. pic.twitter.com/mNL0eOHDGI
— Anil Dash (@anildash) June 23, 2014
There are kids, probably, who know very little about Prince’s music, but know him because he is the source some of the most ubiquitous .gifs of all time.
You could bury me with this Vine.
He was even incredible at Twitter. RIP.
PRINCE ROGERS NELSON::PASSPORT PICTURE 2/11/16 pic.twitter.com/lgdLCXQ9y2— Prince3EG (@Prince3EG) February 11, 2016