Album Five: Prince “1999”

Album Five: Prince "1999"

One of the things that sets me apart from my parents and two older sisters is that I am the only one in my family who was born and raised in Kentucky.  My parents hail from Minnesota and relocated to Kentucky two years prior to my birth, and with the exception of my middle sister, we are all still here.  Their move south did not severe their ties to the north, though.  We returned there every summer to spend a few weeks with our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes and in town.

To me, Minnesota was a kind of magical place, but to most of my peers, it was not exactly a vacation hot spot.  I am not even sure that some of them would have been able to locate it on a map.  That is, until the Purple Reign began, and Prince Rogers Nelson put Minnesota front and center.

While Prince’s first album, For You, was released in 1978, he did not show up on my radar until the release of his fifth album.  The year was 1982, but under Prince’s reign, it was 1999.  

Once upon a time, when MTV actually played music videos, a diminutive powerhouse, clothed in a sequined purple duster jacket, a black ruffled shirt, tight black pants with buttons down the legs, and high-heeled black boots, commanded the small screen.  He oozed sexuality, swagger, and showmanship, and he was backed up by an eclectic group of musicians.  Prince did not look like or sound like anyone I had ever heard.  He also happened to be from Minnesota, so, I felt a sort of kinship with him.  Thus began my love of Prince, and it began with 1999.

This album was funky and fun, and for a freshman at an all girls Catholic high school, it also was a bit scandalous.  While the first three tracks, 1999, Little Red Corvette, and Delirious were in heavy rotation on the radio and MTV, I dug deeper into the album and embraced some of the lesser known tracks.  D.M.S.R., Automatic, and Lady Cab Driver got me on feet, while Let’s Pretend We’re Married nearly got me grounded, as my mom was mortified when she heard it coming from my bedroom.

After discovering 1999, I revisited his first four albums and eagerly awaited the release of his new music.  His talents as a musician, songwriter, and composer are truly in a league of their own, and he remained true to himself throughout his lifetime.  When he died, I felt like a piece of my adolescence was now gone, too.

There will never be another Prince.  Never.  All hail His Royal Badness!

That’s another story . . .

Categories: That's Another Story

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