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Prince tribute

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Live liner notes by @anildash and @iammisstlc.

Notes

This is an archive of notes taken during the livestream. The content starts at the bottom and goes up, and any typos or mistakes are from trying to document the set as it happened! Enjoy.


Thank you Questlove and Anil! It was wonderful to be a part of this 5-day purple experience.

For a very emotional version of the song, you can listen to D'Angelo's tribute to P in April 2016 here:

"Always cry for love, never cry for pain.... and all good things they say, never last." Thank U, Prince. (And thank you, Questlove!)

Tonight, though, we're celebrating Prince's life, and remembering his passing four years ago today. But we're also commemorating the beautiful artistic triumphs of moments like the one that happened 35 years ago today, when he recorded "Sometimes It Snows In April", and how they still resonate for all of us all these years later.

Most deep Prince fams find it especially hard to listen to this one since April 21, 2016 because it figuratively 'snowed' in April that year when he transitioned from this plane. Also, this song is connected to the untimely and tragic passing of Christopher in Under The Cherry Moon.

An incredible extended vamp on "The Question Of U" shows us a jazzy side that perfectly complements the bluesy feel of the more famiilar album version. And from there, to what is perhaps Prince's most beloved song amongst fans: "Sometimes It Snows In April" — here in a live version with stunning vocals.

Now, a heart-rending solo piano rendition of "The Question of U". Omitting the vocals and searing guitar solo that were so distinctive in the version released on 1990's Graffiti Bridge, we instead get a sax solo from Eric Leeds, transforming the mood into something darker and more intimate.

An interesting tidbit about "When 2 R In Love" is that the video was a karaoke-esque production that displayed a black screen with generic font showcasing the lyrics. Except that a bunch of the lyrics were wrong. WB didn't want to invest much money into the production and seemingly just ran the feed through a closed captioning program that misheard some of Prince's singing.

"When 2 R In Love" was such a favorite for Prince that he featured it on The Black Album in 1988, and when that album's release was cancelled, he carried it over to Lovesexy, released later that same year.

The guitar solo on this Mazarati b-side is a standout not just because it's Prince playing on someone else's song, but because it's the rare case of his playing an acoustic guitar solo during the 80s.

Now we're going deep, with "I Guess It's All Over" — a 1986 b-side from Mazarati that secretly featured a guitar solo from Prince over its bubbling bassline.

The answer to Prince's query of "what's my name?" in the song is answered with a generic "I love you" because this track was released when he was going by a symbol. Later on when he'd perform the song after reclaiming his name, that reply was updated to "Prince!"

RIP to John Blackwell who killed the pulsating drum solos on this song with Prince for years, specifically during the very long and very successful Musicology Tour in 2004.

Prince also performed a SCORCHING version of this song at Coachella in 2008 - although the perfectionist in P didn't think the Coachella performance was as perfect as it was. Sigh.

Prince's own 1996 version of "Shhh!" boldly reclaimed the song from Tevin Campbell, whom he'd gifted the song to three years earlier. It would remain a staple of Prince's live shows for years, often being the anchor to his most scorching guitar solo of the concert.

One of the blazing-est songs ever recorded by Prince, this version appears on the The Gold Experience album, but was previously given to Tevin Campbell to release first.

SHHHHHHHHH

Now a late-career favorite: "Satisfied". Prince loved taking us back to a classic soul sound, and his aching vocals here were clearly show Prince having a hell of a lot of fun in the studio.

Minor G is the chord of pleasure It will be played eleven measures you will see fire, but you're cool as ice you lie if you say this isn't nice."

A simmering, jazzy improvisation featuring a muted trumpet acts as a beautiful introduction to the Revolution standout Power Fantastic. The song wouldn't be officially released until 1993, with the release of Prince's first greatest hits box set, but it set audiences on fire every time Prince played it live from then on.

"She Loves Me 4 Me" was considered to be a love song for Manuela - Prince's second wife who shared his religious and dietary beliefs.

After walking us through the backwards vamp of "Girl", a taste of "The Marrying Kind" and then on into "She Loves Me For Me", the lilting and romantic song released as a single head of 2001's The Rainbow Children.

You can hear some of "Boy" ("Girl" backwards) here.

The background vocals are played backwards, so when you play the entire song backwards (referred to as "Boy"), you can hear the background vocals clearly and the rest of the song takes on a trippier feel with a relaxing lounge beat.

The 1986 b-side "Girl" has always been a test of how deep a fan has fallen into Prince's catalog. It was direct about his feelings in a way that album cuts in that era of his career never were, and its extended version inverts the gender dynamic as only Prince could. Interestingly, "Girl" is one of the few song titles Prince ever reused; The Time have a track of the same name that Prince also wrote, but it is completely unrelated.

"Girl" features background vocals from Vanity and was released as the B-Side to "America" from Around The World In A Day.

For a short period of time, "Extraordinary" was slated for a Rosie Gaines solo project, but Prince decided to keep the track instead.

[Note from Anil: Miss TLC is right, The Vault was 1999!]

Originally recorded in 1992, "Extraordinary" sat in the vault until the release of the 1999 album The Vault...Old Friends 4 Sale

"Extraordinary" made its first appearance on 1996's "The Vault", a collection of unreleased tracks, but it's hardly a throwaway song. Prince was clearly proud of his vocals on this track (and on the similar "Damn U" from 1992) and would tear it down in live performance.

A quiet vocal refrain in the fade to "Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/Wife" is Prince quietly chanting "te amo" to his new bride.

And as if anyone needed any more proof that Prince was a very romantic, sensual being - he said he wrote this one in Tokyo while Mayte slept so that he could surprise her with the secret recording at their wedding reception... which occurred on Valentine's Day 1996.

Now we're on to "Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/Wife". The most straightforwardly emotionally naked song he'd written to that time, this 1996 track was composed for his wedding to Mayte Garcia and debuted at their wedding ceremony that year. Fans first heard it on the Emancipation album later that year.

"In A Spanish Villa" makes a surprise appearance. The closer to Apollonia 6's 1984 album, Prince's guitar solo makes evident his life-long love for Carlos Santana's signature sound, which Prince makes his own behind this wildly uncharacteristic production.

Sidenote -"How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore" ALSO appears in a beautiful scene in Spike Lee's Girl 6, for which Prince provided the soundtrack.

We bring things down quietly to the alternate take of the studio version of "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore", this one showing Prince exploring the phrasing he'd use in the song. This version was a highlight of the recent deluxe re-issue of 1999.

Prince repeats a mantra he was fond of sharing during concerts: "Funk is space." Funk is the space between the notes. Here, Prince lets the chords breathe, bringing the crowd to a frenzy.

Either way, Alicia and Prince were friends and Alicia told the story of how she asked for permission to cover the song on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. You can watch here:

Alicia Keys covered the song on her debut album in 2001, which is why SOME music fans thought it was her song before hearing Prince's. Sigh.

One of the most well-know Prince singalong songs, "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore" was recorded during the 1999 era in 1982 but didn't make the album and instead was used as the B-Side for the title track.

A brief instrumental piano interlude takes us to an all-time favorite crowd-pleaser: "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore?" This is a version from 2016's "Piano & a Microphone" tour, and Prince begins by nodding toward how much the crowd loves to play with him during performances of the song.

As with a number of b-sides from the mid-80s, Prince's guitar solo leads the band into an almost prog-rock style riffing on the themes of the track. It's a departure, but impressive that they can do it while still maintaining the song's mood.

Then we're on to "God", the love theme from Purple Rain. Released as the b-side to the title track from his biggest album, this instrumental version of the song is nominally intended to be a spiritual tribute, but undoubtedly sounds far more carnal here.

A beautiful series of heavily-chorused chords on the organ soothe us as Vanessa Mae's unmistakable violin bring us to "Xhalation", the first track from 2003's Xpectation, a challenging and sensuous instrumental album.

The sound effects that represent the plane landing are the epitome of camp.

Prince uncharacteristically throws in a bit of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in his vamping over the "International Lover" groove. That was unexpected.

An unheard version of this song (Take 1 Live In Studio) was recently released as part of the 1999 Deluxe package. This run through includes Morris Day and it is ABSOLUTELY worth your time. Check it out on all streaming platforms now.

[Side note from Anil: Minneapolis's regional airport clearly needs to be renamed "Prince International" in honor of this song, right? "Thank u for flying Prince International!"]

Performances of "International Lover" during Prince's 1999 Tour came complete with a bed and a belt buckle that was positioned to catch the shadow lighting just right during gyrations.

Bringing the mood back to a romantic vibe, we get a live version of "International Lover", the sexy closer to 1982's 1999 album. This is from the tour for that album, with Prince in full seduction mode. In the recent deluxe release of 1999, we got to hear Prince's original demo of the song, intended for The Time, where Prince makes clear that he was intentionally being a bit absurdly over the top. But in this 1982 live show, Prince keeps a perfectly straight face while offering up come-ons that no other man could ever pull off.

Now one of the most delicate, and heartbreaking songs Prince ever wrote: "Comeback". Written shortly after the passing of his song Amiir, the sound of Prince's voice and acoustic guitar seems like a plaintive, aching cry for how to hold onto the memory of someone who's gone. "Tears go here."

From The Truth, this is Prince's "Comeback". A sparse, introspective track recorded in 1996 and released 2 years later on the stripped-down project.

"Noon Rendezvous" was officially released by Sheila on her The Glamorous Life album, which is why Prince shouts her out at the start with 'this next song is dedicated to that lil girl over there, that Sheila E. dame..."

We hear a slowed-down version of the beat to "When Doves Cry" at a live performance in 1984, being used to anchor the live debut of a new song "Noon Rendezvous". A few months later, it would be a favorite from Sheila E.'s debut album, but here it's Prince on the vocals, and this version builds to a beautiful coda with Wendy & Lisa, and the full groove of the Revolution, chanting "sitting in this cafe, waiting for my baby" like a mesmerizing mantra.

This next song "Noon Rendezvous" was recently released on the posthumous Originals album, but that was a more professionally mixed down version. This is the live version from First Avenue in 1984.

We hear a brief snippet of the jazzy guitar interlude that originally preceded "I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man" on early configurations of the album that would eventually become 1987's Sign O' The Times.

In 1987 and 1988, Prince really began gifting his concert attendees with super intimate "aftershow" performances that would often start at 2am or later and go on til the sun came up. "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" was a popular part of his repertoire during this period.

We get a really restrained and unusually melodic saxophone solo from Eric Leeds to lift "Just My Imagination" to a new level, a fantastic counterpoint to the intense, funky horns that characterized a lot of the other jam sessions at aftershows in 1988.

Prince nodded frequently to Smokey Robinson as one of his great influences — in his earliest days, a lot of media would regularly compare the two due to Prince's use of falsetto. When introducing his final "Piano & a Microphone" tour in 2016, Prince gave a bit of a musical history of his life, and one of the first songs he offered up as an influence was "I Second That Emotion".

Another brief taste of "Kamasutra", and then we're into a calming groove from a 1987 aftershow, with Prince on the piano, backed by the full band, easing into "Just My Imagination". A deeply bluesy improvisation starts us out.

Now after breaking the groove down, we drop into the second guitar solo of the song. In the club, this was the moment where everyone in the room lost their minds. Most of us had just come from a 4+ hour Prince show preceding the aftershow, and he took us to another level in that moment.

{Sidenote from Miss TLC: This solo is so famous amongst Prince fams, that most of us can sing the whole thing note for note.]

"Joy In Repetition" is not a song - it's a gift. It it featured on the Graffiti Bridge album, and in the movie of the same name. However, it's the live versions that quite literally transport listeners to another dimension.

Now a legendary guitar performance from a man who set the bar for such things: A live version of "Joy In Repetition", from an aftershow on April 10, 2002 that both of us were lucky enough to get to be present for. Amongst fans, this solo is held in even higher esteem than his better-known solo on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" during his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

We move smoothly into "Have a Heart" from 2002's One Nite Alone, an almost-entirely-piano album. In many of the songs from One Nite Alone we can hear Prince's foot tapping on the floor or the rustle of pages turning as he reads his own handwritten lyrics. An incredibly intimate and personal album that also features a music credit we'd never see on another Prince records: the cooing of doves, credited to Paisley Park's two resident doves, Divinity and Majesty. Their soft sounds had been captured in the background during the recording of the album.

"Have A Heart" was found on a rare Prince album, One Nite Alone (Solo piano and voice by Prince). Not to be confused with the larger One Nite Alone box set, which encompassed the album if you were a member of the NPGMC.

The Kamasutra symphony was never performed live, and the full recording was only ever included as a bonus release with the 1998 box set Crystal Ball, making this release one of Prince's hardest recordings to find. The song "Cuts" from this symphony is also the only known time that the sound of scissors appears as a percussion on a Prince track.

We get to hear the entirety of the overture to the Kamasutra symphony, the only recording ever attributed to "The NPG Orchestra" — and all of it composed and arranged by Prince, with the able accompaniment of Clare Fischer, who arranged strings for Prince for decades, though the two never once met in person.

"The Plan" was released in 2 forms - once on Emancipation and once on Kamasutra, a symphony composed as a wedding gift for his soon-to-be-wife Mayte Garcia.

Now, from 1996's Emancipation, we get "The Plan" — the teaser leading into Kamasutra, the full-length orchestral album Prince would release in 1998. A symphony composed for his first wife Mayte Garcia, and featuring some of the most expansive and romantic themes he ever composed.

(Sidenote: For fans of Prince AND 90s R&B, check Color Me Badd's "How Deep" for a nod to this delicious gem from Prince.)

A long, slow, simmering intro takes us into an extremely early rendition of Crazy You — the standout from Prince's 1978 debut album For You. An incredibly rare live treat from Prince performing just months after leaving his teens.

A Revolution-era outtake that, in this early solo piano rendition, sounds almost like Prince singing to himself, it's the moody "Wednesday". Penned for Jill Jones' character in the Purple Rain film, it finally found a proper release in a studio version on the deluxe edition of Purple Rain.

"Wednesday" was supposed to be included in the movie 'Purple Rain'. There were darker undertones to some alternate storylines that were cut from the version we now know today.

Of course, we also get "pull a black box of paraphernalia on ya" in this live rendition. Which is... interesting. Lol.

This live version of "Still Would Stand All Time" was performed at Paard van Troje (The Trojan Horse) in The Hague on August 19, 1988 — one of the most legendary aftershows of the hundreds Prince performed during his career. Much bootlegged as "The Small Club show", it's a cornerstone for fans as their induction into a larger world of Prince's genius outside of anything ever found in a record store.

As most longtime Prince fams know, Prince's ad-libs and interactions with band during live performances is often comical. In this particular performance, he uses ad libs to cleverly stress the name/lyrics of the song - Still WOULD Stand All Time. He repeats it several times, even though he hears Still Will Stand All Time over and over again. He finally snaps (on beat): "who's the fool singing will? it's WOULD!".

In the Instagram comments, we welcome George Clinton, Rosario Dawson and many more guests as hear the opening notes to the live 1988 aftershow performance where Prince debuted "Still Would Stand All Time" — his greatest gospel song, and one of the most beautiful songs Prince ever released. It would see a proper release on 1990's Graffiti Bridge.

Next up is "Venus De Milo", one of the most beautiful and haunting pieces of music Prince ever composed. He rarely performed this one live, but DID bring it out during his final tour - Piano & A Microphone in Oakland.

A fan favorite in concert from even before it was released, this is "Venus De Milo", one of the rare instrumental tracks included on one of his own albums — 1986's Parade. It formed the emotional heart of many piano medleys across Prince's concerts in the three decades that followed.

One of the best slow-burn builds of any track Prince ever released, it's "8" by Madhouse, Prince's stunning jazz side project from 1987. Featuring Eric Leeds' flute soaring over an insistent, rhythmic loop that opens up to Prince on keys for a beautifully tranquil solo.

From here, we step into Prince solo on piano performing one of his favorite songs, a track he seemed to return to for comfort countless times over the years: Joni Mitchell's "A Case Of You". He'd perform it on the night he debuted Purple Rain. He'd perform it as a dedication to his then recently-passed father on his 2002 album One Nite Alone, and even include it in his set during his final tour, Piano and a Microphone.

A scorching duet on Still Waiting as early Prince muse and extraordinary vocalist Sue Ann Carwell joins the band onstage at this 1982 show.

Now a rare gem that Prince really only played on his earliest tours — "Still Waiting". You can hear his stagecraft maturing as he stretches out on vocals in a way that presaged his onstage seduction act in the decades to follow. "Take your time!" shouts the live audience in response to his begging.

Prior to "Gotta Broken Heart Again" was "Do Me, Baby" to kick things off. And now after "An Honest Man", we're onto "Still Waiting".

Tonight is slow jams, so in quick succession we hear "Gotta Broken Heart Again", live from the 2002 One Night Alone tour, and then the gorgeous acapella harmonies of "An Honest Man", from 1998's box set of unreleased material, Crystal Ball.


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