One June 7 Prince Rogers Nelson turned 54 years young. Since his debut record “For You” in 1978, the genre defying songsmith has revolutionized pop music as we know it, delivering countless classics at an alarming rate. While his ability to churn out embedding earworms fizzled sometime in the mid-90s (ironically when he finally freed himself of the constraints of his Warner Bros. record contract) he would still go on to be a fantastic live act for years to come.
At Death and Taxes, we like so many of you have a deep fondness for the purple one, so for this post, some of our staff members have picked their own personal favorites to share for which we invite you to leave your own in the comment section.
Prince – 1999 by djarnaldo
In the ethos of the ’80s partying was a golden virtue, to be cultivated and honed. As kids growing up in the decade too young to actually party, many of us were left to observe the ritual in movies and song, and Prince’s “1999″ was sort of the ultimate culmination of what it might mean to party: partying right down to the end of days. “1999″ represented a future adulthood filled with bright lights, loud parties and crazy haircuts. In 1999 we’d really be living it up. Despite the title, the track doesn’t seem dated in the slightest. Like the best Prince songs, it’s timeless. -Alex Moore
prince – black sweat by eikichi
There are a ton of Prince songs that have made a huge difference in my life but I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about the hilariously awesome “Black Sweat” video. From his 2006 “3121,” the clip is shot in black-and-white and features several tight shots of Prince’s face giving the most alluring of glances to the camera while two models dance around him. There’s so much to love — the spacious groove, the facial perspiration, the part where he’s drinking coffee for some reason, and then there’s that sneer at the 3:00 mark (I think a friend of mine made a gif for that in college). Undoubtedly the best moment of his later career aside from his unbelievable halftime show and his live cover of “Creep.” –Doug Bleggi
“Uptown” is not particularly groundbreaking in its melody or rhythm. It’s pretty standard disco with Prince dropping some rock licks here and there atop the funky bassline. To subvert the steady four-on-the-floor beat, Prince throws in some some rolling rock drums, which wasn’t typical in the disco era. What’s most interesting about the track, though, is the political slant of the lyrics. Prince, who had recently been approached by a girl who asked if he was gay, imagines in “Uptown” a utopian world that is post-sexuality and post-racial. Prince has always been counter-cultural, but in this track he’s quite explicit about the world he would like to see. -DJ Pangburn
“When You Were Mine”
“When You Were Mine” off “Dirty Mind” is made to be listened to on repeat while stuck in L.A. traffic hating/missing your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. I know because I did exactly that for about a year straight, by the end of which I racked up enough listens to say without doubt that I’ve heard it more than almost any other Prince song. Though it never made it close to #1 (it got to #62 in Canada!) it still might be the ultimate breakup song. The melody is peppy enough to keep you from crying and the lyrics are perfect: try beating “she didn’t have the decency to change the sheets” as a visceral heartbreak image. You won’t. Though it may not be Prince’s greatest hit, there’s a reason it’s one of his most-covered. —Carmel Lobello
“Purple Rain” isn’t so much a Prince song as it is THE Prince song; the last song of the night, the album, and possibly the aural equivalent of a 9 minute long orgasm. And not one of those wanky little YouPorn ones. I’m talking the fromthebaseofyourspineallthewayuptothebackofyourneck kind of release. Three minutes in and you’re already sold on the singalong factor and by the time 3:50 rolls around… that fucking guitar solo to end all guitar solos starts up, and carries most of the next 6 minutes in some sort of insane collective makeout session with your brain. At 5:18 Prince starts to howl the closure… and there’s still 3 minutes left to go!… words don’t quite do the song justice. Especially mine right now. I’m gushing. I love this song more than some of my own family members. When 6:34 hits I’ve already lost it and am just sitting here burbling, weeping into the keyboard knowing that I will never write something like this amazing epic masterpiece. I’m sorry. I love this song. A lot. - Ned Hepburn