REMEMBERING PRINCE: And My Top Five Songs of His

 

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Perhaps the most famous picture of the rock/funk legend from Minneapolis; his Purple Rain album cover. Love the bike! Image courtesy of blog.thecurrent.org

 

BACK IN 2009, I WROTE AN ARTICLE ON THE WEBSITE HubPages.com, PAYING HOMAGE AND TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL JACKSON ON THE OCCASION OF HIS UNTIMELY DEATH.

MOST UNFORTUNATELY AND TRAGICALLY, IT’S PRINCE’S TURN…

 

Spring, 1984. Santa Monica, California.

I was in the 11th grade, muddling along as a junior in high school,  though I was enjoying playing the baritone saxophone in my school’s jazz ensemble – one of my very few good memories of those days – and like more or less every other teenager very much looking forward to summer.

I was listening to KIIS-FM, the main top 40 station in the Los Angeles area at that time, on the stereo in my living room when all of a sudden a loud guitar riff came blaring from that silver thing.

“What the hell was that?!” I thought, as a keyboard got going with a distinct harmony and a voice started singing something about digging a picture of “…you and I engaged in a kiss…”

Now I knew who the singer, Prince, was all too well as I enjoyed his previous album, 1999, that he had dropped a couple of years before, me liking one song in particular (which I’ll mention in a bit).

He was already a popular star, though not quite on the level of Michael Jackson for reasons that everybody who knows anything about pop music in the 80s or who was there knows.

The song I heard on the stereo, “When Doves Cry”, and subsequent release of his album and movie Purple Rain, proceeded to do what was thought to be pretty much impossible:

Make a serious dent in Michael’s domination if not actually blow him away in the minds of music fans.

 

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Prince rocking out on stage in a scene from “Purple Rain”. Photo courtesy of funkatopia.com

 

For the next couple of years, through my first year of college, Prince induced an obsession in me; this was particularly the case after I saw Purple Rain in the theaters that summer.

Not only did I think Prince and that motorcycle of his defined cool, I thought Morris Day and his sidekick Jerome Benton, who played his rivals, were absolutely hilarious.

To the point where they nearly stole the movie.

And Apollonia, Prince’s love interest in the film, was – in a word – FINE. 

From the day I exited the theater after seeing Purple Rain, all through the 12th grade and into my first year of college, my prevailing thought regarding who I preferred in pop music was “MIchael who?”, as Prince was IT; he and his music was pretty much an obsession of mine.

Even with the flop of a movie that was Under The Cherry Moon that came out in 1986 (like so many others I felt it sucked)I bought and enjoyed the soundtrack.

Over the following years, my attention to Prince waned as my attention shifted to other artists.

I liked quite a few of his songs going forward, but as much as I admired the stand he took against his record company I felt he had gone off the deep end a little bit with changing his name to a symbol.

I never denied Prince’s musical prowess, however, as I was always impressed by his abilities on so many instruments, which he developed as a young kid; Prince was one of the few people in the pop music world where one can safely say…

“This was a real musician.”

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Presenting at the 2015 Grammys, wearing orange instead of purple. Photo courtesy of peoplestylewatch.com

 

 

So you can imagine the shock and sadness I felt, along with roughly four billion other fans, when I heard of his death at his Paisley Park compound.

I found myself listening to my Purple Rain CD and watching his videos on YouTube, getting reaquainted in a sense.

There were five songs in particular that I thought were superior, that in my opinion are his best.

Here are my top five songs from – along with Bob Dylan – one of Minnesota’s two great contributions ot not only music, but to pop culture and society in general…

 

5.  “Raspberry Beret”, from Around The World In A Day (1985)

Unfortunately, since Prince had such issues regarding his videos and music being available on the internet for free, the video to this song was too difficult for me to find.

Otherwise it would have been featured here.

4.  “Thieves In The Temple”, from Graffiti Bridge (1990)

NOTE: Sorry for the lack of a video. Techncial difficulties in trying to load it.

3.  “Take Me With U”, from Purple Rain (1984)

2.  “Little Red Corvette”, from 1999 (1982)

And my all time-favorite song from this man, which is a choice from the heart as if I went with the safe pick, “Little Red Corvette” would have been #1:

1.  “Money Don’t Matter Tonight”, from Diamonds And Pearls (1991)

 

I don’t have any purple clothing, but I made sure to wear my Minnesota Twins caps this weekend, including to my pick-up softball game, as a tribute to him and where he was from.

Like Michael, Whitney Houston, and David Bowie before him, it obviously goes without saying that Prince Rogers Nelson will be SO missed.

Which is a most obvious understatement.

I reckon there’s nothing else for me to say except this…

 

Rest In Peace, Prince. I and about four billion of your closest friends mourn you and will miss you dearly.

And give Michael, Whitney, and David our utmost regards.

 

 

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Memorials to Prince at Paisley Park, his home/studio complex. I think the rainbow was a sign from God acknowledging the man and what he meant to everyone. Photo courtesy of people.com

 

 

 

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My Three Rules of Writing

 

Expressive writing is one medium through which people process their toughts and feelings following stressful or traumatic events but the rate of emotional well-being and recovery depends on one's culture.

Expressive writing is one medium through which people process their thoughts and feelings following stressful or traumatic events but the rate of emotional well-being and recovery depends on one’s culture.  Photo courtesy of lablog101.wordpress.com

 

The guidelines I live by in this endeavor of mine, which I have been undertaking for the past eight years; hard to believe it’s been that long already…

 

1.  WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW

Quite self-explanatory, as you certainly won’t catch me writing about how to ice skate or the nuances of college-level calculus – or even high school calculus for that matter.

The stuff you’ve read on this site has been the stuff I know about because I have personal experiences in those areas.

It’s both common knowledge and on the top of the ten commandments of writing that you do exactly this.

 

2.  GET TO THE POINT

This was the first thing taught in my freshman composition class in college.

Nobody wants to read anything “wordy”, as it’s simply a drag reading something that takes thirty or more words to express when the point can be made in less than ten words.

And it saves a lot of time.

 

3.  GET IT OUT THERE

In both of my blog sites, this one and my sports fan site in which I cover the sports scene in the Los Angeles area, SoCal Sports Annals.com, I made a specific point to get my articles on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, which I have pages that the articles go on.

Like the first two rules, this is an obvious thing as you always want to get as many people to check out your stuff.

So far, for an independent fan site, SoCal Sports Annals’ Facebook and Twitter pages are doing fairly OK, with the Twitter page ( Twitter.com/SoCalSportsAnnals ) having nearly 400 followers while the Facebook page (Facebook.com/SoCalSportsAnnals) has over 110 “Likes”.

So though it could have more likes and follows, I must be doing something right.

There you have it, my personal rules of writing.

Short, sweet and to the point.

Which I’ll continue to follow as I continue to travel this road and undertake of this process.

 

WHY BASEBALL SHOULD STILL BE CONSIDERED THE NATIONAL PASTIME (Sorry, Football)

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The tools of what I consider to be the greatest game in the word. Photo courtesy of littlerockchristian.com

A LOOK AT THE CONTINUED APPEAL THAT BASEBALL HAS, IN LIGHT OF THE MAJOR LEAGUES BEGINNING THEIR SEASON

 

I know, I know…

The bulk of Americans haven’t seen baseball as relevant for quite a while, as football – the high school and college kind as well as the NFL – has been considered this nation’s top spectator sport for several decades, and especially this century.

I’ve heard all the negative comments about baseball:

“It’s too boring!”

“All they do is stand around!”

“Why should I spend so much money on a glove and a bat (true, they don’t come cheap)?”

“You make more money in the NFL and the NBA!”

“Baseball’s just too stuck in the past!”

As someone who has had a fondness of baseball and has considered it my favorite sport for four-fifths of my life, I do see the point of those who find the sport boring; I get bored anytime I watch a game, particularly a little league game, where the pitchers aren’t able to throw strikes, ten runs are scored every inning on both sides, and no one’s hit the ball.

However…

There are reasons why baseball (and softball) still holds the number one place in my heart – and this coming from a guy who loves college football and who’s been a passionate fan of the team of my alma mater, UCLA, for roughly 35 years.

Let me list some of the factors as to why baseball still matters and should continue to be called the National Pastime in my book:

1.  LONGER CAREERS

The average career of an NFL player:  Four Years.

The average career of an NBA player:  About the same as his NFL counterpart.

The average career of a Major League Baseball player:  7-10 years.

Which leads us to the reason why that is so…

2.  HEALTH AND SAFETY

The issues that NFL players have had with concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, have been well documented, as has been the tragedies of former stars such as Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and Andre Waters committing suicide due to the condition’s effects.

Simply put, baseball doesn’t have those issues as even the catcher, who experiences the most trauma of any position with foul tips and collisions, doesn’t get his head and body knocked around hundreds of times per game like a football player does.

3.  MONEY

Minimum salary of an MLB player:  $507,000

Minimum salary of an NFL player in 2015 (rookie): $435,000

This coming season it will be $450,000.

Which is still less than a rookie baseball player just up from the minors.

And in addition to that, the average salary of an NFL player – $2.11 million – is roughly half that of his Major League counterpart.

So in a nutshell…

Baseball players make more money.

 

 

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A Japanese player scoring a run in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. Photo courtesy of espn.go.com

 

4. HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Sportscaster Bob Costas put it perfectly in Ken Burns’ acclaimed documentary “Baseball” when he said,

“What is Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar)’s final point total? And what was Wilt (Chamberlin)’s when Kareem passed it? What is Walter Payton’s final yardage total? And what was Jim Brown’s when Walter passed it? 

Even the most fervent football or basketball fan doesn’t know.

But the casual baseball fan knows that 1941 was the year of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak and Ted Williams’ .406, and that 1947 was the year of Jackie Robinson…”

I’d even venture that the rabid, die-hard women’s softball fan wouldn’t know who the all-time leaders in hits, home runs,  batting average, and strikeouts are.

But the casual baseball fan knows that Pete Rose’s 4,256 hits, Ty Cobb’s .367 average, and Barry Bonds’ 762 home runs are the all-time records in those categories.

Which leads us to this final factor of why baseball should still be considered #1…

5.  THE CHARM OF THE GAME

There’s a reason why despite it’s supposed irrelevance, the number of fans attending baseball games are at an all-time high at all levels, at the college and the minor league levels as well as in “The Show”.

Largely of the history involved in it, but also because it has a charm – akin to a longtime family heirloom that has been passed down generations, or a heavy quilt that you had for most of your life that you like to wrap yourself up in on a cold night because it’s so comfortable – that football and basketball simply cannot match.

Putting it another way:

When Opening Day comes around for the MLB season, I get a good, holiday-like feeling that I don’t get for the openings of football or basketball as in those sports, they don’t do anything special to mark the occasion that baseball does.

Maybe I’m a little naive, a bit too nostalgic for the past, but…

My sentiments for baseball haven’t changed since I first followed the game in the mid-1970s.

And I don’t see it changing, even after I’m dead and cremated.

 

Dodger Stadium Cover

What former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda called “Blue Heaven On Earth” – Dodger Stadium, a place where I have been over fifty times, attending 50 Dodger games over nearly forty years. Photo courtesy of salesianalumni.com