I feel like the heart of the 1980s – the heart of my teenage years – is slowly being ripped out by some mad pixie.
High school dances in the cafeteria were the heart of my social and romantic life. The ultimate dance would have included Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, “Modern Love”, and “China Girl”; Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”; and of course, the too-sexy Prince songs: “1999”, “Little Red Corvette,” and “Kiss”. These songs have such a groove, they still make me want to get up and dance, and it’s so disheartening to think these artists are never going to write another song quite like these again. My era is winding down; their time is over.
Prince Rogers Nelson died in his studios in Minneapolis on April 21, 2016, according to CNN. There are a million reasons to remember him and celebrate his songs, but as writers who love romance, we should take time to study him.
Prince wrote songs with really strong women, women with passion who weren’t afraid to express their sexuality. Not only was his characterization great, he could really tell a story in a short space. So I thought it would be appropriate to compile a short list of songs that might find a place in your story playlists.
“1999” – love and dancing in the face of death and destruction. “We could all die any day. But before I let that happen, I’ll dance my life away.”
“Little Red Corvette” “Baby, you’re much too fast.” A vulnerable hero and a woman who knows exactly what she wants. Plus, fast cars.
“Kiss” I’ll always remember singing the line, “Act your age, not your shoe size.” For those of you not familiar with American shoe sizes, I have rather big feet at an 8. Perfect refrain when you are facing immature mean girls. And god, the kissing is great in this song.
“Raspberry Beret” A quirky girl with quite the wardrobe. She is the heroine of her own story.
“Nothing Compares 2 U” The Sinead O’Conner version is the one I fell in love with. Perfect for the deep, dark moment of a novel, when the hero/heroine can’t eat, can’t sleep and is overcome with longing for the lost love.
“When Doves Cry” Another dark moment song. “Maybe you’re just like my mother. She’s never satisfied. Why do we scream at each other? This is what it sounds like . . . .”
“Diamonds and Pearls” “If I gave you diamonds and pearls, would you be a happy boy or a girl?” It sounds a little accusing, but is basically a declaration of eternal love, with all the bumps and warts.
“Starfish and Coffee” I discovered a cover of this song on one of my kids’ music albums (For the Kids, Too). It’s definitely worth looking up the episode of The Muppets, Tonight where Prince himself sings it. It’s a sweet and innocent song extolling the imagination. It might be good on the first slot of your playlist as a prayer to “set your mind free, baby, and maybe you’ll understand.”
Trying to understand . . . .
EDIT: Just came across this beautiful piece about what Prince and his music meant to this writer. This is how you write a requiem. http://www.mtv.com/news/2871992/prince-cant-die/?xrs=_s.tw_main Such beautiful pain, transformed into art.