Today I learned that searching for Prince videos–the officially released MTV videos, mind you–of Prince songs on the interwebs is, much like resistance, futile.
I was watching VH1 Classic this morning because they were playing 80s videos, and “Let’s Go Crazy” came on. I stopped and enjoyed the purple goodness, and thought about what a great backing band the Revolution was. And I was going to post the song, and ruminate a little about how Prince never should’ve gotten rid of them. (I still think Prince dumping his original backing band was a mistake on par with Bruce Springsteen dumping the E Street Band. Just beyond stupid. At least the Boss saw the light, and called the best thing that ever happened to him musically back.) But, you see, it’s rather difficult to find videos of Prince songs. The closest I could find to a decent performance was a live clip from the 2013 Billboard Music Awards.
But that’s not Prince & the Revolution. That guy is just a shadow of the brilliant, sexy, charismatic interstellar explosion that was Prince in the 80s. I freely admit that I did not fully appreciate him at the time; I was too mired in my love for classic rock to comprehend what an innovative and fascinating talent Prince was. He’s still talented, but he seems more concerned with . . . well, to be honest, I don’t really know what Prince is concerned with these days.
Now, I can’t really blame him for breaking away from major label record companies, or the business of music. It is corrupt, racist, and sexist. The music industry is the last place to look for anything with any real creative vitality. When good music makes it onto a major label or radio station these days, it’s purely an accident. Prince’s tendency to sell his music himself might keep his current output out of the spotlight, but it ensures that he has full creative control and reaps maximum profit from his own work. I’m totally down with that. But Prince is also one paranoid little fucker. He keeps as much of his musical output, past and present, under lock and key as he possibly can. Again, I get it. Piracy robs the artist, not the corporations. It also means, however, that I can’t wax poetic about music I love, and include the classic version of it that I love so much. I’m not saying he doesn’t have a right to reap the rewards of his hard work. I’m just saying that he could relax a little. Why doesn’t he start his own official YouTube channel? Probably because he’s too busy hiding from the world and hoarding his talent like a creepy miser.
Maybe that’s why he got rid of the Revolution. They were talented artists in their own right, and maybe they were demanding a say in how things went down. Maybe the only way Prince can be totally happy is if he has total control of everything. The problem with having total control is that there’s no one there to tell you when the walls you’ve built up around yourself have turned into a prison.