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Thread started 04/22/17 8:14pm

fourletterword
s

Prince's Underrated Intellectualism as a Popular Artist

Hi, I am a long-time lurker that finally took the plunge to join the Org. The discussions on the forums here have truly been a phenomenal way to celebrate Prince after losing my two favorite musical artists (the other being Bowie) in the space of a few months. I thank you all for that. Over the past year, I have continually revisited what I believe is Prince's status as an intellectual artist on par with the likes of Bowie, Lou Reed and Dylan - who are oft considered the rock intelligencia

Certainly the music press and mainstream media's primary focus has consistently been placed on Prince's musical prowess, showmanship, physicality and the gender/sexuality politics that defined his early image. Personally, from the vantage point of my fan-ship, these fairly obvious traits are only one part of what makes Prince an artist par excellence - whose work justifies continual, close study.

During his rather candid interview with Tavis Smiley, in 2009, Prince remarked at ome point on the crucial importance of creating one's "own universe", which he explained in the context of creating a coping mechanism for early childhood traumas and how, by extension, this informed his art.

Fulfilling such a need appears to me to be THE common thread running through his work from (at least) Dirty Mind forward - obvious early examples being "Uptown", "Partyup" and "Controverzy". Prince's late 70s/Early 80s work shows a stylistic affinity toward punk (rarely revisited visually or audibly), which was a genre characterized by the creation of a cloistered scene or universe that rejected generally accepted social mores.

"Around the world in a day" which Prince at one point called his "favorite" in a Detroit radio interview in 1986 once again returned (and, in fact, doubled down) on the notion of a complete conceptual piece, rather than a collection of thematically linked songs, even more overtly discusses the creation of an altermate reality and suspension of notions of place, space and time as a means to escape and/or create a new community. Prince's Utopian vision is a well developed concept that rivals Ziggy Stardust, Blood on the Tracks/Dylan's "themed" Albums and many other works in the rock lexicon that are more praised but less coherent. The conscious decision to set UTCM/Parade in the south of France to literally, geographically "escape" the confines of the MLPS associations of Purple Rain lore (and the death of his character im film/song) was tantamount to Bowie killing off Ziggy Stardust by retiring in concert and soon after changing his visual and musical aesthetic, but with more subtlety and musical nuance.

Lyrically, songs like Anna Stesia, Joy in Repetition, Sign O' the times, Dorothy Parker, etc. show a facility with language, wordplay, alliteration, usage of internal rhyme and other lyrical/literary devices employed with prescisiom and clarity.

Rarely are Prince's more adventurous song lyrics clunky or verbose, a flaw that inhibits more celebrated song writers.

The album that personally drew me into the Prince universe was Emancipation, specifically the songs: New World, The Love We make, Dreamin' about you, Slave, Saviour and In this bed I scream. While the sound and "90s" production of this record caused a good deal of criticism on the Org and elsewhere, it's value as a piece of art in the Prince ouvre is that it is, perhaps, his most elaborate effort to create his own "universe", this time a settled domestic one, content with a wife and free of alleged contractual inhibitions at the hands of WB, complete with overt references to a New Age/alternative spiritual life philosophy that is artfully weaved throughout.

Skipping the JW conversion covered widely here and the 2000s comeback records,
AOA appears to have gained significant credit in hindsight as to its Thematic cohesion, RETURN to pre-JW inclusive spirituality and openness and Prince's grafting of his own work and influence On a drastically changing musical and technological landscape. A feeling of not belonging and a yearning for long-gone simplicity seems to pervade the album.

Forgive my lengthy post. It is the culmination of years of forum lurking and a year of mourning a great artist who profoundly touched my life.

Thus, my questions to you - has Primce been underrated as an intellectual artist/songwriter? (Absolutely)


What, in your estimation, is Prince's most successful intellectual work? (Parade/Lovesexy-tie for me)

Peace
[Edited 4/22/17 20:22pm]
[Edited 4/22/17 20:28pm]
[Edited 4/22/17 20:52pm]
[Edited 4/22/17 20:55pm]
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Reply #1 posted 04/22/17 8:51pm

laytonian

.
I agree.
Especially considering that Prince was self-educated, not having a formal education being high school. He was described as a good student who didn't have to study much and I read one account that he fulfilled his credits early.
All that while playing music and starring bands.
.
He truly was a genius, absorbing life. I'm listening to SOTT right now.
Just stunning in every respect.
.
That big ol head of his held a lot of brains.
.
Of all the books in Paisley, no one's ever mentioned a thesaurus or dictionary...
.
Welcome to "the org", laytonian… come bathe with me.
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Reply #2 posted 04/22/17 9:00pm

fourletterword
s

That is Another great point. He was basically self educated (similar to Bowie and Dylan in that respect as well)...

This past year I have read a few articles about Prince setting up meetings with his favorite writers and, despite the related controversy, he was deemed extremely knowledgeable in scripture by others "in the know", making veiled reference to bible quotes in lyrics long before he officially converted.

Another reason why any draft of his "memoir" would be utterly fascinating for all of us...
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Reply #3 posted 04/23/17 12:16am

NorthC

Oh yeah. One of the reasons I like Prince so much is that he created a world of his own with his music. Just like Dylan, as you mention.(And Frank Zappa and George Clinton.) Although I wouldn't call Prince an intellectual. More an idealist.
Don't ever lose your dreams.
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Reply #4 posted 04/23/17 12:33am

rob1965

avatar

To me, Prince was an idealist and an intellectual. However the latter came with his growing as an artist (i.e. as a person). Funny thing is, that to me he often was a somewhat naive intellectual. That's actually like a contradictio-in-terminus, and maybe that's the most fitting description of someone like P: an incarnated contradictio-in-terminus.

He created his own world, like other artists. He had a social opinion which blossomed on SOTT.
'Liberate My Mind'
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Reply #5 posted 04/23/17 5:53am

mediumdry

Interesting question. To me, Prince is a brilliant composer and instrumentalist and singer. He certainly has a way with words, but one thing I have never seen him as is as in intellectual.

.

He was spiritual and sexual, but when it came to thinking and logical deduction, he missed the mark most of the time. I am not calling him dumb, but he was prone to stay stuck in mysticism and new age babble. Ideas like those expressed in Ronnie Talk To Russia and America are way oversimplified (and in my mind plainly wrong) and in Sign Of The Times he even subscribes to the foolish notion that "reefer" is a gateway drug to heroin. (within 9 months, no less)

.

He tried hard to appear "deep", but it mostly came out as chemtrails and other conspiracy thinking. The most profound he ever got, in my opinion, is in The Grand Progression, when he questions the existence of god. He never seemed to question his "truths".

.

Later on, things got worse of course: "is it better to be leader or a follower?" and other such false dichotomies. The further in his career, the less open his thinking seemed to be. He'd rather appear deep than actually think critically. So to me, while I admire him for many traits, he is not an intellectual and he actually is anti-intellectual as he urges people to stop thinking critically and look towards mysticism for received wisdom.

.

<edit for formatting>

[Edited 4/23/17 5:55am]

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Reply #6 posted 04/23/17 7:41am

fourletterword
s

Wow, cool. I really appreciate the responses on this sort of "out there" question that night actually be 2-3 different questions masquerading as one...

You guys are probably right that "intellectual" is the wrong term to use to describe his approach, as he was clearly impressionable ... for me, the 1999-2006 (??) JW period was a direct sort of response to his late 1990s personal trials, if the various biographies are to be believed. I kind of avoided that era in my post, since the underlying concepts seem so severely subject to outside influence.

Perhaps unlike a Bowie or Dylan (intellectuals) P is more akin to a Cat stevens, spiritual searcher, kind of didactic, unafraid to swim in controversial waters... I do think it was not lost on Prince just how controversial his particular conversion to orthodox religion appeared to fans of earlier eras. Did he take some perverse pleasure in the related fall-out?

I kind of liken this period to anyone who has suffered personal issues of some magnitude seeking out an orthodox form of religion to cleanse/repent. P appeared to be way too complex an individual to find total solace in this way. Hence, I feel the searching began to Creep back in the time period approaching AOA... it certainly seemed like a fresh era, somewhat heartening back to earlier years..

The consenus seems to be that SOTT was the culmination of what I described in my post as universe shaping...

Thanks y'all
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Reply #7 posted 04/23/17 8:02am

jayseajay

This is an interesting question. What I will say, I think Prince was very very bright, and I also think he was extremely intellectually curious, a real seeker, who, for most of his life, had an open mind and a hunger for new ideas (this may have changed in the few years immediately following his conversion, but tbh, it didn't really take in the long term). That said, I don't think he was an intellectual...because being an intellectual, like being a musician, is not just a matter of disposition, but of training...and you can give that training to yourself, just as P trained himself to be a musician, but that's not something P did. Lyrically, there are some amazing flashes of brilliance, but in general, I don't think his lyrics are always fully reflective of his intellect, although he can turn a phenomenal line. And, unlike the person above, I don't think there is any necessary contradiction between P's mystical tendencies and his intelligence...some people might like to dismiss new age foof or whatever as anti-intellectual, but that's a prejudice of our scientistic age...many of the greatest thinkers of history were religious thinkers, and religious thought can be way more complex and subtle than most non-believers give it credit for.

Not like I love my guitar....
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Reply #8 posted 04/23/17 8:24am

NorthC

I agree with Jay. The fact that you're not an intelectual doesn't mean you're not intelligent. I don't think there's anything wrong with mysticism, whether it's Christian, Buddhist, shamanistic... It's just a different way of thinking that can be very enlightening.
One thing that does dissapoint me (and here mediumdry has a point) is that Prince didn't really develop his worldview or his way of thinking. When I listen to Deliverance, I'm thinking, yeah, this message of "if we all just love each other, everything will be alright" is something you've been telling us over and over again since the mid 80s. It's a beautiful thought, but not a very original one. So that's why I called him an idealist rather than an intellectual.
Don't ever lose your dreams.
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Reply #9 posted 04/23/17 8:34am

FlyOnTheWall

laytonian said:

. I agree. Especially considering that Prince was self-educated, not having a formal education being high school. He was described as a good student who didn't have to study much and I read one account that he fulfilled his credits early. All that while playing music and starring bands. . He truly was a genius, absorbing life. I'm listening to SOTT right now. Just stunning in every respect. . That big ol head of his held a lot of brains. . Of all the books in Paisley, no one's ever mentioned a thesaurus or dictionary... .

The "Paisley Park Museum Tour Companion Guide Compiled by soulhead" notes that there was a rhyming dictionary in his office: Complete Rhyming Dictionary by PaulPaul ZolloZollo.

[Edited 4/23/17 8:57am]

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Reply #10 posted 04/23/17 8:40am

FlyOnTheWall

fourletterwords said:

Hi, I am a long-time lurker that finally took the plunge to join the Org. The discussions on the forums here have truly been a phenomenal way to celebrate Prince after losing my two favorite musical artists (the other being Bowie) in the space of a few months. I thank you all for that. Over the past year, I have continually revisited what I believe is Prince's status as an intellectual artist on par with the likes of Bowie, Lou Reed and Dylan - who are oft considered the rock intelligencia Certainly the music press and mainstream media's primary focus has consistently been placed on Prince's musical prowess, showmanship, physicality and the gender/sexuality politics that defined his early image. Personally, from the vantage point of my fan-ship, these fairly obvious traits are only one part of what makes Prince an artist par excellence - whose work justifies continual, close study. During his rather candid interview with Tavis Smiley, in 2009, Prince remarked at ome point on the crucial importance of creating one's "own universe", which he explained in the context of creating a coping mechanism for early childhood traumas and how, by extension, this informed his art. Fulfilling such a need appears to me to be THE common thread running through his work from (at least) Dirty Mind forward - obvious early examples being "Uptown", "Partyup" and "Controverzy". Prince's late 70s/Early 80s work shows a stylistic affinity toward punk (rarely revisited visually or audibly), which was a genre characterized by the creation of a cloistered scene or universe that rejected generally accepted social mores. "Around the world in a day" which Prince at one point called his "favorite" in a Detroit radio interview in 1986 once again returned (and, in fact, doubled down) on the notion of a complete conceptual piece, rather than a collection of thematically linked songs, even more overtly discusses the creation of an altermate reality and suspension of notions of place, space and time as a means to escape and/or create a new community. Prince's Utopian vision is a well developed concept that rivals Ziggy Stardust, Blood on the Tracks/Dylan's "themed" Albums and many other works in the rock lexicon that are more praised but less coherent. The conscious decision to set UTCM/Parade in the south of France to literally, geographically "escape" the confines of the MLPS associations of Purple Rain lore (and the death of his character im film/song) was tantamount to Bowie killing off Ziggy Stardust by retiring in concert and soon after changing his visual and musical aesthetic, but with more subtlety and musical nuance. Lyrically, songs like Anna Stesia, Joy in Repetition, Sign O' the times, Dorothy Parker, etc. show a facility with language, wordplay, alliteration, usage of internal rhyme and other lyrical/literary devices employed with prescisiom and clarity. Rarely are Prince's more adventurous song lyrics clunky or verbose, a flaw that inhibits more celebrated song writers. The album that personally drew me into the Prince universe was Emancipation, specifically the songs: New World, The Love We make, Dreamin' about you, Slave, Saviour and In this bed I scream. While the sound and "90s" production of this record caused a good deal of criticism on the Org and elsewhere, it's value as a piece of art in the Prince ouvre is that it is, perhaps, his most elaborate effort to create his own "universe", this time a settled domestic one, content with a wife and free of alleged contractual inhibitions at the hands of WB, complete with overt references to a New Age/alternative spiritual life philosophy that is artfully weaved throughout. Skipping the JW conversion covered widely here and the 2000s comeback records, AOA appears to have gained significant credit in hindsight as to its Thematic cohesion, RETURN to pre-JW inclusive spirituality and openness and Prince's grafting of his own work and influence On a drastically changing musical and technological landscape. A feeling of not belonging and a yearning for long-gone simplicity seems to pervade the album. Forgive my lengthy post. It is the culmination of years of forum lurking and a year of mourning a great artist who profoundly touched my life. Thus, my questions to you - has Primce been underrated as an intellectual artist/songwriter? (Absolutely) What, in your estimation, is Prince's most successful intellectual work? (Parade/Lovesexy-tie for me) Peace [Edited 4/22/17 20:22pm] [Edited 4/22/17 20:28pm] [Edited 4/22/17 20:52pm] [Edited 4/22/17 20:55pm]

Great analysis!! Thank you. I agree wholeheartedly: Prince is underrated as a thinker, in general, and as an intellectual songwriter, in particular.

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Reply #11 posted 04/23/17 8:49am

jcurley

I think it's like anything to do with Prince, like he's probably the best guitarist etc, because he does so much he never gets noted for one thing. Those artists you cite are far more specific.

Yes Prince was a great lyricist. I also think that because he mixes observation with spirituality for many people it counts from nothing. Like colonized mind
politically it's great but then he says without god it's just the blind leading the blind. For many that destroy the rest of the sentiment
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Reply #12 posted 04/23/17 9:28am

steakfinger

laytonian said:


Of all the books in Paisley, no one's ever mentioned a thesaurus or dictionary... .

A dictionary figures quite prominently in one of his silly little TV specials. I think it was The Beautiful Experience. In the TV special, a dictionary was left in Paisely Park surrounded by candles with a word circled for a lovely lady to find.

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Reply #13 posted 04/23/17 9:29am

steakfinger

While certainly very clever, I think Prince could best be described as a pseudo-intellectual. In the realm of pop music he was definitely very intelligent, but that is not saying very much considering his recent competition.

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Reply #14 posted 04/23/17 9:32am

luvsexy4all

he's was a clever mofo...

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Reply #15 posted 04/23/17 11:03am

ludwig

mediumdry said:

Interesting question. To me, Prince is a brilliant composer and instrumentalist and singer. He certainly has a way with words, but one thing I have never seen him as is as in intellectual.

.

He was spiritual and sexual, but when it came to thinking and logical deduction, he missed the mark most of the time. I am not calling him dumb, but he was prone to stay stuck in mysticism and new age babble. Ideas like those expressed in Ronnie Talk To Russia and America are way oversimplified (and in my mind plainly wrong) and in Sign Of The Times he even subscribes to the foolish notion that "reefer" is a gateway drug to heroin. (within 9 months, no less)

.

He tried hard to appear "deep", but it mostly came out as chemtrails and other conspiracy thinking. The most profound he ever got, in my opinion, is in The Grand Progression, when he questions the existence of god. He never seemed to question his "truths".

.

Later on, things got worse of course: "is it better to be leader or a follower?" and other such false dichotomies. The further in his career, the less open his thinking seemed to be. He'd rather appear deep than actually think critically. So to me, while I admire him for many traits, he is not an intellectual and he actually is anti-intellectual as he urges people to stop thinking critically and look towards mysticism for received wisdom.

.

<edit for formatting>

[Edited 4/23/17 5:55am]

Thank you. My thoughts exactly.

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Reply #16 posted 04/23/17 11:10am

McD

avatar

As a Prince fan, thank your lucky stars his 'intellectualism' was underrated. If he had the reputation of being a bright celebrity and gave that car crash of a Tavis Smiley interview you mention, we'd never hear the end of it. Imagine someone like George Clooney giving that interview, claiming one race was poisoning another from the sky, and when talking politics, advocated prophecy as the guiding force. Clooney would be finished. He would be making statements and apologies for months. His publicist would be existing on two hours sleep a night.

Fortunately people thought Prince was a very impressionable weirdo who talked out of his ass, but we all just gave him a pass because he was a musical genius who no one could take seriously. That view of Prince actually served him well when things like Tavis Smiley went public. Unless you look at it from the perspective that public shaming and no Yes Men may have benefitted him in the long run if he was capable of learning the lessons.

Also, since you mentioned it, you might want to listen to AOA from the perspective of his often barmy spiritualism, his waning health and those comments from Tyka that Prince considered himself done right at this time. I believe her. Listen to Way Back Home. His beliefs were shaped around a narrative that suited his current circumstances. They always did. A fool's game.
[Edited 4/23/17 11:13am]
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Reply #17 posted 04/23/17 11:43am

mediumdry

Just to clarify, I never said he was not intelligent. From his sense of humor and his ability, as said, to turn a line or phrase I actually think he's not stupid at all. By the way, when I visited Paisley Park a few weeks ago, I did notice dictionaries and a thesaurus in his office. I don't remember a rhyming dictionary, but it would fit in. It seems like he read extensively.

.

Prince is just not an intellectual. An important part of philosophy is logic and he fails there often. For instance, Colonized Mind, like mentioned. First off, he completely fails to understand evolution. (unless you give a very charitable interpretation that he feels there is a "prime mover" (the last retreat of those that believe in the god of the holes)) He even seems to connect it to a lack of morals in the next lines, although that could have been a separate issue to him. It becomes somewhat problematic in the mother/father part of the song, as it might be considered anti-gay. (although personally think it might refer to his troubled youth) The thing that kills the song is that he argues for questioning the rules, but than throws in his god, basically a set of rules, so he contradicts himself. There is no freedom in strict adherence to a religion.

.

Many philosophies, including most religions, can enrich the mind. Realizing that all religions codify "natural" (read, evolutionarily stable) morals, combined with/distorted by local culture at the time of writing them down is important in getting value from them, as opposed to dogma. Scientific thinking is not anti-religion, as religion and science are orthogonal to eachother, not opposed.

.

Looking at it like this, I wish someone had given him some Popper to read (or explained it to him) so he would have tried to falsify things a bit before he accepted them as gospel.

<edited for spelling>

[Edited 4/23/17 11:44am]

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Reply #18 posted 04/23/17 1:50pm

Ferret

I've never thought of him as intellectual in the slightest, a musical genius and quite bright yes, but I don't think he ever broadened his horizons much outside of religion.

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Reply #19 posted 04/23/17 2:00pm

purplerabbitho
le

Even 'intellectuals' have their emotional bias. I don't think emotion and intellect can be removed from one another entirely.

However, I must say that unlike 'intellectual's, Prince may have let his emotions sway his interpretations of what he read more than the other way around. He created a safe bubble around himself so therefore when real non-Prince approved info leaked in or he allowed it in, it was still filtered through a purple lens. However, I must say that AOA did seem to indicate that Prince's world view was changing maybe from a dark dense purple (almost unpenetrable) to a lighter lavender (still highly spiritual, but a bit more open to reconciliation rather than preachy denial).

Also, thelogians are intellectuals in some ways...they are just specialists. Theology/philosophy/art with prince would be interesting. Political discussions with Prince -- I am not too sure I would enjoy those 6 years ago. However, his involvement in Black LIves Matter, his relationship with Van Jones, his playing at the White HOuse, his seeming to embrace a female as president, and his love of the musical Hamilton offered a glimmer of hope that I could relate to some of his views.. But odds are political discussions would have been mostly consisting of disaagreements if they took place in 1998-2011.

[Edited 4/23/17 14:03pm]

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Reply #20 posted 04/23/17 2:13pm

purplerabbitho
le

Valid Point. But remember Prince wrote Deliverance between 2006 and 2008. AOA was much later and contains a more complex spirituality.

As for Deliverance's meaning. Its actually subtle JW preaching. Not in a bad way necessarily. He does say people should be nice to people but pay attention to the lines about Katrina Levees. He states that people's ability to care for one another is ultimately not enough--its limited and imperfect. He is saying that when shit hits the fan, try to love each other, but put your faith in God because he is coming to offer deliverance. Its an ends times statement...the silver lining to all the imperfections of life is that God is coming and will make things utopian. The more we suffer the quicker we are delivered..but be kind to each because once he does come back he will expect everyone to know how to treat (and be capable of treating) one another with love.

NorthC said:

I agree with Jay. The fact that you're not an intelectual doesn't mean you're not intelligent. I don't think there's anything wrong with mysticism, whether it's Christian, Buddhist, shamanistic... It's just a different way of thinking that can be very enlightening. One thing that does dissapoint me (and here mediumdry has a point) is that Prince didn't really develop his worldview or his way of thinking. When I listen to Deliverance, I'm thinking, yeah, this message of "if we all just love each other, everything will be alright" is something you've been telling us over and over again since the mid 80s. It's a beautiful thought, but not a very original one. So that's why I called him an idealist rather than an intellectual.

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Reply #21 posted 04/23/17 3:05pm

fourletterword
s

McD said:

As a Prince fan, thank your lucky stars his 'intellectualism' was underrated. If he had the reputation of being a bright celebrity and gave that car crash of a Tavis Smiley interview you mention, we'd never hear the end of it. Imagine someone like George Clooney giving that interview, claiming one race was poisoning another from the sky, and when talking politics, advocated prophecy as the guiding force. Clooney would be finished. He would be making statements and apologies for months. His publicist would be existing on two hours sleep a night.

Fortunately people thought Prince was a very impressionable weirdo who talked out of his ass, but we all just gave him a pass because he was a musical genius who no one could take seriously. That view of Prince actually served him well when things like Tavis Smiley went public. Unless you look at it from the perspective that public shaming and no Yes Men may have benefitted him in the long run if he was capable of learning the lessons.

Also, since you mentioned it, you might want to listen to AOA from the perspective of his often barmy spiritualism, his waning health and those comments from Tyka that Prince considered himself done right at this time. I believe her. Listen to Way Back Home. His beliefs were shaped around a narrative that suited his current circumstances. They always did. A fool's game.
[Edited 4/23/17 11:13am]



That's a great point about the Smiley interview, but we are dealing with a "rock star" here. I am reminded of Bowie's mid-70s interviews in which he proclaimed an interest in fascism, studying black magic, and his haphazard references to Kabbalah and mysticism in lyrics -- all of which music is basically brilliant in spite of the crackpot philosophies. Dylan, too, abruptly entered a preachy born-again phase (post-divorce) but he also gets the eccentricity pass.

Perhaps sanity is not a pre-requisite when speaking of whether a person is an "intellectual"...
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Reply #22 posted 04/23/17 6:29pm

206Michelle

Yes, his intellectualism is highly underrated. His songwriting is so superb that his lyrics are worthy of scholarly study at universities and colleges, if you ask me.
.
Here are some of his most superb songs lyrically, some of which fourletterwords already mentioned. These are the ones off the top of my head. I know that there are others.
.
Anna Stesia
SOTT
If I was Your Girlfriend
The Love We Make
Money Don't Matter 2 Night
Live 4 Love
Walk Don't Walk
Willing and Able
Thunder
And God Created Woman
7
Sweet Baby
Dark
Papa
Race
The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
Until U're in My Arms Again
Into the Light
Let's Go Crazy
I Would Die 4 U
Purple Rain
1999
Free
4 The Tears in Your Eyes
God
Animal Kingdom
The Ladder
Live 4 Love ~ Love is God, God is love, Girls and boys love God above
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Reply #23 posted 04/23/17 7:33pm

fourletterword
s

206Michelle said:

Yes, his intellectualism is highly underrated. His songwriting is so superb that his lyrics are worthy of scholarly study at universities and colleges, if you ask me.
.
Here are some of his most superb songs lyrically, some of which fourletterwords already mentioned. These are the ones off the top of my head. I know that there are others.
.
Anna Stesia
SOTT
If I was Your Girlfriend
The Love We Make
Money Don't Matter 2 Night
Live 4 Love
Walk Don't Walk
Willing and Able
Thunder
And God Created Woman
7
Sweet Baby
Dark
Papa
Race
The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
Until U're in My Arms Again
Into the Light
Let's Go Crazy
I Would Die 4 U
Purple Rain
1999
Free
4 The Tears in Your Eyes
God
Animal Kingdom
The Ladder



Yes! Many of the lyrics on "Come" I find to be spectacular. As always, not clunky or verbose, but succinct and surgical. Compare with writers like Elvis Costello who critics go nuts for (and is great in his own right), who says in 40 words what P says in 5...
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Reply #24 posted 04/23/17 7:35pm

214

confused

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Reply #25 posted 04/23/17 7:44pm

farnorth

Of course he was a popular musician and not an intellectual. But this is an excellent way of putting it--"intellectualism as a popular artist". He created a complex world of metaphors and symbolism that was visionary and indeed philosophical. Who else could pen the apocalyptic hedonism of 1999, etc?

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Reply #26 posted 04/24/17 12:52pm

dystopiandance
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I agree with this. The way I usually put it--and, to be fair, as a former academic I can be unnecessarily verbose--is that he's an extremely textually rich artist; his work is fascinating to unpack and is usually meaningful on many different levels.

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Reply #27 posted 04/24/17 3:00pm

jayseajay

McD said:

As a Prince fan, thank your lucky stars his 'intellectualism' was underrated. If he had the reputation of being a bright celebrity and gave that car crash of a Tavis Smiley interview you mention, we'd never hear the end of it. Imagine someone like George Clooney giving that interview, claiming one race was poisoning another from the sky, and when talking politics, advocated prophecy as the guiding force. Clooney would be finished. He would be making statements and apologies for months. His publicist would be existing on two hours sleep a night. Fortunately people thought Prince was a very impressionable weirdo who talked out of his ass, but we all just gave him a pass because he was a musical genius who no one could take seriously. That view of Prince actually served him well when things like Tavis Smiley went public. Unless you look at it from the perspective that public shaming and no Yes Men may have benefitted him in the long run if he was capable of learning the lessons. Also, since you mentioned it, you might want to listen to AOA from the perspective of his often barmy spiritualism, his waning health and those comments from Tyka that Prince considered himself done right at this time. I believe her. Listen to Way Back Home. His beliefs were shaped around a narrative that suited his current circumstances. They always did. A fool's game. [Edited 4/23/17 11:13am]

It's funny isn't it, because he does say some kooky as hell shit in that interview, I mean, he was P, he had some kooky as shit views about things...but people believing kooky things doesn't necessarily make them stupid. I would never call that interview a car crash...he says a great deal of considered, perceptive, well formulated things as well, and he's thoughtful, and very articulate, and sassy, and clearly a long long way from stupid. I showed it to my best mate, who is also an academic, and had never seen him speak at any length, and while we discussed some of the tin-hat / JW weirdness afterwards, her first impression was 'oh, he's really bright'. P was a bit of a weirdo, I mean, c'mon, that's not news, but he really really wasn't a dumb weirdo...

Not like I love my guitar....
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