Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Two-Track Tuesday: 1999

I was dreaming when I wrote this.

Who knew that way back in 1982 we had the technology to cram 11 rather long songs onto one two-track cassette? What took two LPs to contain would now fit on this new medium albeit with a few drawbacks: because the reels held more tape than usual, cassette players sometimes couldn’t pull all that tape across the deck heads at a consistent rate, causing the audio to flutter and drag. Sometimes more “sophisticated” tape players would misread the tension of the tape and, thinking it had reached the end of that side, would switch to the other track in the middle of a song.

Girl, you got an ass like I’ve never seen.

Who knew there was such a talented artist from Minnesota who could pack religion, sexuality, violence, lyricism, and danceability into 11 songs that ranged from pop to soul, from electronica to funk, from rock to ballad? I have to admit that Prince was the forbidden (musical) fruit that satisfied my ears as well as the cravings of my teenage libido. “Little Red Corvette”—whose imagery is both apparent and elusive—stands out as a success that has transcended its own historicity as well as my own immaturity.

“Let’s Pretend We’re Married”—the title says it all. I remember hearing—really hearing—the line near the end of the song for the first time at Lake Tawakoni, listening to this tape on Chris’ jam box, on some cool winter day around 1984: “I’m not saying this just to be nasty; I sincerely want to fuck the taste out of your mouth. Can you relate?” It was like pulling off a scab, like jumping into a fire, like a deep cut across the chest. It was dirty and illicit, and I wanted to hear it again and again.

Of course, “Can you relate?” became a catchphrase for the rest of my high school years.

Not knowing where I’m going, this galaxy’s better not having a place to go. Now I know.

I’ve always been a huge fan of “Lady Cab Driver,” especially the rape scene that bizarrely turns into something like a proselytizing: “This one is for the rich—not all of them, just the greedy, the ones who don’t know how to give.” Which one is more fucked-up here: Prince for conceiving such a song, or my twisted, pseudo-religious, horny ass that sang along all throughout my teen years? We’ll let the Son of Man judge.

Ha!

Thank U, Prince, for getting us through the 80s. And for getting us off.

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