Peter McGraw invites Brandon Patrick, a comedian and musician, into the solo studio to talk about whether a remarkable character, Prince, was a Solo. Whether or not he was, Prince brought joy to the world through his music. Brandon and Peter discuss his remarkable abilities and how they led him to feel alone in the world.
Check out this Prince playlist.
Listen to Episode #141 here
Was Prince A Solo?
On occasion, I get an idea and rush to record an episode. This is one of those episodes. I invite Brandon Patrick, a comedian, and musician, into the Solo studio to talk about whether a remarkable character, Prince, was a solo. Whether or not he was, as a musician, Prince brought joy to the world through his music. We discussed his remarkable abilities and how they made him feel alone in the world. I hope you enjoy the episode. Let’s get started.
Welcome back, Brandon. You gave me a dog-eared copy of a book sitting right in front of us called Prince and The Purple Rain Era Studio Sessions: 1983 in 1984 by Duane Tudahl. I was reading it the morning before a mushroom trip. While tripping, I spent some time thinking about and crying about Prince and questioning whether he was a solo. I think he was, but since you know more about Prince than anyone, here we are.
It’s interesting because he is, and he isn’t right.
I don’t know. We are going to find that out.
No box can contain him. Every box, you were like, “He could also be.” Is he soul, R&B, funk, new wave, or jazz?
Who is Prince? Help someone who only knows three of his songs, which is the average listener, to understand who this person is.
Prince is the closest our generation has, and by generation, going back, the person before him would be Duke Ellington. He was the closest we have to a Mozart-like figure that could do anything in the realm of whatever contemporary music is as well or better than any of his peers.
I would have doubted that had I not read this home.
This book is insane. It’s detailed. If you read it quickly as a diary, it’s still overwhelming. When you look at the granular details like, “Wow.”
Let’s tackle all three of these things. Describe what the book does. Talk about what Duke Ellington was and how Prince is a contemporary Duke Ellington.
The book shows Prince’s two years of studio sessions while compiling Purple Rain in all of Around The World In A Day.
This is the album that put him on the map. Little Red Corvette put him on the map.
It was in 1999. Purple Rain was when he became the biggest thing on the planet. That was his year. This is like a book that details how he put together that album track by track and session by session.
Who was present, who was the engineer, where it was, what the hours were?
What was done? Sometimes he came in and added a new mix to a song. It’s like, “What?” The most fascinating part is look at the time because they have the times when the studio is booked and when he was there. Prince spent thirteen hours in the studio, played basketball with Sheila E for an hour, did a two-hour concert, and he was back out the next day. I know a lot of creative people, and none of them spend the amount of time on the mechanics of creating that Prince does.
I often give a book as a gift called Daily Rituals. I had the author on the show as part of the solitude series. In the book he documents, he puts together based on letters, biographies, autobiographies, and so on. What a typical creative person’s day, whether it be Jane Austen, Voltaire, or Hemingway, and none of the stories in his book compared to what Prince does. I was astounded by it.
It’s amazing how much he accomplishes in a day. Not just does but accomplishes. What people don’t realize about Prince and it’s come out more now that he is passed, but he was the guiding hand behind so much music. At the time, Sheila E, all of their albums were completely him in the studio and with different singers on the task.
We’re going to get into that because the other thing that the book does even better than documenting the studio sessions where you get a sense of the musical relationships that he has, their tensions, and, in some ways, how fraught those relationships ended up being because of the type of person Prince is. I had no idea Duke Ellington was such a maestro.
When I went to college, I wanted to be a jazz ranger in the style of Duke Ellington. It didn’t pan out. He was interesting in that he is an analog. He was born in 1900-ish and died in the ‘70s. Everything is analog. There is no digital anything.
That means tape.
There is no electric keyboard and production on things. Duke is getting sounds out of individuals that sounds like an animal, but it’s within this musical context. He was incredible at expressing the individuality of each of his band members. He was highlighting them, which is the opposite of what Prince did, but he highlighted all of his band members. We are talking like an eighteen-piece orchestra. He writes sophisticated for what was when he started looking at it as a primal art. He was able to pull out so much cool textural stuff. All of the jazz from him was influenced by what he did with those bands in a way that Mozart influenced everything that came after him.
Was Ellington able to play all the instruments in the way that Prince was?
Not at all. He was a piano player only.
That’s one of the things that was striking about Prince. There is a quote in the book, which I read pre-trip, and it’s this quote that had me tripping about this. He said, “I am a musician, and I am music.” I feel like Prince was alone in his genius. On the one hand, he needed a band to perform live but didn’t need a band to record music. They were around, and it enhanced people would come up with a lick or would help with lyrics and so on. Prince could play every single instrument. He could also arrange all of his own music and engineer it. I don’t know that much about music, but that seems pretty incredible to me.
One of the reasons I love Prince versus like a band, like the Beatles, the Beatles always sound like reference tracks to me. It always seems standard. If I was a bass player, that is the baseline I would play with Yesterday because that is the most logical one. Everything seems basic.
That’s not a critique.
No, it’s still good music. It’s just not good music that I enjoy. I can play every instrument, but I can’t sound like an individual on every instrument. I sound like a drummer, a piano player, or a bass player, but it sounds like what you would get out of a vending machine, like the default, lowest-level skill. Prince was better than all of the musicians in his band at their instruments. On every instrument, he sounds like an individual. In the book, he was saying he was trying to trip himself up. He would do something different in the drums, in a certain part, to see if he would catch it as a bass player. He would do the same thing with the bass on the guitar. Most of us are trying to get the songs out.
The average person is trying to get through their day. The average musician is trying to get good enough to be able to compete in this incredibly competitive world. Prince was 25-ish when this was all happening, which gets us back to this question, and we will get into more about him because he is such a fascinating character. I feel like he was solo, not because he was a loner or because he was single at heart. He was solo in the sense that he couldn’t quite connect to normal people. Where he was at his best was making music, and he couldn’t differentiate himself from music anymore.
I also don’t think that any person with a degree of autonomy would be interested in a guy like Prince and would accept his behavior.
Describe some of his behavior.
He would be recording in the studio for twelve hours. That alone is an insane chunk of your day. Not only that, you’re going to be tired after that or be wired. You’re going to be full of creativity, and you go home to a partner. If they are not on that same wavelength, it’s like, “I got to get away from this person. They are the opposite of what I’m feeling.” I don’t think there’s anyone who would let someone come home at 4:00 in the morning, get up at 5:00 to record a song, and be gone forever. When you see them, they got many ideas in their head. They can’t get them out. You also have to be a person. If you have an interest in hobbies that they’re not participating in at all because he’s not showing any interest in anyone or anything.
My sense is that he was on the spectrum.
Had to have been.
I don’t know exactly where, but it has all the markings of someone who has Asperger’s or autistic.
Someone that was hurt young by their family because that’s a big thing. He was abandoned by his dad for a couple of years, and all he had was this piano. He was like, “I’m going to do this now.” He dealt with tremendous hurt. He had to live with friends, and it was a weird family situation growing up. Part of it was, “Those were supposed to be the closest people to me, and they are not. If they’re supposed to be the closest, no one is getting closer than that. You see a lot of that in his personal relationships. He was loyal ish to band members.
I want to revisit this idea of out-of-this-world people. Many of them still try to live within the world. They are people who are revolutionizing the world, taking on governments, and yet, they are married with kids. They are able to step outside the matrix in some ways, and then others are deeply connected and adhering to the social norms of the world. Some of that probably, they might need someone to take care of their household and everything to allow them to be a genius, to be a revolutionary, to be whatever makes them unusual and extraordinary.
That stirs some stuff up for me. I think Prince was a solo until he got married and changed his mental state. Once he left the marriage, the post-Musicology era, 2004, he was a relatively public figure. He had friends. He was hanging out more. He was less of the, “I have to just create because that’s all that I am.” More of like, “I’m the coolest guy in the world, and everyone knows it. I can do whatever I want. Me and my friends are going to hang out.”
I feel like he was on a bit of a glide path in the following way and in a rational way. This is audacious. He says, “Elvis did movies. The Beatles did movies. I want to do a movie.”
More importantly, Michael Jackson doesn’t have a movie.
He does this movie, and it’s good. I watched it when I was in high school. He created all the music for the movie. It wasn’t like, “Here is the music. Let’s make this movie.” He scored the whole movie. He created all of this stuff.
He wrote over 100 songs for Purple Rain, and only nine made the album. Now we have heard some of the other songs, it’s like, “If I landed on that, that still be the best I could do.”
He was the biggest act in the world. Everybody knew who he was. He has the biggest album and this amazing movie. He recognized that is the pinnacle, or the peak, which is an incredibly rational thing to recognize that it’s probably not going to get bigger than this. It sounds like he adjusted.
He adjusted in the way that he adjusted. He handled it the way he did, but I don’t think the people around him appreciated that knowledge because immediately after Purple Rain, he made Around The World In a Day, which is as different sounding an album as there could be. He was like, “We’re not going to go on tour either. We’re not doing a big tour for it.” It gets bigger. He was like, “No, I already know it doesn’t get bigger. We are going to go smaller.” Everyone around him was mystified by that.” That is who the dude is.
In those mid-twenties, he didn’t seem to have the strongest people skills. In some ways, he was a smart guy and funny guy. He could be a charismatic guy to be able to lead a band, but he had a lot of conflicts with fellow musicians. He was a charitable guy, but he seemed to underpay these folks. At least, that was a complaint that they had.
That was the reality. To give him the benefit of the doubt to a degree, I don’t know that he would have known what would be appropriate to pay someone because when you are worth so much money and you were doing gigs for little money for long, it’s like, “Do they scale with me? Do they scale with the industry? What should I pay these guys? Should they be making these crazy things because he is also got the foresight to know? They are not going to be in my band forever. These guys are going to go to different bands. If I’m giving them $10,000 a week and they go to Springsteen, he’s giving them two. No one is making what you think you should be making.”
That’s interesting to hear. I don’t know anything about this stuff.
That’s just speculation. He never said that directly.
The other hypothesis is that there is a mismatch between what they think they are contributing and what he is contributing. These are good musicians. You alluded to this already, but he was a puppet master of sorts. There is a band called The Time. It was led by Morris Day, who is an accomplished musician. They had mutual respect. They were friends. Prince created the time in order to have a funk band.
Warner Bros. was like, “More money is on this commercial side.” Prince was like, “I want some more money. I’m making commercial-ish music anyway. I’m going to make some funky music.” Warner Bros. was like, “No, you are not.” You are going to do what you do, but no, two albums a year, no funk album and rock album.”
He would create all the music that these guys would play. Not all of it, but they contributed.
The whole first album was done before the band was even real. Morris is on drums for the first album, and Prince is on everything else. All the backup singers are friends. There was no band at that time.
He put together a band to perform all the music that he made. It was opening for him, and they were good because he had accomplished musicians, who practiced hard, were professionals and were competitive. At first, they were the stronger band, which is ironic. They were the stronger band because they were playing his music.
He is not getting the credit because nobody knows back then.
He starts a girl band and does the same thing.
He makes The Time play back up to them. The Morris Day book, On Time: A Princely Life in Funk, is a super fascinating read.
I would be interested to get the other perspective.
We were not happy.
That’s clear from this book that they were not happy. The reason I bring this up is because this is extraordinary. Here is this person in his mid-twenties who is creating music for three different bands and decides to create music for a movie by putting out an album simultaneously. It was the biggest thing. I have a distinct memory of let’s go crazy. My friend’s mom is cranking this up in her Chevy Cavalier with us in the backseat. I thought she was the coolest mom in the world when she did that.
Growing up, I didn’t even like Prince. I didn’t like the music that he made. When I was a kid, I liked hip hop and stuff. It wasn’t interesting, all these horns. I didn’t think it was cool. College came, and I only listened to instrumental music in college. I was a big jazz guy. For a long time, I had this theory that Prince was a fraud. He plays every instrument, but how well? How good is Prince?
I started paying attention around 2005, While My Guitar Gently Weeps thing. It was a great solo. It’s like, “This guy is good at guitar. He is a guitarist.” Super Bowl comes, good guitar show. He is a good guitar player. He passed in 2016, and I started trying to investigate the fraud. There is a website, Prince Vault. It tells you who played what on every single song. I was like, “I’m going to find the songs that he played everything on. I’m going to find out if he drags as a drummer or if he misses a note on the bass. I’m going to figure it out.” I never figured it out.
I don’t think you’re feeling about Prince’s unusual. His contemporaries were Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, and Michael Jackson. I’m now convinced that he is superior to all of them as a musician and someone who creates music. There is a difference between him and his contemporaries and that is their music is much more accessible. You can listen to almost any Springsteen song, any Michael Jackson song, and any Madonna song, and it’s going to be good-ish.
It will sound like that person.
You are going to be like, “This is Madonna. I like Madonna. I like this song.” I have been listening to Bruce Springsteen. I got into him in college, and I still like what he puts out because it’s Springsteen, and it’s solid music.
I had never heard of Springsteen’s song.
In the book, it comes up that Prince admired Springsteen as a performer and as a lead to a strong band, which I thought was a nice recognition.
He rarely recognized people of his generation in a positive way.
There is a quote in the book by Lisa Coleman, and it was, “Prince against the world.” He had a chip on his shoulder. He was competitive. I feel the same way. His best stuff is incredible. It’s among my favorite music. You regularly give me Prince’s songs to listen to. You have lent me albums to listen to. I feel like it’s beyond me.
It’s not fluent enough for me. I don’t know enough about jazz or funk. I don’t know enough about the creation of music to appreciate what he was doing. Coltrane would perform, and people would be walking out the door. Other people were saying, “I never heard anything like this. This is a genius that we’re witnessing.” That is one of the things about Prince. He is not as accessible.
I would also say that he’s different in live than he would be on a record. Maybe the experience you get from a record isn’t what you get live. You were like, “This is not what I thought it was. I love this and don’t like the studio stuff now.” When Michael Jackson put out an album, the tour was him playing that album as close to the record as possible, whereas Prince tried to get as far from the record as possible.
Prince is a musician, and Michael Jackson is a performer. That is the difference. Prince couldn’t tour if he couldn’t challenge himself, challenge a band, put him on the spot, and show you how great this is. Michael Jackson is just saying, “Here is exactly what you want it. Isn’t this awesome?” For most people, that is awesome. It’s like, “That’s what I wanted.”
Sometimes you go to a Prince concert, and you are like, “This guy is talented. I love seeing all this, but I don’t recognize any of these songs.” In 2002, he stopped playing his hits as he had done a couple of other times. He was like, “I’m not going to play any hits.” The album he was touring was about his conversion to Jehovah’s Witness. It was jazz-heavy, very overtly religious music. People were like, “What?”
I talk about solos as independent of the relationship status of having these three elements. One is that they see themself as a whole person. There is not someone that is going to come along and complete them. The second is that they are self-reliant. They are autonomous. The third is that they’re unconventional thinkers.
He is 1 in 3, but 2 is interesting. He relies on people for the human aspect of living. Someone has to get him food and make him clothes. You and I would just go buy food and buy clothes.
I wonder if Prince knew what a gallon of milk cost.
There’s no way that he did because I have heard the story from a lot of people. Chen hasn’t where he lived in Minneapolis. He could be himself. He walked around, and people wouldn’t mob or freak him out or anything. He would regularly pay for Starbucks for a $100 bill, and he would leave before they could give him the change. There is a guy named Morris Hayes, his keyboardist. There was a hole in the fence at Paisley Park and they were going to repair it.
Paisley Park is his home and recording studio.
This is what bums me out about these books because I don’t think they are going to be able to make any after the one they made. Once he gets his own recording facility, he doesn’t have to write anything down. It’s like, “What is going to happen with these books? For some reason, it’s a Morris Hayes and Prince hijinks. They have to figure it out. Prince was like, “What do we need?” He was like, “We got to get this for the fence, and we need to get a pair of pliers.”
They go, and Prince escalade to like an ACE Hardware in the middle of a snowstorm. Morris was like, “Don’t leave the car. I will go run in and get it. I will come back.” He was like, “It has been five minutes. I see this little dude behind me.” He goes, “Are these pliers?” It was Prince, and it was not pliers. It was a stapler or something. He was like, “I got bored. Let’s get out of here.” This guy has no concept of how to exist as a normal person because, by the time he had responsibilities, he was out of the house. He was eighteen with a recording contract for Warner Bros, worth so much money.
Is that right? I didn’t know that.
At seventeen, he had the record deal. Because they didn’t believe in him, they were like, “What do you mean he plays all the instruments?” He had some demos, and they were like, “The drummer is good.” He was like, “No, that is all me.” They were like, “That is impossible.” They made him audition on every instrument before they would sign him.” He auditioned on all of them passed. They gave him a huge cost. He is great. I don’t think he ever knew the very basics.
Who was taking care of that stuff for him in the background? It wasn’t a wife. He got married later.
He got married in the ‘90s and again in the 2000s, but he had assistance. He had a way of making everyone his assistant. If you are around, you have to be useful. If you are a security and I don’t need to be secure, go get the dinner or whatever. If you’re around, you’re doing something.
The book talked about this personal life a little bit but in sparse detail. Let’s go through some of these relationships. Let’s start with his bodyguards because he had an unusual relationship with his bodyguards. Is that true?
He started off without any. At the beginning of the book, he doesn’t have any. He has nothing.
No one knows who he is.
He’s like last year’s Rick James opening act. Now, he’s solo.
It’s a scene in there where his bodyguard carries him up to the stage.
He had a massive bodyguard named Big Chick. They weren’t friends, but he was always around. He saw the most vulnerable moments. Security guards would be his closest friends. He had another one named Wally that he confided in and some stuff. He doesn’t have a way to relate. If you can’t make music, he has no use for you in his life. He was like, You can’t hang out with me. I don’t hang out. I make music all the time.” The only people who don’t do that are the security guards. Any small talk would be juicy.
They get to glimpse into his world and get connected. They are guarding his body. There is intimacy there. His dad plays a bit of a role in his life. His father was a musician. There is a scene in Purple Rain that sticks with me. His father secretly plays music in the movie and warns his son about relationships.
I don’t know that his dad would be able to teach him about success as a musician. There is no real record of him having that level of success. He played jazz piano, but he wasn’t Bill Evans.
His exposure to music was through his father. He has friends and most of his friends are musical types.
All of the time was the people he grew up with.
These were fraud relationships in part because they were competitive and in part because these folks didn’t think they were getting enough of their due. A lot of it seemed like Prince lacked some basic social skills to be able to negotiate these things and express proper gratitude or nuance and emotional intelligence in leading a band. However, he had such gravitas that people, for the most part, were willing to put up with it because it was like, “What else am I going to do?”
This dude is on a trajectory, and he doesn’t need me in the studio. It’s like the dream gig for a lazy musician. He was like, “He doesn’t need me in the studio. I’m there for live and rehearsal.”
I could see if you were an ambitious musician, you would struggle with it.
Yes, because you start wanting a solo career. He was like, “I’m going to produce you.” Once you know who Prince produced, when you listen to those records, they sound like Prince produced them.
Let’s mention some of the people that he produced.
Sheila E, The Time, Maserati, Vanity 6, which later became Apollonia 6 and some contemporary people, Bria Valente. He did this weird thing for that particular Bria Valente, who knew nothing about her debut album coming packaged with two print albums. They were advertising these 3 print albums and it’s 2 print albums. One replays all the instruments, but someone else sings. Why would he do that?
Why does he do that?
He looked at it as, “I’m going to give you the ultimate help.” How helpful is it to give people something they either don’t know about or don’t want?
I think he had this pouring out of him and he was looking for whatever vessel he could fill. It is the sense that I had from it. I’m a creative person and I’m compelled to do creative work now. I have a few too many projects, but I can turn it off. It doesn’t torment me. I don’t think I have 120th of what was happening in his world.
It’s like I’m working on a one-man show and a standup album. I can’t even imagine, while I’m in that process, also writing a standup album for someone else. That’s different for my standup album. That is so good that it gives them the prestige that my album will give me. I’m also doing this on a secret basis. Nobody even knows that I’m doing this, but I got so much comedy in me that it’s got to come out of other people. That is the only way. That is abnormal.
Let’s talk about his intimate and romantic relationships. Prince was a sexual creature. He is also was a religious man. There is an interesting paradox there. He got in trouble with the moral majority. This was back when they were slapping on albums, and he did not shy away from that. He had beautiful girlfriends. He would create music for some of them and date others. He was married twice.
The first marriage ended because they had a kid together and the kid died six weeks after it was born. It f***** him up. She had a miscarriage afterward, and he looked at it like, “God doesn’t want me to have a kid with you. Why am I with you?” That fizzled out. The second marriage is a secret. She is not a public figure at all. He met this lady, married her, and moved to Toronto. He lived with her for two years and fizzled out. Nobody knew because nobody knew he was even married.
Is he a romantic guy?
It could be, but it depends on what you consider romantic. He would sometimes write songs for women. He was like, “I wrote you this song.” They were like, “This song isn’t nice. What are you saying?”He was like, “I wrote it for you” They were like, “This is awful.” On the Around The World In a Day cover, he got all of his band members painted as different things. One of his backup singers from his early albums, he was like, “I painted you on the album too. I had you on there.” It’s an old woman that’s crying. She was like, “Why would you do that?” He was like, “See.” I don’t think he got it, like how a normal guy might make a slightly overt gesture. It was over the top or nothing at all.
This man was not built for this world. I like to experiment. I was compelled to talk to you about this because it showed up on my trip, and it affected me. I was emotional about how difficult it must have been for him to be a human being in a world where no one is matching his work ethic and his ability to understand what he was doing. Who do you relate to? I have many friends who get me and get what I’m doing. I can expose myself to them and not blink. I thought it was such a reminder that like this one size fits all model of how we are supposed to live certainly can’t work for everyone.
It’s not tailored for celebrities.
He probably didn’t fit even before he was a celebrity.
They said he was pretty weird growing up. He has always been a loner. He just wanted to do music.
He certainly is unconventional. He matches that third condition. He spent time in LA. He recorded in LA, but he kept his home in Minneapolis. Why did he do that?
He said, “Minneapolis got too cold for bad people to want to go there.” It was another Prince-like, “It has to be done my way. Why should I have to go to LA to be famous? I’m going to live here. If you want to work with me, you have to come here. These are my terms. I control this.”
What about the color purple?
I think it was a coincidence.
It’s an unusual color to choose.
Around the time, he dressed féminité. Purple wasn’t the dominant color until the Controversy album cover, but he didn’t dress like that during the tour, but it’s the color, 1999. The background is purple. That’s when it started. Even by ‘87, he was like, “I’m so over purple.” He started wearing peach. For the Parade down, he started wearing yellow. It was a seasonal thing.
It’s because of Purple Rain in part. It’s connected and the paisley.
I think it is the words Paisley Park.
I was thinking about who he was most like as a performer. It came up, and it got answered in the book. That is James Brown. Why is that?
James had control of his band. A lot of people have a band, but the band is there to play the music from the album. They are not fleshed-out characters or whatever. They are just trained to play the songs. It’s the band, but with the revolution and with James Brown’s band, the JBs, it was like, “No, these guys are good.” They can stop on a dime. They can do punches. They can do whatever. They can play their own songs within songs. They can change it in the middle.
It was a jazz model in some ways.
It’s like showy jazz.
James Brown used to find his band. If you missed a beat or something, he would be like, “Got you.”
He flashed his hand five times. That’s $5. Prince would do the same thing. During the Purple Rain tour, he would be like, “I’m going to get every one of you. I have a live album more. I’m going to get everybody what he’s saying is like, “I’m going to trip everyone up in this band however many times” He would call out 63 punches, where it is like dot-dot.
Larry Bird was good that he would get bored playing regular NBA games. He would decide, “I’m just going to shoot left-handed this game.” These are the best players in the world. They are doing everything they can to stop you. You are bored that you’re like, “I’m going to shoot lefthanded.” You are describing that version of, “How do I create a challenge?”
Some people are content giving the show. Katy Perry is giving you the show. He is got to show you that he can perform on the highest level that the performance is dictated by him. He has such control over it. We can switch songs in the middle of a song, and no one has messed up. There is no big video display going on that is going to be screwed up by me doing whatever I want to do. The few times he had to play a lip sync situation, e was openly bored. It is the same thing with left-handed shooting. There is a clip of him at the Billboard Awards where he has to lip sync. He can’t sing into a live mic, and he is chewing bubble gum the entire time.
It’s interesting because the average person they are consuming this music and not understanding the flourishing that underlies it all. As we close, what is it that keeps this idea of Prince as a solo in mind? Is there something else that comes to mind about his life, music, and relationships that suggest how different he was?
The way that he distributed music was singular and him. He wants it out on his terms. He wants it out when it’s out or done. It’s interesting that he created so much yet made it difficult to get it on many levels. In the ‘90s, he put out an album called Crystal Ball, and the only way you could get it was by calling a hotline and giving your credit card number over the phone. It is in the ‘90s. This was not done.
This is the only way you can get this album. It will not be in stores in this form. Now you have to go on the internet and pre-order my album, and we will mail it to you. This is before Amazon. They were like, “What do you mean, go on the internet?” Everything has to come from him. I think he is a solo, but he was blurry-ish.
Solo is not about being a loner, necessarily. You can have rich connections, lead a team and do all these things, but there is something about the solos that they don’t quite fit in the world. The world is not exactly designed for them.
It’s interesting that so much of the world had to follow him, friends-wise, if you think about it. Ordering an album on the internet is nothing. I do it every day. That is a common activity for me, but it would have been incomprehensible several years ago. You couldn’t even conceptualize getting on the internet several years ago. It didn’t even exist several years ago. It’s right at the nexus of the ideas meeting. This guy was like, “That’s what we can do. Let’s start giving away albums with ticket sales. Ticket sales count as album sales.” Now Billboard is got to change the way that they count album sales. He figures out these ways around a system that was designed to trap him.
Music is big business. Often the record labels are the puppet masters. That is the case.
He did everything he could to break that model.
The classic is The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.
I’m going to protest everything that I do. No one has ever seen a guy put out two albums to compete with himself on the charts as himself and symbol. They don’t know what to do with a guy like that. He was not made for this world. Whatever universe he was supposed to be born in, he accidentally comes here and figures it out. It’s odd that someone that odd would succeed to that degree.
Maybe you succeed posthumously is often the case. People realize you are a genius late after you’re gone because you were too early. You made me a mix in preparation for this. I’m going to share that mix in the exhibits for this. I will share it on the Solo Community, which you can sign up at PeterMcGraw.org/Solo. In closing, will you describe what went into making that mix? It’s about two and a half hours’ worth of music. What was your rationale for this particular mix tape?
The goal was to show range. It starts off with a jammy track where he is just having fun but also shows you how long and how consistently he can play.
It’s a thirteen-minute song.
You could skip it. It’s fine.
It was in the book. It was talked about it a lot in the book. I was eager to listen to it.
If you’re not into it after three minutes, you have gotten all that you will ever get out of it. You can jump on past. It was the range of the guy, solo piano pieces versus these big massive band pieces and all of it is entirely dictated by one dude.
There is a lot of live music you put on there.
It is to show you how to switch songs within songs and how great bands were. Live Prince is better than studio Prince. There is no studio album I listen to that I prefer a live album. It’s cool to see how in control of his band. Even just hear it. He was saying things like horns, back off, or whatever. It’s a good collection of relatively obscure tracks.
There are two things I like about you. One is you are generous with your time. I sent you a text, “When are you next available?” You were here to do this, which I appreciate. The other thing is how passionate you are about creative pursuits and your appreciation for them. As a creative yourself, I’m sure it fuels you, but I have learned a lot from hearing you talk about it.
I love sharing the things I love. I like to become an evangelist for everything I believe in.
That is another form of generosity. It is to be able to share your knowledge and enthusiasm because I wouldn’t appreciate Prince in the way that I do if it wasn’t for you. I wouldn’t have puzzled over this question.
He is such a singular dude that even though he needed people for monotony, he didn’t need people.
I talk about needing a team. He had a different type of team than the team that you or I require. I don’t need someone to make my meals for me, but I need someone to call and get advice from. He had the opposite. There’s no one he could look to for advice, but it is someone to cook him some pancakes. Brandon, thank you for your time.
Thanks for having me.
- Brandon Patrick
- Prince and The Purple Rain Era Studio Sessions: 1983 in 1984
- Daily Rituals
- Solitude Series – Past Episode
- On Time: A Princely Life in Funk
- Prince Vault
About Brandon Patrick
Brandon Patrick is a stand-up comedian, storyteller, and host of host of Burritos with Brandon.