My Favorite Prince Jam

The WENDOH Media staff remembers The Artist in the best way—through his songs

Prince is not dead. He’s merely no longer releasing new material. (Maybe. Rumors persist of a “vault” of unreleased songs.) And there’s so much Prince music out there—more than three-dozen studio albums alone—that even hardcore fans can come back around to an older track and experience it with fresh ears. Prince’s music is dynamic, alive—which means that, in a way, Prince is alive, too.

Last week, I asked my WENDOH Media friends to talk about their favorite Prince songs, and what they mean to them. Not “meant.” Prince is never past tense. Geoff Carter

“Darling Nikki” is my all-time favorite song, in all its seductive glory. I had the pleasure of booking Prince when we were managing (now-defunct) Empire Ballroom in 2006. To say you booked Prince really meant Prince’s camp called the venue and said the Purple One wished to play there. On the night of the event, an unapologetic Prince finally came on two hours late … and played two hours longer than he had promised. Played 34 make-good songs. He was truly one of a kind. Ryan Doherty

My personal favorites are “Starfish and Coffee” and “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man.” Just before that Empire Ballroom show I met Slash, who was standing at the bar. I was shocked; I told him he was the last person I expected to see at the show. And he said Prince was one of the most talented guitarists and musicians he had ever heard perform, and he wasn’t going to miss it. Keith White

I have to go with “Purple Rain,” because it has a mesmerizing rhythm and melody, has soulful lyrics … and showed me he can really play the shit out of the guitar. Hubble Ray Smith

I played “1999” endlessly in the last days of 1999, trying to give my suburban Texas neighbors more fright than usual. This was back when the media said planes would fall from the sky because of the Y2K bug; people were hoarding food in case of Armageddon. I don’t know if I really loved the song, or loved watching my doomsday-obsessed neighbor shake his head as my ’87 Honda Accord rolled into the cul-de-sac, bumping, War is all around us / my mind says prepare to fight / So if I gotta die, I’m gonna listen to my body tonight. Soni Brown

“Joy in Repetition” is the reason why I got the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack (but I have yet to finish the movie). Every New York and Los Angeles art bar wishes they were this song, and Prince’s guitar solo at the end is pure sex. And “Pop Life” mirrored my surroundings while growing up in Vegas. The song encapsulated the struggle to stay sane while always facing temptation in an overly biased, cruel world. Herbert Akinyele

I wanted to see Purple Rain on opening day, but I wasn’t old enough to see it, so my mom made my dad take my friend and me. My dad thought he was a “funny-looking little guy.” It was a little awkward when Apollonia jumped in “Lake Minnetonka” topless; I covered my dad’s eyes, as if he hadn’t seen a naked woman before. Needless to say, the movie ends, and my dad is a Prince fan. Kara Dennis

I discovered the magic as a teen. I bought the Purple Rain LP for $5 and immediately stuck the semi-warped platter on my record player. “Let’s Go Crazy,” the straightforward rock tune that opens the album, showed me a different side of the man. He’d crafted a simple tune with an infectious melody, and my feeble mind was—for lack of a better word—rocked. He obliterated any preconceived notions I had of him as a one-trick funk pony. Ian Caramanzana

I used to have a lot of parties at my old shitty house. My Sundays were spent picking up fallen soldiers and sweeping up cigarette butts. I typically spent most of my time at these parties DJing from an iPod in my bedroom, where I had these 4-foot speakers I got from a garage sale for 10 bucks; they didn’t look pretty but they worked perfectly. My goal was to start a dance party—and “Kiss” was my secret weapon. Still is. It never fails. Jessie O’Brien

It’s an impossible task to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose his most irresistible, it would probably have to be “Kiss.” The opening riff is almost like a drumroll or quick blast of fireworks to get our attention before the song slides into its hypnotic rhythm, the trademark fingerpicked guitar both funky and delicate at the same time. The falsetto vocals rough up Motown-smooth with an edge from passion both musical and carnal; the shrieking climax that out-frenzies both Jackie Wilson and Robert Plant. In the video Prince shimmies in velvet hiphugger bell-bottoms and a turban—macho as hell, the lingerie-clad video vixen clearly doesn’t have a prayer against a man who croons Women not girls rule my world so convincingly. –Lissa Townsend Rodgers

I like “Kiss.” It reminds me of Tom Jones. Anthony Curtis

The first song I ever danced to with my now-husband was “Cream,” which was in heavy rotation on the radio when we were in high school. It came on and we just started dancing in a pretty spontaneous and innocent way, especially considering how risqué the song is. It’s not what I’d call our song, but I always think back to the kind of earnest new love one has in youth when I hear it. I had no idea then that we’d get married! This year, we celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary, so I’d say it worked out. Emmily Bristol