The upside is that I’ve rediscovered a lot of tremendously good music. Case in point, Prince’s song "Nothing Compares 2 U". [Now please note, although I’m admittedly a big Prince fan, I consider most of his recent output to be crap, and his erratic behavior to be annoying. So don’t blame me for his stupidity. And also please note, that like most fans of my ilk, (you can visit them on alt.music.prince) I used to think that Prince’s little 2, 4, U abbreviations were cute, until he started overusing them. And then, when those bizarre, overzealous fanatical fans of his starting sending their messages in that kind of shorthand themselves, the annoying affectation acquired the name "Princebonics". So don’t blame me for the name of the song, either.]
Back to my point. Everybody who’s over the age of 18 or so knows the song "Nothing Compares 2 U" from Sinead O’Connor’s version in 1990. I even liked that version a lot. But the song was written for one of Prince’s many self-aggrandizing side projects, this one was called The Family. There’s a long back story to the group, but the relevant part to the song is that it’s the only song Prince actually gave himself credit on in the liner notes for the record.
The reason it’s significant is because Prince wrote this beautiful song for a friend. A female friend, yes, but not a lover of his, which is, needless to say, a pretty unusual inspiration for him. The friend was Susan Rogers, who was his assistant at his studio at the time. (This is in 1986 or so.)
Rogers had been a daily helper for Prince during his obsessive sessions in the studio. In fact, this time period was one of the most prolific of his entire career. Towards the end of the sessions, Rogers’ father died, and she returned home for a few weeks to attend to matters. "Nothing Compares 2 U" was written during this time period.
It turns out that the verses where he talks about "All the flowers that [she] planted" having "withered away" were very literal. And Prince apparently had been staying up all night. So he wrote and recorded the song on his own and sent a tape of it to her at her parents’ house.
I like that story.