“It’s been seven hours and fifteen days.” “Never trust a big butt and a smile.” “Rollin’ in my 5.0 with my ragtop down so my hair can blow.” So many memorable songs hit in 1990. Here are thirty of the year’s best:
I missed Prince’s debut album, For You, when it was released in 1978. My first exposure to him was hearing “I Wanna Be Your Lover” on the radio. It became a hit when I was in high school. Good song. Then I saw the video. Not what I expected. Before then I thought Prince was a trio of Black women, like The Emotions. My first visual exposure to Prince and already he was throwing my expectations.
His third album, 1980’s Dirty Mind, got a fair amount of press in music magazines, and its cover art made an impression. I was interested in the guy.
“Controversy” was a single my freshman year in college. The song grabbed me, and so I bought the 45, my first Prince record.
The life-changing moment came the following year, when I heard “1999” on KISS-FM in Boston. Holy crap! It blew my mind. It sounded like nothing else on the radio at that time or any other time. At that moment I became a big fan. I got a ride into Harvard Square, went to the Harvard Coop (the university’s bookstore/ record store/ probably other things I can’t remember store) and bought the 1999 album. (The same day I bought Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Can you believe the two albums came out a month apart? What a time to be alive!)
From that point on I was a certified Prince fanatic. I bought the first four albums. I bought subsequent albums on the days of release. I bought the twelve-inch singles, and eventually the CD singles. And for quite a stretch there Prince continued to blow my mind. I’m still awed by his genius and marvel at how he thought to do unconventional things with his music, such as removing the bassline from “When Doves Cry,” the only number one on the dance chart to not have a bassline.
I’ve met many great talents over the years. Brian Wilson. Tina Turner. Smokey Robinson. Norman Fell. But nothing compared 2 meeting Prince. It was in 1988. He didn’t say a word, though he did sign my work stationery:
Putting together a Prince playlist and disciplining myself to keep it to thirty songs is a tough task, especially as a Prince fanatic, but I persevered. I’m not saying these are his thirty best songs, nor are they his thirty most popular songs, nor are they my thirty favorites of his songs. It’s a mixture of all three of those categories (which, of course, have a lot of overlap). I threw in some of the hits others had with songs he wrote. It’s by no means complete, but it’s a start.
(The Spotify embed feature is STILL broken. Here is the link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3TrbpWDHR6CzcYRHmvSrRA?si=4367f868ddcf4e52)
Inspired by the December 29 birthdays of The Band’s Rick Danko, Marianne Faithfull, The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Jim Reid, The Offspring’s Dexter Holland, Propellerheads’ Alex Gifford, Yvonne Elliman, UGK’s Pimp C, GQ’s Emanuel Rahiem Leblanc, Brand Nubian’s Sadat X and Mary Tyler Moore.
Inspired by the season and the December 14 birthdays of Charlie Rich, Spike Jones, The Searchers’ Frank Allen, The Waterboys’ Mike Scott, Beth Orton, Jane Birkin, The Big Pink’s Robbie Furze and The Beatnuts’ Juju.
Inspired by the season and the December 8 birthdays of Sinéad O’Connor, The Doors’ Jim Morrison, Nicki Minaj, Gregg Allman, Jerry Butler, Dan Hartman, Geto Boys’ Bushwick Bill, Sammy Davis Jr., Chrisette Michele, Alice Deejay’s Judith Pronk and Martin Circus’ Gerard Blanc.
Inspired by the November 11 birthdays of XTC’s Andy Partridge, LaVern Baker, Wu-Tang Clan’s U-God, Marshall Crenshaw, Stubby Kaye, Peaches, Mose Allison, Raveonettes’ Sharin Foo, Dennis Coffey, Chris Smither, Static Major, The Ides of March’s Jim Peterik, and The Blasters’ Dave Alvin.