“Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)” – An Ode to Prince

prince-1999-cover

Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)

At the age of 14, Prince was introduced to me while on vacation in Jamaica, in the West Indies. On the video for “1999,” two women (Jill Jones and Lisa Coleman) rocked sideways to the music with their hands on the keyboard looking seductively into our eyes as they sang, “I was dreaming when I wrote this / Forgive me if it goes astray.” I was intrigued. The band, evenly spaced about the stage, with Prince adorned in a shiny purple trench coat, guitar slung to the side as he slides down a pole to hit the stage. Once he lands, the audience (me) is completely captivated. My first inclination was “WHO is THAT?!” When I returned back to London, I rushed to Our Price record store to buy the single. The sound of 1999 was so different to what was happening in UK’s pop; its sound was funk, rock, and pop, with elements that harkened to James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic, with the hardness of Jimi Hendrix‘s guitar licks, and a visual style that bordered Victorian over punk rock. Prince‘s sense of individuality was striking; he was fully self-expressed, and so alluring that through watching him, you too wanted to adopt your own sense of originality.

The 80s was a time when music began to adopt digital techniques of productions through programmed sounds, with the synthesizer and the drum machine becoming central elements to Prince‘s overall sound. The song that truly hit me on the 1999 album was “Something in the Water (Does Not Compute).” Its vulnerability in questioning a relationship, the yearning and the tug of war between two people, where one does not understand the behaviour of the other. He questions his self-worth by singing, “Some people think I’m kind of cute / But it don’t compute when it comes to Y-O-U,” wondering why is he not enough, why is he being reduced to less and despite feeling this way, he can’t leave. He loves her in a painful and unsatisfying way that ultimately leaves him angry. At the end of the song, in bated breathe he says, “Why? Why? I do love you, or else I wouldn’t go through all the things I do.” Despite the constant rejection, it seems she needs validation, and for him to prove that he wants her, when it’s evidently clear. His haunting delivery of this song exudes so much pain and was the song I heard in my head when the news broke of his untimely death, mainly because it did not make any sense to me. “Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)” has been a staple throughout my life, as I look at past disappointments, whether in love or work, and through the hurts, still finding the space to love.

In loss, there is that notion of never being again, which is actually untrue. The memory, the interaction, whether actual or ethereal continue till the end of your time, and on into the afterworld, if such a place exists. Prince gave us so much of himself through his art, unabashedly, and unapologetically. Through his freedom, he showed love and to love is to be closer to enlightenment, closer to God. With tyranny, he worked tirelessly to protect his intellectual property and likeness. Far be it an act of defiance or being anti-internet, but standing up for art’s value, knowing your self-worth, and to value what you do. He illustrated that art of value is indeed worth paying for. It’s quite disappointing that this value has been lost over the years.

As we grieve the loss of our Prince, let’s find comfort in his music, his work ethic, and all those he had touched in music and philanthropy, extending his greatness and memory.

Prince, I wish U love, I wish U heaven…. For all time I am with U… U are with me… Until the end of time <3

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Roseann V. Warren

Founder + Editorial Director at Muphoric Sounds
A Brooklyn-based writer with a background in digital marketing, proudly calls herself a Prince head, and believes Hersey's chocolate should be a crime. Follow her @webdiva3000

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