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Five things I learned from visiting with Prince: From album plans to thoughts on Prop. 8

Prince500_2

Tuesday morning, I received the Golden Ticket of journalistic invitations: a summons to Prince's mansion, high atop Mulholland Drive, to hear the new music he'll be releasing sometime after the holidays. At 8 p.m. that evening, I drove my dirty Mazda past the fountain in his courtyard, parked by the limo in the back, and entered his manse. The man himself greeted me in a candelit study, where he was laboring over a laptop with his Web designers, Anthony Malzone and Scott Addison Clay.

The next five hours took me from that room to a car Prince referred to as "Miles Davis," where we listened to one set of songs; into a back room furnished with a round bed, faux-fur carpeting and a plexiglass Rhodes piano, where he played cuts by his new protege, the comely Bria Valente; and into that white limo, where the entirety of "Lotus Flower," the album previewed earlier this month on Indie 103.1, boomed through the speakers as we drove through Hollywood.

Needless to say, it was an amazing experience. After the jump, a few tidbits, including Prince's promise of three albums in 2009 and his thoughts on Proposition 8.

Prince will release not one, but three albums in the new year. He's in final negotiations with "a major retailer" to distribute the music in physical form, and a highly interactive website will also provide an opportunity to buy. He's not working with a record label. "The gatekeepers have to change," he said several times throughout the evening.

He's found his way back to the sound of "When Doves Cry." The first disc, tentatively titled "MPLSOUND," is an electro-flavored solo effort recorded at Paisley Park Studios. Prince experimented with Pro Tools and "new ways of recording" on these trippy, experimental pop songs. One features a Q-Tip rap; another calls a "Funky Congregation" to worship and may become a live set piece.

He's ready to revive the Quiet Storm. "We got sick of waiting for Sade to make a new album," he said, introducing Valente's new album, "Elixir." The tracks are chill, with Valente's buttery voice melding with beats by Morris Hayes and Prince's guitar lines. Some are explicitly sexual. "This music is nasty, but it's not dirty," Prince said, explaining how sensual music fits in with his much-discussed faith -- he's a Jehovah's Witness. "There's no profanity. It isn't promoting promiscuity. She's singing about her lover, who could be her partner for life."

He loves his guitar. As the tracks played on Indie 103.1 indicated, "Lotus Flower" is rooted in the instrument. Prince said he refocused on his playing while performing live dates with the singer Tamar Davis in 2006; with the spotlight trained on someone else, he could fall back in love with solos and riffs. "Lotus Flower" is a varied album, featuring cuts recorded over the course of two years, but standout tracks include some heavy rockers -- especially the apocalyptic "Dreamer," which Prince said was partly inspired by the radical black comedian Dick Gregory.

He did not vote for Proposition 8. In fact, he didn't vote at all. "I didn't vote for Obama either," he explained. "Jehovah's Witnesses haven't voted for their whole inception." The controversy over a recent New Yorker "Talk of the Town" item, which Prince feels implied he supported the gay-marriage ban, has upset him. It's the first thing he wanted to discuss when the Web geeks had gone and we were alone. "I have friends that are gay and we study the Bible together," he said. He added that two sides fighting "only benefit the third person" who instigated the fight.

Read more about my night with Prince in the Jan. 11 Sunday Calendar.

-- Ann Powers

Photo of Prince at Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in 2008 by Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (127)

Most Jehovah Witnesses rail against homosexuality, so it wouldn't surprise me if he's anti-gay. This non-voting thing is the most absurd thing I've ever heard of, at least from this religion. They pay taxes, obey the laws, but don't want to have any sayso in how those things are created and administered. Makes no sense what so ever.

Is Prince a member of Jehovah's Witness? I am pretty disappointed about his "not voting" comment. I hope he is smarter than that. Can anyone convince me as to why one who not vote? Does he like George Bush?

George Bush wasn't running for president.

Awesome news! The 4 tracks we've heard so far are amazing and showcase his incredible guitar skills wrapped around great songs with classic Prince sounds and song structure.

Bring it on P! 2009 is gonna shine!!!

Sad.

The big difference between Jehovah's Witnesses and Christians is that the Watchtower Society's central core creed proclaims Jesus second coming in October 1914.
They sometimes try to obscure this failed prophecy,and say that he came 'invisibly'.Yes,all other Christains are awaiting Jesus return,the JW say he ALREADY came back in 1914 and is only working through their Watchtower society.

Jehovah's Witnesses have lost membership in all countries with major internet access because their false doctrines and harmful practices are exposed on the modern information superhighway.
The Watchtower is a truly Orwellian world.
--
Danny Haszard

I am an angnostic nontheist, but I have a sister and many family members who are Jehovah Witness. I'm also gay. They don't rail against me, or anyone, as Shag suggests. They try to follow the bible, and more than any other religion I know of, try to live and let live. Yes, they do come to your door and yes they do seek new members, but they take no political stance on any issue. I was shocked to learn my sister didn't vote or get involved in politics, but they have a reason for it. I'm not qualified to explain it here.

Instead of judging a group and assuming the worst, why not ask a Jehovah's Witness why they don't vote? Or celebrate birthdays? You must know one, at work, in your neighborhood. Start a converstation. Try to understand each other.

Ok so you don't vote. That doesn't get you off the hook with your gay fans, Prince! You have some serious fence mending to do if you ever want respect from so many fans which you have lost....

Can't wait !

Great news...if they will materialize ... Would be fun to have them three next year...bring on the funk/rock/pop....

Jehovah's witnesses believe that the only power should be given to God. They don't vote because that would be giving power to man. I'm not one myself, but I can respect the view.

I don't really care if you all get your rights to marry or not, i't's not my issue , but I do know Caroline Kennedy IS pro gay marriage, so you all might want to email Gov. Paterson and put some pressure on, never mind if you think she's qualified or not. She's given up enough for this county without choice already, and the way I see it YOU ALL NEED ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET TO SEE YOUR DREAMS REALIZED. Contact Paterson now! Good luck with your issue and happy new year.

OMGWTFXORZ I hate you for getting to do that. Also, I'm still mad at you for your review of his Irving Plaza show in 98. :)

When will this tiny, purple little talentless booger of a man put his jobooba's witness wings on and fly the #!($ off this planet for good?

He sucked 30 years ago, he sucks today. Let all the grandmas dance to something else like its 1999

The author manages to convey the awesomeness of the interview without providing anything substantive to support said awesomeness.

Sort of like reading the words of a teenage fan who is so star struck the most they can muster is "Prince. Awesome!"

Well, I won't ever get back the 5 minutes of my life wasted on this "awesomeness."

Thanks.

Nice article. Great info. You must be a very cool reporter, Ann. Kudos!

To understand as to why Jehovah witnesses don't vote or interfere with political issues you must put yourself into Jesus Christ "shoes" and the same goes as to why we obey government laws and pay taxes. You don't learn those issues by calling an 800 number or reading the headline in a newspaper; it takes time...........you don't have to agree with the biblical principles, but it will help you a lot just to understand them.

I started 2009 with this very interesting article, couldn't wish 4 a better start...thank u!! Looking 4ward 2 the new music...bring it on :-)

Not having enough passion to vote is the same as voting yes. Congrats, loser.

Nice Article..

HAPPY NEW YEAR - 2009


Right around the time 1992 he came out with
The Most Beautiful Girl in the World (Prince song).
"The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" is a song by Prince from his 1995 album The Gold Experience. It was his first release since changing his stage name ...

(Good song I bought it for a girl)

He was at the time considered to be a total off the wall he changed his name to some mystic enigma that nobody could pronounce if fact they called him 'the artist with the unpronounceable name" so when he flipped to Watchtower i was surprised that the WT would accept a very volatile celeb that could wreck worst than MJ

I think he will exit the Jehovah's Witnesses like Michael Jckson did,big news MJ fully converts to Islam changes his name.

I ENJOY PRINCE AS A MUSICAL GENIUS, HE CAN BELEIVE WHAT HE WANTS AND THAT IS ALRIGHT. HE IS THE KING OF ROCK

Get over it David.

Jehovah's Witnesses remain politically neutral in all of the world's affairs. They do not support wars, killing, political bantering or take political sides. They do, in fact follow laws rules and regulations that are required of them.

I love Prince, and think he is one of the true, very conscious creators of music. My only comment, and I don't mean this as a negative, but his guitar playing will never match the innovative style of Jimi Hendrix. There are/were only a handful of Black musical geniuses: Beethoven, Stevie Wonder, Charles Parker, John Coltrane, R Kelly (sometimes), Sammy Davis Jr., as the greatest complete entertainer ever, and the spirit unknown. I put Prince in that category. Prince is a one of a kind modern electrical innovator, a REAL musician, which is a fading art among young artists today. I wish he would create an album like 'Songs In The Key Of Life', or 'Kind of Blue', not withstanding 'Purple Rain', which may turn out to be his all-time classic. I just hope the commercialism and glitter do not erode his creativity.

Afrikan world musicologist

 
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