Once again, we find ourselves addressing the passing of a music icon – someone whose oeuvre is so big it’s quite difficult to start somewhere. Prince was very prolific during his lifetime: apart from 39 albums and the many singles in between, whether as a solo act or with his many backing bands, he also wrote and produced songs for other artists, often doing so under a different name. “If you give away an idea, you still own that idea,” he once said. “In fact, giving it away strengthens it. Why do people feel they have to take credit for everything they do? Ego, that’s the only reason.” On this installment of the Inventory, we look at five songs in which Prince had a hand on – all but two under a pseudonym, all varied, all interesting.
“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor | Of course, we start with this one. Unlike the rest of the songs on this list, Prince originally did this song for one of his side projects, The Family. (And it was recorded as planned: here’s that version.) Sinead would popularize this song, though, pushing it to the top of the charts in thirteen countries. Interestingly, Sinead claims she never quite got along with Prince; she even says they got into a scuffle. Anyway, end result is, she never got permission to do the cover, and now it’s pretty much her song. Like Prince is that bothered.
“Love Song” by Madonna | Prince got along with a lot of others, though. He had a hand in Madonna’s Like A Prayer, her iconic 1989 release. He played the guitar, uncredited, on three of the tracks, including the single “Like A Prayer”; he would get credit, however, for “Love Song”, which he also co-wrote. The song was recorded at Prince’s Paisley Park studios, but was written in two places, as Madonna admits she couldn’t stand Minneapolis. It’s the cold, apparently. But the song is a nice mish-mash of the two 80s icons’ styles, proof that Prince has really been flexible. Perhaps too much of a chameleon, as the next songs will prove.
“You’re My Love” by Kenny Rogers | Yes, Prince dabbled in country, too. Granted, this particular song sounds very much more like a soft rock hit from the 80s than the usual country sounds we have in mind. Under the pseudonym Joey CoCo, Prince wrote this track from Kenny’s 1986 album They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To. The next year, Prince – also as CoCo – wrote “Telepathy” for country star Deborah Allen. That one’s much more of a Prince track, coinciding with Deborah’s (successful) attempt to cross over to the pop market. In these cases, it looks like Prince’s chameleon tendencies is rubbing off on others.
“Sugar Walls” by Sheena Easton | Prince also wrote for Sheena Easton under Joey CoCo, but it was a song he penned under another name – Alexander Nevermind – that would get much popularity… and notoriety. “Sugar Walls” was from Sheena’s 1984 album A Private Heaven, and topped the American charts, although it failed to do well in her native United Kingdom. The “sugar walls” in the song refers to her vagina, simply. Subtle from the looks of it, but the music video wasn’t. Tipper Gore’s campaign for child-friendly songs under the auspices of the Parents Music Resource Center included “Sugar Walls” in its “Filthy Fifteen”, only second to another Prince song, “Darling Nikki”, the song that triggered the whole campaign in the first place.
“Manic Monday” by the Bangles | Finally, yes, Prince wrote “Manic Monday”, albeit under yet another pseudonym, Christopher. He originally wrote the song for Apollonia 6, a female trio under his wing, but later offered the song to the Bangles, who were rising in popularity at the time through songs like “Going Down to Liverpool” (a Katrina and the Waves cover, incidentally) and “Hero Takes A Fall”. “Manic Monday” was later included in the group’s 1986 release Different Light (also home to their biggest hit, “Walk Like An Egyptian”). The song peaked in second place on the Billboard Hot 100, only behind… well, Prince’s “Kiss”. Just as well. [NB]