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Miles Marshall Lewis: Prince and His Parisongs
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Prince and His Parisongs

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Just heard “Modernaire” by Dez Dickerson & the Modernaires over on, a song I’ve only known 30 seconds of for the past 28 years. For anyone not a Prince fanatic, Dez played guitar in homeboy’s band from 1979 to 1983, wrote music for The Time and Vanity 6, sang a line on “1999” and made a brief appearance in Purple Rain performing the never-released “Modernaire.” The track reminded me that I’ve been meaning to jot down some trivia linking Prince to the city of Paris for a while, so let’s get it over with.

Arguably, things went creatively downhill for Prince after 1987 and the Sign o’ the Times album. Without the foil of Wendy & Lisa and the rest of the Revolution post-86 (not to mention his reputed fiancée at the time, Wendy’s twin sister Susannah), he got more hermetic and less open to incorporating different influences into his sound, and what happened happened. I’m actually a fan of later work like The Gold Experience, that acoustic bonus CD to Crystal Ball entitled The Truth, even Batman. But imagine if Prince had settled in Paris after filming Under the Cherry Moon in the south of France, married Susannah (or, hell, Sheila E.) at 28, had some babies, kept the Revolution around and concentrated on his more open-minded European audience. Just something to make you go “hmmm.”

Here’s that checklist; please add tidbits that I’ve maybe forgotten:

  • The first line of “Sign o’ the Times”: “In France a skinny man died of a big disease with a little name…”
  • Prince used Controversy Music as the publishing company for most of his songs, but the instrumentals he wrote and performed pseudonymously as Madhouse circa 1986 were all copyrighted under Parisongs, as was all output from The Family (“The Screams of Passion,” etc.).
  • “It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night” from Sign o’ the Times was recorded live in Paris at Le Zénith.
  • “Girls & Boys” has that French lyric: “Vous êtes très belle, mama…”
  • The B-side to “Mountains,” the second single from Parade, was an instrumental with incredible drumming from Sheila E. entitled “Alexa de Paris.” (It’s criminal this wasn’t on The Hits/The B-sides.)
  • The “U Got the Look” video has Sheena Easton rolling through Paris while icons speed by in the background: the Eiffel Tower, the Moulin Rouge, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Egyptian obelisk at Invalides.
  • That lyric from 1985’s “Condition of the Heart”: “There was a girl in Paris whom he sent a letter to…”
By the way, Dez has a tell-all book out these days, My Time With Prince: Confessions of a Revolutionary.


Michael A. Gonzales at 7:03 AM on 03/13/08:

…can you translate the opening line of “do u lie?”

MML at 8:39 AM on 03/13/08:

“This movie blows. Do you think they’ll notice?”

“No, it can’t lose.”

MML at 9:54 AM on 03/13/08:

no, seriously mike, the french spoken intro to ‘do u lie’ from the ‘parade’ album is some little girl saying, ‘Les enfants qui mentent ne vont pas au paradis,’ which means, ‘the kids who lie don’t go to paradise.’

Danceelectric at 10:53 AM on 03/13/08:

Michael Jacksons kids are named: Paris and Prince 1 & 2,

Prince once had Paris Hilton to ‘sing’ on stage,

- sorry I could not come up with anything better………….

xenophobia2002 at 10:54 AM on 03/13/08:

like the first sentence of Sign “O” The Times is something to be proud of …….

BTW in U Got The Look video, Sheena Eastion is holding a Frankfurt concert ticket

There is also the song:

Tevin Campbell : Paris 1798430

McGee at 11:17 AM on 03/13/08:

“This song’s about a high-class model over in Paris, France”

“U just got back from Paris U probably went 2 buy some clothes”

“She laced him with a crib in Paris, he hipped her 2 the funk”

“And who could ever resist your accent from gay Paree”

“We’re all alone in a villa on the Riviera
That’s in France on the south side in case U cared”

“Germany, Paris, France We gettin’ stupid”

MML at 11:19 AM on 03/13/08:

you’re better than me, mcgee! i recognize your quotes from ‘cindy c’ and ‘sexy MF’, but not the others…

JooZt at 11:59 AM on 03/13/08:

Not Paris, but France:

This little hook went 2 Holland
This little hook went 2 France
This little hook went 2 London
And this little hook went 2…
Oh Lord!
Honey, don’t U ever try and breastfeed no baby

From The Time’s “If The Kid Can’t Make You Come”

JooZt at 3:33 PM on 03/13/08:

The other songs McGee mentions are: “It’s About That Walk”; “Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance”; “It’s Gonna Be Lonely” and “Jughead” BTW

Also “319” features a line in French “Un instant, je vous connecte”

MML at 4:25 PM on 03/13/08:

thanks joozt! i’d meant to mention “319” (great track). i went on vacation with my wife in the french alps last summer, and i flipped when they gave us room 319. she didn’t get it at all…

McGee at 6:13 PM on 03/13/08:

From Mayte’s “Child Of The Sun” album:

“Send me 2 Marbella, London, Paris 2
Send me all around the world and when I’m through
I ain’t seeing nothing cuz there ain’t no place like U”

From “Love Machine”:

“Shall we say we’re in Paris? (I don’t know)
Shall we say we’re in Rome? (We could)”

From Sheila E.‘s “The Belle Of St. Mark”:

“His Paris hair, it blows in the warm Parisian air
That blows whenever his Paris hair is there”

MML at 6:15 PM on 03/13/08:

yeah, kid, ‘the belle of st. mark’! that rotates in my ipod all the time; another line that didn’t come to me right away. keep ‘em comin!

Asentha at 8:24 PM on 03/13/08:

What about…

“They loved to kiss on the steps of Versailles” from Girls and Boys.

Not Paris, but isn’t that in France?

MML at 9:30 PM on 03/13/08:

haha! it is indeed, asentha. i drove down there 3 years ago and (of course) kissed my wife on the steps of versailles. had to go there.

NONSENSE at 7:40 AM on 03/14/08:

“It’s Gonna Be Lonely” from his 2nd self titled album has a reference to Paris

ChrisML at 8:49 PM on 03/14/08:

Yes. After Sign o’ the Times, every track didn’t seem as memorable. 3121 was cool but there is just something about The Revolution sound that does it for me. Funny, I was just listening to “It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night” before I read this.

MML at 10:48 AM on 03/15/08:

prince will always be a brilliant musician and my all-time personal favorite guitarist. his peak streak of hot albums is amazing: ‘dirty mind’ (1980) to at least ‘lovesexy’ (1988), though ‘graffiti bridge’, ‘emancipation’ and some others had spots of genius.

chris, the reason i liked the revolution is because of their new wave influences (prince could be almost like blondie at times, especially with stuff he wrote for the vanity 6 album), and they weeded out that sound after ‘around the world in a day.’ then the whole thing turned into more of a funk band (which was great too) rather than a rock band (which i probably preferred).

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