Thursday, March 13, 2008filed under: dez dickerson, parisongs, prince
Just heard “Modernaire” by Dez Dickerson & the Modernaires over on imeem.com, 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…”