Yes, I'm still having thoughts about Prince, as well as following the thoughts of others.
The Ethical Conundrum of Watching Prince Clips Online
by Annie Zaleski is a conundrum I've also been struggling with.
Nothing Good Hides In Vaults by Dw. Dunphy is also something worth thinking about and is what I have in my mind now.
Here's my take on "The Vault" and Prince's careful curation of his music during his lifetime and how that should apply to the posthumous release of his unreleased music and projects. It shouldn't.
Does that sound callous and disrespectful of Prince? I suppose it will to many, but I don't mean it that way.
Death changes your image.
Do you believe that Kurt Cobain was trying to curate the image and message of the maudlin bootleg memorial t-shirts you can buy, like, anywhere?
And we already see it. At first, I was moved by all of the artists paying tribute to Prince at their concerts, but was I the only one who eventually found it tiresome that nearly all of them played "Purple Rain". Yeah, it's very famous and also has a nice mournful sound that makes it so tempting. Not to mention, unlike the rest of us, you might be on tour and busy and not quite as aware of how many other people have already done it. So, I get it.
I'm also certainly not complaining about Bruce Springsteen who got out there early with his, featuring an absolutely beautiful solo by Nils Lofgren.
But there is an extent that all of us, in that, are reframing his image in ways he can no longer maintain any control of.
Add to that, statements by Prince himself, such as quoted in Prince on his unreleased music: "I can hear five albums in my head right now." by Ross Raihala, "so much gets recorded that you don’t have time to compile everything.", suggests to me that he did have some interest getting this material to the public in some form at some time.
That's not to say I'm not concerned about a glut of second rate material being flooded onto the market to cash in. I think that would be a damn shame. I will agree with everyone saying that's the worst possible outcome.
Were I in charge of it, I'd start very light. Perhaps a nicely mastered version of his final concert, which has made the rounds in the days since his death. The article above suggests he was entertaining the idea already, which gives a good justification for its release.
I'd also look at projects that were completed or nearly completed. The Rebels album would be a good choice. Dream Factory, Camille and Crystal Ball all include different amounts of music for what would become Sign o' the Times and could, as such, be considered as a possible box set.
Obviously, I could go on fantasizing, but the point remains that there are projects that audiences are curious about, that Warner had accepted for release but then got pulled by Prince for reasons that suited the circumstances of the time that he did, but are frankly irrelevant now.
Let me make clear, I'd prefer to live in a world where Prince is alive and could control all of this himself. If that meant h
But, I don't think his legacy or his music is best served by keeping him defined by a specific vision of him that is already on the verge of calcifying. I can't imagine that there's a better way to keep that legacy fresh than by keeping people reminded what it is to hear a Prince song they've not heard before. Assuming there are great songs, as Prince repeatedly promised us, then this is a rich opportunity to celebrate his legacy and keep it alive.
No matter what, we don't get what Prince would have done. Making that the goal is a fool's game. I don't think that means we can't hope for an intelligent and considered release of this material, in a way that honors his spirit, as well as his music. I certainly hope the people who eventually take this responsibility will be able to do that.