Lady Cab Driver (Rearrange)

Lady Cab Driver (Rearrange)

(Featured Image: A real-life “Lady Cab Driver,” circa 1919; photo stolen from pastpictures.org.)

Of the 11 songs that would eventually make their way onto Prince’s fifth album, “Lady Cab Driver” appears to have had the longest gestation period. The song was completed at Sunset Sound on July 7, 1982, the day after “Moonbeam Levels”; but, as the recent deluxe edition of 1999 revealed, its seeds had been planted during a break in the Controversy tour over half a year earlier on December 8, 1981, in the form of a different song called “Rearrange.”

According to sessionologist Duane Tudahl in the Minneapolis Public Radio documentary The Story of 1999, “Rearrange” was long known to researchers by its title alone: “it was one of those songs that we’d heard existed, but I didn’t think it was actually a song,” he told host Andrea Swensson. “I thought it was just some shuffling of his stuff”–a studio note indicating a literal rearrangement of tapes. As it turned out, of course, it was real–though it was also little more than an admittedly funky sketch: a stark, mid-paced groove with a slick rhythm guitar hook similar to the Time track “The Stick.” Given this similarity–not to mention Prince’s guitar solo, which plays neatly to Jesse Johnson’s combustive style–it seems likely that “Rearrange” was at least provisionally mooted for that group. But this is just speculation; ultimately, says Tudahl, we “don’t know whether it was intended for 1999, whether he was searching for a voice for 1999, or whether he was saying, ‘I gotta record another Time album soon.’ But either way it was something that was not planned. He just thought, ‘I’m in the studio, I gotta record, I’m going to record. This is what I’m gonna do’” (Swensson 2019 Episode 2).

Continue reading “Lady Cab Driver (Rearrange)”

Press Rewind: “Horny Toad”

Press Rewind: “Horny Toad”

(Featured Image: An actual horny toad, a.k.a. the Texas Horned Lizard; photo stolen from the Dallas News.)

I was focused on finishing up my “Lady Cab Driver” post when it came out last week, so I’m a little late in sharing my latest appearance on Jason Breininger’s Press Rewind podcast, talking about one of my biggest guilty pleasure B-sides from 1982:

Press Rewind: “Horny Toad”

And speaking of 1982, there are only two official posts left before d / m / s / r leaves that year behind and moves into 1983! I was initially planning to go straight into “1999,” but I decided to take a short detour into “No Call U” first: partly because I already know “1999” is going to be a huge, time-consuming post to write, and partly because I think it will end up making a little more “narrative” sense. So you can expect “No Call U” at the end of the week on Patreon/late next week on the blog, with “1999” following at the beginning of February. I also may try and sneak a Patreon exclusive on one of the 1999 Super Deluxe bonus tracks in there, too. We’ll be starting in on the Purple Rain era before you know it! I’ve also got a few ideas cooking for the podcast relaunch, so stay tuned for that. Later!

Patreon Exclusive: Review – 1999 Super Deluxe

Patreon Exclusive: Review – 1999 Super Deluxe

(Featured Image: Cover art for the “Super Deluxe” edition of 1999; © Warner Bros./NPG Records.)

Hi, friends. It’s taking some time to fully shake off the cobwebs, but I’m feeling myself shift back into gear for the new year; I won’t commit to a date so I don’t have to apologize later, but “Lady Cab Driver” is coming soon. In the meantime, here’s another piece I had been planning to write at the end of last year–my thoughts on the new Super Deluxe edition of 1999. Since we’re all friends here (and since I’m over a month late), I went for less of a formal review and more of a reflection on my personal feelings about the release and the state of the Vault in general. Patrons can read it here:

Patreon Exclusive: Review – 1999 Super Deluxe

Speaking of patrons, thank you to Snax and Carlos Romero for supporting the blog and giving me some much-needed encouragement this week! Snax and Carlos bring us up to 20 patrons, which is honestly fantastic for my humble little project. More relevant for everyone reading this, they also brought the total monthly support up to $99–a mere dollar less than the threshold for me to start producing the d / m / s / r podcast again. That means that if just one person becomes a patron, the goal will be met! If that sounds like the kind of responsibility you’d like to have on your shoulders, you know what to do.

A Quick New Year’s Check-In

A Quick New Year’s Check-In

(Featured Image: Prince by Allen Beaulieu, 1980; photo from Prince: Before the Rain.)

Normally, I write my “state of the blog”-type posts in June, since that’s when dance / music / sex / romance celebrates its official anniversary. But I guess the new year has me in a reflective mood, and in any case my low level of activity in the last month or two probably begs some questions. So, here’s what’s going on with d / m / s / r, and what I at least hope you can look forward to in 2020.

Let me begin with my customary apologies for falling behind on my posting schedule; trust me when I say that I’m as tired of writing these as you probably are of reading them. Last month was, as I’ve mentioned both on the blog and on social media, a pretty lousy one for me on the health front; this, coupled with some end-of-year crunch at my day job and general holiday-season stress, heavily impacted my ability to write on my own time. When the dust finally settled and I had some time to myself, my initial plan was to try and catch up before the new year; but I quickly realized that I was burned out, and needed to actually let myself rest. I’m confident that this was the right decision, and that giving myself a vacation has allowed me to start 2020 off on the right foot. Those of you who are patrons, rest assured that I did not deduct any fees for this month, since I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain in December. While I reserve the right to do this again in the future, I do think things are now “back to normal,” and I will be able to deliver a full slate of content in January.

But what is “normal,” anyway? In the midst of my end-of-year burnout, it occurred to me to ask myself (as I have, albeit privately, before) why I was doing this, and whether it was worth continuing to do it. On the one hand, this is an easy question to answer. I started writing d / m / s / r because it was the kind of thing I personally wanted to read: an exhaustive, song-by-song evaluation of my favorite artist’s catalogue, telling the story of his music from beginning to end. Such a thing didn’t exist then, and still doesn’t now, because it is an absurdly huge task, and anyone with the talent and expertise to do it justice assuredly has better things to do. As for myself, I have never claimed to have either talent or expertise; only that I am stupid and stubborn enough to attempt it in the first place. The fact that there are people out there who actually want to read along while I roll this boulder up the hill remains a source of gratitude and humility.

At the same time, though…this is stupid, right? According to my WordPress dashboard, d / m / s / r got a total of 33,936 page views in 2019–which is great! It’s far and away the most popular project I’ve ever been involved in. But that’s also less than the 39,884 views it got in 2018, which was itself less than the 47,772 views it got in 2017. Don’t get me wrong: this has never been about page views for me. But I’m also aware that the Prince community is a small and crowded field, and I am far from the most popular (or qualified) voice in it. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that feels tempted to cede whatever territory I have to the many other smart, talented people out there writing, talking, presenting, and otherwise drawing attention to this important musical legacy.

For now, at least, you’re stuck with me–again, I am stupid and stubborn, and I still think I have something to contribute to this fast-growing field of “Princeology.” But I’m also afraid of stagnation. I know that what I do is a niche of a niche, and will never have the following of other projects in the same space; I made my peace with that around the same time that I decided it was a good idea to write text-heavy pieces about mostly obscure, 40-year-old pop songs. Yet I also know that I could be doing a lot more to grow my audience and make sure that I’m reaching the people who want to read text-heavy pieces about mostly obscure, 40-year-old pop songs–because I know that plenty of you weirdos exist, because after all, I’m one of ’em. I want to end 2020 in a much better place than I ended 2019, with more regular readers, more patrons, and most importantly, a steadier flow of high-quality content. If I can’t do that, then well, maybe it is time for me to cede the field to my smart and talented colleagues. But I’m pretty sure that I can. I hope you stick around this year so we can find out together.