On what would have been the 60th Birthday of the Greatest Artist of All Time (yeah, I said it, with bass in my voice and careful emphasis on each word), Prince’s estate along with Warner Brothers announced the forthcoming live album Piano & A Microphone 1983, due to arrive later this year on September 21st.
As a present to us on his birthday, we get an early treat in the form of “Mary Don’t You Weep,” Prince’s take on a traditional gospel classic with over a century of history, that’s subsequently been recorded by everyone from Aretha Franklin to Bruce Springsteen.
Prince being Prince, his improvisation skills take the congregation down several different paths than any other version of this song you’ve heard before.
You might hear a hint of what later became the “How Come You Can’t Call Me Anymore” signature piano lick. The “I guess you know me well, I don’t like winter” lyric became the opening line of Sign O’ the Times’ “Strange Relationship.”
This completely unadorned performance, featuring only “your little man” and his baby grand, recorded live in studio sometime between 1999 (1982) and Purple Rain (1984) runs the musical gauntlet: jazz runs, blues chords, falsetto, baritone, howl and moan.
The recording dips into muffled bootleg-sounding territory before the two-minute mark for about fifteen seconds. That may grow tiresome upon repeated listens, but over the first few spins, only rachets up the tension for the return to crystal-clear clarity when Prince bellows “I got a bad, bad feeling, he ain’t comin’ home.”
It’s kinda funny to hear a man who could live anywhere yet chose to remain in the Minneapolis area he always called home proclaim, “I don’t like no snow, no winter, no cold.”
Even though he didn’t celebrate them while he was here:
Happy Birthday, Prince.
You’ll be forever loved and missed.
The world has definitely gotten a little chillier since you’ve been gone.