Porn Rock and the Origin of Explicit Labels

"Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" lable for porn rockOnce upon a time, music did not carry “Explicit” warning labels. Then something happened in 1985, one of those moral panics that periodically sweep the U.S. The panic in this case was “porn rock,” the nickname given to racy or violent music that became the subject of Congressional hearings. Tipper Gore, wife of Senator Al Gore, had bought her 11-year-old daughter the album “Purple Rain.” The movie and accompanying album by Prince had come out the year prior, both becoming mega hits. But when Tipper Gore heard the song “Darling Nikki,” which describes a woman masturbating to a magazine in a hotel lobby, she was appalled. Continue reading →

Prince Toronto home still reflects his personality

Entertainment Room at Prince's former Toronto homeThe home Prince once owned in Toronto still bears the imprint of his personality. This partly reflects Prince’s decorating tastes, but undoubtedly the house attracted him in the first place because of its design. Thematically suffused with circles and curves, the building gives the impression that Prince had the house built specifically for him. But, in fact, the house was built long before Prince even dreamed of owning property in Toronto. Half-moon bay windows jut out from the facade. A circular transom window perches above the entry door, where the ceiling arches over a rose compass that decorates the marble floor. A staircase spirals down to the lower level. Curved walls grace the master bedroom, entered through an arched doorway. A musical flow permeates the structure, like notes cascading down a waterfall. Continue reading →

Susan Rogers talks about Prince and music

Susan Rogers at Loop 2017Susan Rogers is a remarkable person. After a successful career as a music engineer and producer, she retired from the industry, using royalties from producing the Barenaked Ladies to become a scientist. She earned a doctorate in psychology from McGill University, studying music cognition and psychoacoustics, and currently teaches at Berklee College of Music. Prince fans know her through her work during the period that produced a series of amazing, famous albums. The opportunity came about by chance when Prince hired her as his audio technician during the making of Purple Rain. She rapidly transitioned to become his engineer, effectively taking part in the creation of music by one of the most significant musicians in our lifetime. In an engaging interview at Loop 2017, she addresses wide-ranging topics about music. Continue reading →

Paisley Park: lonely palace or insightful museum?

Paisley ParkPaisley Park stands beside a highway in a quiet suburb some distance from Minneapolis. If you’ve been living under a rock or are too young to know much, you might not know that this is where legendary musician Prince lived and made music, and where he died in April 2016. Prince was arguably the most gifted and accomplished musician in popular music of the 20th and early 21st century. Without doubt he can claim the title of most prolific. In 1987 he constructed the 65,000 square foot complex, named after one of his songs that described a place of “profound inner peace.” Reporter Amanda Petrusich visited Paisley Park and described her experience for The New Yorker (June 25, 2018). Seeking to better understand the enigmatic genius, she came away disappointed by the experience, which evoked the sensation “of being near Prince, but never quite with him.” Continue reading →