Not too many people after my generation (give or take 5-10 years) will remember when music was pressed on to vinyl, let alone remember 45 rpm singles and their infamous B-Sides; so this article should very well have been written in a vacuum but here goes.
Ever since Prince passed away earlier this week, there has been more information about the artist’s accomplishments than ever in recent memory. Whether it’s streaming videos of sound bites, lost interviews and hyper links with titles like, Did you know that Prince did this? or Were you aware that Prince actually wrote these songs for other singers? Many of these facts about the man, I had indeed already known. When I was younger, I was obsessed with Prince, I had all of his albums, rushed out to see his movies, copied his style and etc.
He inspired me to learn more than one instrument and his accomplishments encouraged me to learn how to operate a multi track recording system. Over time my interests changed but I cannot really think of an artist that has had more of an impact on my life. When I learned that he had died, it occurred that he had nuances that not only changed the way we listened to music and the way that it was delivered, but had an effect on how we communicate to this day.
First was the B side-
I could be wrong but from my recollection Prince was the first recording artist that used the B-side of a 45 rpm record single to deliver new music to his listeners. Before that you would generally get maybe a live track from the bands previous albums but for the most part you’d get one of the filler tracks off of the album from which the single originated. Prince was the first musician to consistently press new music on the B-side of his hits. It was a trend that would catch on. After that many bands followed his lead and began putting otherwise unavailable tracks on the flip side of their hit singles and eventually would go on to be offered on box sets or stand alone albums generally named something like “B-Sides and hidden tracks.”
Once again this is an example of the purple one’s influence raising the bar in popular music.
How we communicate-
Another influence that has made a tremendous impact on the way that society communicates. These days it is commonplace to see people abbreviate words by using numbers and letters for example “you’ve got 2B kidding me” or “I’ll w8 4U.” Prince was doing that nearly 40 years B4 it became popular. Look at titles like I would die 4U, U got the look, and Nothing compares 2U. He was an extremely forward thinker that was light years ahead of his time and his influence will forever resonate with my generation and beyond.
My guess is that we will learn more about Prince now that he is gone than we knew about him when he was alive which is unfortunate. I realize that he preferred to lead a relatively private life, but it’s too bad that those in charge of his music distribution chose to siphon off his vigor to produce music and limit his exposure to a loving fan base while he was alive to experience it. Thank you Prince, it was a pleasure to share the planet with you for this short period of time, you will be remembered for a much longer time than you will be missed.