Thirty Years Ago Prince Made A Love Song That Is Still Adored Today (Audio)
Thirty years ago this week, Prince released Sign ‘O’ The Times, one of his most ambitious and acclaimed works in a catalog that is unrivaled. The double album was years in the making, having evolved from various other unreleased projects, such as Dream Factory and Crystal Ball. The double album showcased the myriad aspects of Prince that made him unique–political (“Sign ‘O’ The Times”), spiritual (“The Cross”), sensual (“It”), romantic (“Adore”), funky (“Housequake”), quirky (“Starfish & Coffee”), introspective (“If I Was Your Girlfriend”) and more. The album also showed off his numerous musical sides, from Rock to Funk to Soul to Jazz.
Just like walking into an ice cream shop, there were multiple flavors from which to choose on Sign ‘O’ The Times, with none being superior to the other. However, as is always the case, some flavors were more popular than others. Songs like “Starfish & Coffee” and “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” were the exotic offerings, musically off center and colored with stories that seemingly came out of left field. According to Susannah Melvoin (Wendy’s twin sister and Prince’s girlfriend during the making of the album), in an interview on Questlove Supreme, the former was inspired by a real-life girl named Cyntia Rose that Prince knew from school, who had autism. It was his way of interpreting the world through her eyes, one which might just include lunches with starfish, coffee, maple syrup and jam. And, according to his longtime engineer Susan Rogers, “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker,” a tale of a woman who helps a man work through some relationship issues, was inspired by a dream Prince had, and was the first song he ever recorded at his legendary Paisley Park compound.
While there was arguably no vanilla on Sign ‘O’ The Times, there was definitely chocolate…sexual chocolate, to be exact. It came in the form of the album’s closer, “Adore.” Over the years, Prince became legendary for his love songs. Records like “Do Me Baby,” “International Lover,” “The Beautiful Ones,” and “Scandalous” are responsible for more than a few lives on this earth. “Adore,” however, was the pinnacle. The song was part love song, part seduction, part pledge and part plea. It is suitable for both weddings and bedrooms, and has been the soundtrack for actual proposals.
“Adore” showcases Prince at the height of his powers on a number of levels. The songwriting is other worldly. From the outset, the song is the ultimate declaration of love “Until the end of time/I’ll be there for you/You own my heart and mind/I truly adore you/If God one day stroke me blind/Your beauty I’d still see/Love is to weak to define/Just what you mean to me.” Prince sings of an ethereal love, one in which when he’s making love, he only hears “Heavenly angels crying up above.” Yet, he also balances that with humor as he boasts that he loves his mate so much, she could burn up his clothes and smash up his ride (“well, maybe not the ride”).
The lyrics are just one aspect of what makes the song great, though. Prince also flexes his ferocious vocal prowess, showcasing both his one of a kind falsetto and, toward the end of the song, his guttural growl. The arrangement and instrumentation are also key, as he goes to church with the organ and horns.
As is the case with the finest songs, “Adore” stands the test of time, sounding just as fresh and relevant today, as it did 30 years ago. And, in a poetic and bittersweet way, Prince’s last lines in the song sound like the ultimate declaration of love to his fans: “For all time I am with you, you are with me (until the end of time). You are with me. You are with me.”