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kottke.org posts about prince

Prince gets his own Pantone color

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 15, 2017

Pantone Prince

It’s official: Prince and purple are together forever. The Pantone Color Institute has created “a standardized custom color” to honor Prince.

The (naturally) purple hue, represented by his “Love Symbol #2” was inspired by his custom-made Yamaha purple piano, which was originally scheduled to go on tour with the performer before his untimely passing at the age of 57. The color pays tribute to Prince’s indelible mark on music, art, fashion and culture.

Prince’s association with the color purple was galvanized in 1984 with the release of the film Purple Rain, along with its Academy Award-winning soundtrack featuring the eponymous song. While the spectrum of the color purple will still be used in respect to the “Purple One,” Love Symbol #2, will be the official color across the brand he left behind.

“The color purple was synonymous with who Prince was and will always be. This is an incredible way for his legacy to live on forever,” said Troy Carter, Entertainment Advisor to Prince’s Estate.

Not that many other people have their own custom Pantone color. In early 2016, The NY Post reported that Jay-Z and realty company CEO Sherry Chris had signature Pantone colors, a blue and pink respectively. (via @anildash)

Welcome to the only show in town

posted by Tim Carmody   Apr 21, 2017

achewood - only game in town.png
[From Achewood, by Chris Onstad]

It’s never good when someone calls you on the phone to tell you that someone you love has died. It’s like those scenes on TV shows where the police or the White House are rushing to notify the family of the deceased before the news breaks so that they don’t learn about it from the television.

I’ve had it happen for three people in my life who weren’t close friends or family members: George Carlin, Steve Jobs, and Prince. In each of those cases, someone heard the news first and thought of me. This may be the sweetest and most melancholy kind of kindness. Today, it’s been a year since Prince died.

Prince made music for as long as I was alive. His self-titled album, made when he was still a teenager, was released the week before I was born. My mother, who loved Prince as much as I did, listened to “I Wanna Be Your Lover” over and over again when I was in utero. Prince and his music were Facts of the Universe, like the ancient Greeks believed in Zeus and his thunderbolts.

The only star as big and bright was Michael Jackson, and you couldn’t go into your room and put on headphones to listen to Michael Jackson’s dirty songs where nobody else could listen. It was a different kind of intimacy and intensity.

Michael Jackson’s and Whitney Houston’s deaths felt different: a Kaddish for lost dreams in childhood, a renewed awareness of how fragile these larger-than-life figures always were. Lou Reed’s and David Bowie’s deaths felt different: mourning my teenage self, my teachers and heroes. Prince’s death was like losing the love of my life.

The web has an unusual and still-evolving relationship with death and mourning. People have always used it to memorialize people they loved, and to learn more about them. (One of my first contacts on the web was someone looking for information on a relative with my first and last name who went missing in action in Vietnam.)

But the systems of the web were slow to catch up. Social networks built to stalk college classmates only gradually learned how to deal with members’ deaths. Who owns or can access your virtual assets and information after you die?… It depends. The mechanisms we’ve built aren’t built for this. Hopes for the Singularity aside, there’s no disrupting death.

We are inventing new rituals of public mourning online. And when it comes to death, rituals may matter as much or more than network topologies and the law. In many ways, these rituals replace older ones we’ve lost. Grief once expressed in public via mourning clothes, black armbands, and semi-public funerals is now being hashed out on the web.

“I really believe that a lot of these social media mourning rituals are popping up because people aren’t able to mourn in public spaces the way that they used to,” says Candi Cann, an assistant professor at Baylor University and author of “Virtual Afterlives: Grieving the Dead in the Twenty-First Century.” “People have this need to be recognised as grievers.”

We can’t always be with family, scattered across countries and continents. We can’t always confide in old lovers, our relationships fraught and fractured. We can’t take off from work to curl up and cry in private without consequence. We can’t all make pilgrimages to leave votive offerings and memorabilia at the sites of death.

But we can tell friends and strangers how we feel. We can point them to the things this person made that changed our lives. We can let them know, friends and strangers both, that it is okay for them, for us, for all of us to feel, to mourn the person and what that person meant. To mourn the part of us that will never be the same without the other person’s presence exerting a magnetic pull on us from across the planet.

(With thanks to Anil Dash)

These David Bowie stamps are gorgeous

posted by Tim Carmody   Jan 30, 2017

bowie_stamps_00.jpg

The United Kingdom’s Royal Mail is releasing a limited edition of ten stamps honoring David Bowie, available on March 14 (although you can preorder now).

The images include Bowie in concert on the Ziggy Stardust tour of 1973; the famous zigzag lightning bolt across his face on the “Aladdin Sane” cover; and the covers of his “Heroes” (1977), “Let’s Dance” (1983) and “Earthling” (1997) albums. An image from Bowie’s final LP, “Blackstar,” released days before his death, is also part of the set…

The Royal Mail said that this will be the first time it has dedicated a full set of stamps to a single musician. Philip Parker, the stamp strategy manager at the Royal Mail, said in a statement that the stamp issue honored Bowie’s “many celebrated personas.”

He said: “For five decades David Bowie was at the forefront of contemporary culture, and has influenced successive generations of musicians, artists, designers and writers.”

I would love for the USPS to do something similar for Prince. I don’t know if we have any other stamps that honor royalty. (Besides maybe Wonder Woman.)

A long oral history of Prince

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 08, 2016

GQ talked to a bunch of people about Prince and came back with many stories — “ordinary and out there” — about the entertainer. Picked this excerpt pretty much at random:

Ian Boxill (engineer at Paisley Park, 2004-09): Even when he was dressed down, he’d dress like Prince: three-inch-tall flip-flops, or these heels with lights — they’d light up when he walked. That was his comfortable clothing. He had no pockets. You know, if you got people around that can carry phones and money for you, you can get away with that. No pockets and no watch. If he needed to use a phone he’d use my phone or a driver’s phone.

Hayes: We have a thing called Caribou Coffee in Minnesota, which is like Starbucks. He’d go over there, and he didn’t have any pockets. He didn’t have a wallet or any credit cards. He just had cash he’d carry in his hand-like, a $100 bill. And whoever took his order, they’d have a good day, ‘cause he’d buy his coffee drink and then just leave the whole hundred. He doesn’t wait for any change because he doesn’t have anywhere to put it.

Van Jones: He was very interested in the world. He wanted me to explain how the White House worked. He asked very detailed kind of foreign-policy questions. And then he’d ask, “Why doesn’t Obama just outlaw birthdays?” [laughs] I’m, like, “What?” He said, “I was hoping that Obama, as soon as he was elected, would get up and announce there’d be no more Christmas presents and no more birthdays — we’ve got too much to do.” I said, “Yeah, I don’t know if that would go over too well.”

(via who else?)

Prince, technology, the Great Migration, and US highway policy

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 05, 2016

At the EyeO Festival in June, Anil Dash did a talk about Prince, “immigration & migration, artistry & technology, grave injustices & profound triumphs”. The talk is an examination of the past century of American history through the lens of Dash’s family history and one of the world’s greatest artists…well worth the 55 minutes it takes to watch.

How Prince’s iconic symbol was designed

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 25, 2016

Prince Logo

Prince’s iconic symbol was originally designed by Martha Kurtz and Dale Hughes (based on an initial concept by Lizz Frey) for use in a 1992 music video and Hughes shared a bunch of the original files and thinking that went into its design.

The day before Prince was scheduled to view HDMG’s latest edit of the video, Mitch Monson (HDMG partner/video graphics artist) asked Martha and me if we could create an animated 3D logo to use as a close to the video…. by tomorrow.

Umm, okay, and what do you have to work with?

Well, we have these drawings that Lizz has been working on…

(via do I even need to tell you)

Prince, remembered in 11 songs you might not know he wrote

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2016

You’re probably aware of Sinead O’Conner’s Nothing Compares 2 U but The Bangles, MC Hammer, Chaka Khan, Stevie Nicks, and others also made use of songs written by Prince.

OMG Prince doing James Brown on stage with James Brown is SO GOOD

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2016

Prince rides in on the back of a bearded man at around the 2:05 mark, yes you read that right. I had never seen this clip before and when he really gets going on stage, I started clapping and yelling in my apartment. Glorious. (via David Remnick at the New Yorker, who is almost annoyingly good at blogging)

That time that Prince ditched Questlove in favor of Finding Nemo

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 20, 2016

Questlove tells some great stories — I’m partial to the one about Will Smith’s house — and this story about his attempt to DJ for Prince and how a Pixar movie intervened is top notch.

A cover of Radiohead’s Creep by Prince

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 07, 2015

Prince covered Radiohead’s Creep at the Coachella music festival in 2008. The video got yanked due to copyright infringement but it’s back up. For the moment anyway and perhaps forever…Prince’s Twitter account linked to it. (via @anildash (who else??))

Prince on SNL

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 02, 2014

Prince played Saturday Night Live last night at the request of host Chris Rock, doing one 8-minute medley of songs instead of two separate short performances during the show. Here’s the whole performance:

If Hulu isn’t working for you, try the video embed on Deadspin. A set list is available on Rdio and Spotify. (via @anildash)

When Sheila E. met Prince

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 24, 2014

From her recent memoir, Sheila E. recounts the first time she met Prince.

I never did make it down to the studio to meet “the kid,” but a few months later, in April 1978, I was at Leopold’s record store in Berkeley browsing through records when I looked up to see a new poster. It featured a beautiful young man with brown skin, a perfect Afro, and stunning green eyes. The word Prince was written in bold letters at the top. That was the guy Tom was talking about!

I found his album For You in the rack and immediately looked at the credits: “Produced, arranged, composed, and performed by Prince.”

The staff at the store, whom I’d known for years, let me take the poster home. Before I’d even listened to his record, I’d taped the poster above my waterbed. Then I lowered the needle onto the album on my record player, sat on the floor, and listened to it in its entirety. Tom was right. I immediately heard that funky rhythm guitar part he’d been talking about. It wasn’t only on one song, but the whole album. I stared up at the poster and told him, “I’m gonna meet you one day.”

(via @anildash, probably)

Prince’s Greatest Hits

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 22, 2014

This wonderfulness just popped up on Rdio: The Hits/The B-Sides 3 by Prince. (And here on Spotify.)

Three hours, forty-seven minutes, and six seconds of the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince’s best music, 56 songs in all.

Every Prince hairstyle from 1978 to 2013

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 07, 2014

For BEAT magazine, Gary Card drew an illustration of every hairstyle worn by Prince since 1978.

Prince's hair through the ages

How to make your own slow jams

posted by Tim Carmody   Aug 26, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, a slowed-down version of Dolly Parton’s classic ballad “Jolene” went viral. A lot of people who heard it loved it, a few people didn’t, but everyone seemed to agree that it was like listening to either an entirely new song or the same song again for the first time.

One of the things that’s eerie about this is that if you listen closely, everything is just a little bit out of tune. There’s conflicting information about exactly how much the track has been slowed. Some people have said that it’s simulating a 45 RPM record played at 33 1/3, which is certainly the most common way people who lived with record players heard popular songs at slower speeds. But that would actually be quite a bit slower and lower than this.

The other figure I’ve seen (forgive me for not citing everything, I’m typing as fast as I can) is “Jolene” has been slowed by 17 percent, which sounds about right and would explain why all the notes seem just a little bit sharp. Here’s the formula for slowing or speeding up a recording to shift the pitch but generally stay in tune:

(2 ^ (semitones change/12) - 1) *100 = Percent Change

So — as one does when procrastinating from remunerative work — I made an Excel spreadsheet.

If you want to drop two semitones, you shift the speed down by 12.2462 percent; drop three, you shift by 18.9207 percent, which significantly changes the track. To imitate a 45 RPM record played at 33 1/3, that’s about 25.926, but very few records still sound like something a person actually made at this speed. All of these slowdowns are interesting, even the ones that don’t work.

You can do all of them in the free/open-source audio processing app Audacity; it’s very fast and very easy. (If you want to get freaky, you can also use Audacity to change pitch without changing tempo, or vice versa, or to start out slow and go fast, and all manner of lesser and greater perversity.)

But after messing with Audacity for longer than was strictly necessary, I can tell you that some songs and transformations work out better than others, and they tend to be those that share a lot of the same characteristics as Jolene:

And so, here are some of the results:

I described this Prince track as sounding like the slowest, sultriest, funkiest Sylvester song you’ve ever heard.

Mazzy Star surprised me. I always thought Hope Sandoval’s vocals were gorgeous but a little warbly, which gave them character, but that’s almost entirely a production effect. When you slow it down, you can really hear how clean and sustained her notes are.

My Bloody Valentine is the best example of that fractal quality. You can slow it down almost indefinitely and it still sounds like My Bloody Valentine. At this rate, though, it really just turns Bilinda Butcher’s vocals into Kevin Shields’.

There’s more at my Soundcloud page, including The Breeders’ “Cannonball,” “House of Jealous Lovers,” Hot Chip’s “Over and Over,” Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks” (which I actually sped up), and more. (Finally, if slowing a track down and posting it online somehow breaks copyright, let me know and I’ll take them down.)

Update: Andy Baio tips me to a second remix of “Jolene” that slows down the track, but corrects the pitch. Sounds great.

Update 2: Here’s Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.” slowed from 127 BPM to 110 BPM, leaving the pitch as-is.

Questlove’s celebrity stories

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 22, 2011

I missed this last summer when it went around originally, but all of Questlove’s celebrity stories are collected here. I had to post it at the end of the day because if this is relevant to your interests, and I think it may be, it’s going to run roughshod over your productivity.

David Letterman

thing is…i know they brought me in for the freakish factor. but only dave bothered to ask me what do i do in real life….so when i told him he was shocked like “wait you are an established artist?” even funnier was the reference “so if this like us picking up george clintons bass player thinking we got a random freaky guy and we messed around and got an icon?”—-i was flattered and said “lets hope you still feel that way when its time for my album to come out”

I’m pretty sure the Eddie Murphy story features Prince, but it’s too long to even excerpt.

Phil Collins

i “organixed” the shit outta phil in 97 at the grammies when i told him some geek shit like you and stevie wonder are the best ride cymbal crashers in modern rock after bonham. i told him “do you know do you care” shows that example in his cymbal work. man i made his day with that one.

Here’s Quest talking about Will Smith’s house. So you know Questlove isn’t easily impressed, this is the same Will Smith whose house was recently featured on the cover of Architectural Digest.

I’m telling you, the whole site is gold. Read everything.

For more Questlove awesome, see his recent interview on Pitchfork. Read everything there, too. It’s great.

(Thanks, Keith)

Chicago Bears vs. Prince rematch at Super Bowl XLI

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 26, 2007

When the Chicago Bears take the field against the Indianapolis Colts in early February for Super Bowl XLI, a former foe of the Bears will be close at hand. A kottke.org reader writes:

The “Super Bowl Shuffle” earned The Chicago Bears a [1987] Grammy nomination for best Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance - Duo or Group. They lost to Prince and the Revolution’s “Kiss”.

Prince is headlining the halftime show at the Super Bowl this year. Will there be a battle of the bands at halftime between Prince and the ‘86 Bears? Come on, The Fridge needs the work! In the meantime, here’s the Super Bowl Shuffle music video:

Oh, the humanity. Kiss has held up much better. (thx, m)

Partying like it’s 1999

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 01, 1999

At 4 minutes ‘til midnight, they started playing Prince’s 1999, just like I had predicted. And I didn’t mind….even though I thought I would have. The dance floor was packed and everyone was jumping and swaying and screaming the words to the song.

“Gonna party like it’s 1999!”

Actually, it was probably the most fitting venue for the song, the very same First Avenue nightclub where Purple Rain was filmed and where Prince himself used to play.

I did a small piece for {fray}: my resolution for 1999.