If you've been following along for a bit, you know I'm a huge Prince fan. I've seen him in concert twice and I have spent countless hours listening to his music. But after reading Toure's new book, I Would Die 4 U: How Prince Became an Icon, I go back to the music and I feel like I'm hearing it for the first time.
Let me be clear: I don't do celebrity biographies, with the exception of Tough without a Gun, the most recent book about Humphrey Bogart, and American Rose, a book about Gypsy Rose Lee that was almost as much stage and entertainment history as it was a straightforward biography. Luckily for me, Toure's book has a lot more to do with where the popularity and the magic of Prince come from and what his most important messages were.
I spent a lot of time listening to Prince on my iPod as maybe a sophomore in high school, in the backseat of my mom's car, almost sure my parents could hear the vulgar lyrics. Because while my parents didn't let anything with a parental advisory sticker come into the house and MTV was frowned upon, my cousin had slipped me The Hits/The B-sides, meaning I was listening to songs like "Head" nonstop. I ended up quoting "Let's Go Crazy" on my senior page in the high school yearbook. In the early days of this blog I wrote about Vanity/Apollonia 6. So just when I thought I knew everything it was to know about Prince--when I thought I'd gotten inside his "Dirty Mind", if you will--I read Toure's book and I was floored. It's a stunning book, an easy read even though every page is packed with research. Here's my feature. But I understand if you'd rather read the book instead.