On Prince, Volcanologists, and Forsythe’s Ballets

Charlie Lee at The Paris Review:


There is a video of Prince that I can’t stop watching. It’s just over an hour long, shot in grainy black-and-white. It looks like a surveillance tape. This is Prince in 1982, before 1999, before Purple Rain and Sign “O” the Times, before there were stadiums packed with people demanding something from him. Three months earlier, he opened for the Rolling Stones, wearing thigh-high boots and bikini briefs, and got chased off stage by an audience throwing garbage. Now he’s playing in suburban New Jersey for a crowd of college kids who don’t know how to process what they’re witnessing. It’s one of the most miraculous things I’ve ever seen. 

The show starts in pulsing darkness, with an a capella gospel track. Above the choir we hear Prince clearly, his always startling baritone rolling up to a keening falsetto. “You’ve got to love your brother if you want to free your soul,” he sings.

more here.