On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

The artist now called "Prince" again


“There’s only one religion. There’s order. You wear a burqa. There’s no choice. People are happy with that.”

That’s why the pop singer Prince likes traveling in Islamic countries, according to an interview this weekend in the British newspaper the Guardian. A burqa is a full-length veil concealing everything except the woman’s eyes.

Asked why he wears flamboyant outfits, he said recently he went out in public in ordinary clothing and nobody recognized him, so, he’s never going to dress “raggedy,” again.

The performer, whose real name is Prince Rogers Nelson, a few years ago forbade the press to call him by any name. Instead, he provided a stylized monogram-like symbol and said that was his name. So for a decade, the media called him “the artist formerly known as Prince.”

But things have changed. The 53-year-old has become a devout member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He said he refuses to sing many of his old hits, such as “Gett Off” which told of “23 positions in a one-night stand.”

In his exclusive interview with the British newspaper, Prince said: “It’s fun being in Islamic countries, to know there’s only one religion. There’s order. You wear a burqa. There’s no choice. People are happy with that.”

When asked about the fate of those unhappy with having no choice, he replied: “There are people who are unhappy with everything. There’s a dark side to everything.”

Of his new life as a Jehovah’s Witness, he told the Guardian: “I was anti-authoritarian, but at the same time I was a loving tyrant. You can’t be both. I had to learn what authority was. That’s what the Bible teaches. The Bible is a study guide for social interaction.

“If I go to a place where I don’t feel stressed and there’s no car alarms and airplanes overhead, then you understand what noise pollution is. Noise is a society that has no God, that has no glue. We can’t do what we want to do all the time. If you don’t have boundaries, what then?”

He told the Guardian that his distaste for the internet has not changed. He has long criticized anyone who posts his music or his image online. In 2007, his lawyers instructed a number of his fan clubs’ websites to remove all photographs and images related to his likeness.

He told the Guardian: “I don’t want to get up on a soapbox. My view of the world, you can debate that for ever. But I’m a musician. That’s what I do. And I also am music.”

Even though he’s been touring, Prince said that he doesn’t want to release a new album, even though he’s written lots of songs.

“The industry changed,” he said. “We made money before piracy was real crazy. Nobody’s making money now except phone companies, Apple and Google. I’m supposed to go to the White House to talk about copyright protection. It’s like the gold rush out there. Or a carjacking. There’s no boundaries. I’ve been in meetings and they’ll tell you, Prince, you don’t understand, it’s dog-eat-dog out there. So I’ll just hold off on recording.”

“I personally can’t stand digital music,” he told the Guardian. “You’re getting sound in bits. It affects a different place in your brain. When you play it back, you can’t feel anything. We’re analogue people, not digital.”

He criticized the organizers of this weekend’s music festival in Glastonbury, England, claiming that the annual rumors that he will play there are just an attempt to sell tickets.

“They use my name to sell the festival,” he said. “It’s illegal.”

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