Idol Chatter

Even in these trying times, there are many reasons why America is a great country. My favorite is that we are a land of constant reinvention–from personalities to politics, personas and platforms continue to evolve. The most recent case in point: Prince.

The musician once known for lyrics so sexually explicit that Tipper Gore founded the Parents Music Resource Center in reaction to them, will be taking a break after 21 London concerts slated for autumn to delve deeper into the Good Book.

The man whose first album was called “Dirty Mind” and had squeaky clean Sheena Easton singing about her “Sugar Walls,” told Reuters, “‘I just need to take some time off for study and travel.’ When asked what he was studying, he replied: ‘The Bible.'”

In fact, his Purpleness says that he’s been getting recent inspiration from “prophets from the Bible.”

For an artist known for mixing sex and spirituality–check out his 1988 album “LoveSexy”–it was quite a revelation when he told the New York Times in 2004 that, “I’ve always understood the two to be intertwined, sexuality and spirituality. That never changed. What became more clear-cut to me was the importance of monogamy. And that was in the Scriptures many years ago.

“The word sex has been turned into something so … it means so many things to so many different people,” he continued. “I don’t use it much anymore. It’s been sullied.”

In fact, that article described Prince’s Paisley Park recording studios as having a “Knowledge” room full of “books and pamphlets from the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” and “a Bible sitting open on a lectern.”

Sure, other recording artists have reinvented themselves with the help of religion (think Madonna and her Kabbalah or Russell Simmons and his Buddhism), but many times it comes across as a contrived conversion (think Madonna and her Kabbalah). But Prince has gone from lascivious funkster to a Golden Globe-winning composer (2006’s “Song of the Heart” from the film “Happy Feet”). And unlike Madonna, whose piece d’resistance of raunch was her “Sex” period, Prince was raunchy before it was fashionable. And now he’s righteous on and off the stage. Yet he has more fans than ever, in recent years being named the top concert draw in America.

Of course, this magnificently reinvented Prince still manages to provoke, even when he’s given up the curse words and casual sex references and says that an extended exegetical vacation is next on his “to do” list. At this year’s Super Bowl, in what may have been an homage to Indonesian shadow plays, Prince’s body and oddly shaped guitar melded together in relief to form what some viewers complained resembled a phallus. God bless America, the land of reinvention, revelation, and rock-n-roll!

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