In honor of “17 Days,” the pensive B-side to “When Doves Cry,” I park in front of pillar 17 at the Mohegan Sun.The pink and blue sky—androgynous, I think—reflects in a wing-like section of the glass hotel.The hotel looks like a cubist abstraction of a skyscraper, or make that a block of skyscrapers fused together and exiled.
Its three incongruously named casinos—Casino of the Earth, Casino of the Sky, Casino of the Wind—contain nearly 6,000 slot machines and more than 300 gaming tables.
There are nightclubs, restaurants, a shopping mall, an indoor waterfall, and at least one man yelling into his phone that he’s “tapped out.” In a wide hallway leading to an arena, the song “Let’s Go Crazy” plays, heralding the opening of Prince’s three-night stand.
A group of middle-aged fans sings along sanely in anticipation. To avoid him, you needed first to be homeschooled in Wyoming and then to get serious about cutting yourself off. Few in pop history have matched Prince at doing so many things so well.
Thirty years ago, made Prince a movie star, or at least the star of an irresistibly schlocky semi-autobiographical film about the Kid, a suave but troubled young Minneapolis musician whose talent leads him to triumph over every obstacle laid in his path. The movie transformed him from a critical favorite and ascending radio and video star into a self-proclaimed messiah, a sales rival for Bruce Springsteen and Madonna, a rebellious foil for Michael Jackson, an arena-ready attraction who doubled as an avant-gardist. Often simultaneously celebratory and reflective, he has songs for your sad dance party and songs for your happy apocalypse.
His singing spans several octaves and styles, from new wave archness to gospel expressiveness.
Adept on keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums, he can produce perfectly realized records all alone or with the aid of a single engineer willing to work extremely long hours.
An iconoclast in black leg warmers and animal-print panties, he has challenged and indeed changed our ideas about race, sexuality, and animal-print panties.
+++++ Still, as I wait for the show to start, my excitement is tempered.
I’ve spent the last 25 years cherry-picking highlights from albums that could be ranked by the degree to which they disappoint.