"Thieves in the Temple"
"Purple Rain," "1999" and "When Doves Cry" will be blasting out of little red Corvettes for centuries to come. But with this gallery, we want to look at Prince's less celebrated masterpieces.
"Thieves in the Temple," from "Purple Rain" sequel "Grafitti Bridge," was an understated, pained, different kind of song. But it was sinewy and mysterious and I've had it stuck in my head for about 25 years, so that's something.
"Annie Christian" is a Prince rarity in every sense, including the fact that it's terrifying. Listing a series of early '80s nightmares, Prince shouts through the refrain "Annie Christian/anti-Christ" before resolving where he started, with a declaration that "Annie Christian was a whore." Jesus Christ.
"The Ballad of Dorothy Parker"
This and the remaining songs are from the 1987 album "Sign O the Times," which to me is Prince's best: He lets his hair down, shares his dry wit, and cries a little. This one's a short story, named for a master of short stories. The song starts at 2:27 in the clip.
"Starfish and Coffee"
No matter what's happening in your life, this will cheer you up. With nothing to prove by "Sign O the Times," Prince let his guard down, and took us back to his unsurprisingly weird elementary school. (Or at least one in his imagination.) Remember that time he performed "Starfish and Coffee" with the Muppets? Me neither, until I came across this clip.
"I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man"
For my money, this is the best Prince song, period. A melancholy brush-off beautifully dressed up as a chivalric anthem, "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" is propulsive, beautiful, confusingly moving. The relationship begins and ends with the words in the chorus: All the selfishness and generosity that goes into love is all there in one rejection.
And that guitar solo.