*If I Was Your Girlfriend*
And together we'll stare into silence
And we'll try to imagine
what it looks like
Yeah, we'll try to imagine what,
what silence looks like
Yeah, we'll try to imagine what silence looks like
Yeah, we'll try
Sit here w/ me for 2 minutes & listen to this heart achingly gorgeous instrumental intro…
Try to imagine what silence looks like …
Try to imagine this amazing 2 minute segment from the NYE show forming the basis of an extended instrumental version on a 12”!
Imagine it as a late hours jam B4 the love songs for that last slow dance!
I wish the Deluxe had contained a 🤯10 min instrumental of this!
A perfect mirror to 💜 the A side:
If I Was Your Girlfriend (IIWYG).
One of the greatest & most complex songs of all time!
One of the best opening lines in tribute to IIWYG was from GQ:
Prince vs Everyone Else – [see thumbnail] 👇🏽
P would win again!
P would win every damn time!
“NOTHING” else came close to the ingenuity of IIWYG back then, well almost nothing, but more on that soon.
It was the 2nd single from SOTT but it didn’t cause an earthquake — like *Housequake* would have!
IIWYG just didn’t work back then because of the title & lyrics which alienated a large mass of people.
Aimed at Black Radio, it just didn’t compute as Susan Rogers told RBMA:
So IIWYG was a turn off in 1987 not just for Black Radio but for a lot of Radio & it killed SOTT’s momentum as it was the wrong single!
[it]…“stopped radio in its tracks. Homophobes misinterpreted the lyrics, and its charming eccentricity didn’t fit a format.”
Ironically, it is now regarded as one of P’s best songs.
If we could transplant modern society’s more progressive ways back to ‘87, the impact would have been different & IIWYG’s genius would’ve been celebrated & played across all radio.
*It was 20 years ahead of its time!*
IIWYG is P’s *Anima Anthem*!
Perhaps the greatest Anima Anthem of All Times.
It is also one of the earliest Neo Soul/Alternative R&B tracks – *Something in the Water* being it’s predecessor & the one that began it all!
P never did straightforward R&B, he gave it a twist.
*The Beautiful One’s* from Purple Rain & the track it replaced *Electric Intercourse* are both otherworldly R&B numbers that sound like they came from another planet.
*Condition of the 💜* is a pseudo classical R&B number which sounded like it had been created by God in Heaven
The twisted R&B acoustic folk of *Sometimes It Snows in April* showcases R&B with acoustic guitars which wasn’t that common (props to the Isley Brothers).
And IIWYG – a subverted futuristic R&B song that would singularly stand out in any time/era – Past, Present & Future.
One of the first things you notice is the grammatically incorrect title, it should be:
"If I ‘were’ Your Girlfriend" rather than "was."
So, in addition to subverting gender roles, IIWYG also subverts language & grammar!
For me, this track is the epitome of “Subversion”!
So onto the intro:
IIWYG opens with several consecutive samples:
*orchestral strings warming up
*an (Irish?) street vendor’s voice saying: — “Look at the bargains over here, ladies”
*a church organ playing
Mendelssohn’s ”Wedding March”(from a Midsummer Night’s Dream)
Then just before the drop, we’re greeted with an angelic dream-like montage – sounding like a vision of Angels descending from Heaven to Earth 👂🏽👇🏽
It’s a really peculiar & beguiling intro that throws you off course as to what’s to follow – another form of subversion!
Btw those samples for the Street Vendor & Wedding March are from 1960’s stock sounds which can be found here & include samples used on Pop Life from ATWIAD.
-New York Street Vendor
-Wedding March ( Recessional)
-Locker Room/Wrestling Match – Pop Life.
So next up – that infamous programmed LM-1 kicks in with the treated toms & that classic reverb snare clap 👏🏽 !
That snare 👏🏽 – instantly recognisable as a P sound!
Then that seductive melody.
The song has an intense & claustrophobic mood, reinforced by the minor tonality.
There’s a sparse arrangement of drums, bass & a haunting *We Can Fuck-like* synth hook line (which becomes the chorus) & the sped-up vox.
Let’s talk about those drums for a minute.
Sunset Sound have documented P’s use of the LM-1 & LM-2 — via studio work orders.
P’s use of the LM-1 was unprecedented, he made it his own.
The “M” in LM-1 probably stands for “Machine” but it’s never been confirmed.
Today I can confirm that the letter “M” in LM-1 stands for Minneapolis!
The Linn Minneapolis-1 ™️.
Please send out the Press Release!
So Roger Linn’s mate, Art Wood performed the 8-bit samples of real acoustic drums & percussion – must be the least credited musician in all of P’s work?
WTH are The Revolution whinging about – look at poor Art!
Today I knight you “Sir Art”!
Protector of the Purple Realm!
To think so many artists, New Wave/Synth Pop, were using that same drum machine beggars belief because none of them ever made the LM-1 sound the way of P’s Linn Minneapolis-1 ™️.
P’s drum programming created a ‘STANDARD’ beat for Hip Hop!.
P’s innovative use of the LM-1 came about via the way he used & mixed pedals with it – a method never envisioned by Roger Linn or poor Art.
Susan Rogers explained why P loved it:
"P liked it because on the back of it there were individual outputs for every individual sound
and there was a tuning knob for each individual sound. You could individually tune every drum that you wanted…. He liked to take a percussion mix that would come out of the output of those little faders and run it through his Boss effects pedals.”
On IIWYG, P detuned, pitched down & programmed the LM-1 & & used the the Boss BF-2 Flanger to change the LM-1's tone.
No-one else was using this genius & innovative method.
And can you believe this – the Boss BF-2 Flanger is what colour?
You guessed it – PURPLE!
Rogers added :
"Dialing in on the pedalboard —dialing in the sound for the percussion — was one of the tricks that he invented and that others copied in his work."
So there’s another subversion – that of a musical instrument!
He produced a sound from that machine that seemed to exist on another planet & nobody could quite reproduce that same sound or drum pattern.
Except for maybe James Mtume on “Juicy Fruit” which created 4 years earlier shares some similarities to IIWYG.
Take a listen:👂🏽👇🏽
Juicy Fruit has a LM-1 drum pattern that is similar [*not identical*] to the drum pattern on IIWYG.
The riddim is slightly different w/ a slight low tom roll being added to the existing riddim & the snare is tuned a tad lower.
The bass slap is also similar!
But the similarities don’t end there.
Conceptually, there R similarities too — Juicy Fruit is penned by a man channeling his “Anima”.
Here is Mtume embracing his “Anima” at least 4 years prior to P doing the same thing on IIWYG.
Ok, you’re thinking – UMB, WTF is an *Anima*?
So let’s just clarify “Anima” –
Psychologist Carl Jung’s term for the feminine part of a man’s personality.
“Machismo can be thrilling to women but a fully integrated man who embraces his female side & thus understands women on a deep level can also be thrilling.” – @Toure
So get it — Anima is the feminine part of a man’s personality.
“most men have a problem embracing their femininity. You have masculinity & femininity, women have it 2. My mother explained it 2 me. So, writing as a male from a female’s perspective, it’s very easy 4 me.”
Juicy Fruit was a massive club hit on R&B radio in the US & has become a staple hip hop sample – google it to see who has sampled it.
One thing that Mtume got wrong tho’ is when he spoke with Jimmy Jam about the LM-1 – he said *he* was the only one using it in R&B music in 83!!
Of course we know that to be untrue because P started using it in 82’ on Controversy when he featured it on Private Joy.
Props to @barron who posted this on his timeline 👇🏽
So is it possible that P might have been inspired by the drum pattern & conceptual POV of Juicy Fruit?
He MUST have been aware of it as it was a massive R&B hit in 83!
If he was inspired by it — he lent from it but made something completely new, different & more beautiful.
One major distinction between Juicy Fruit & IIWYG – former was sung by a woman whereas the latter was sung by P via his alter ego Camille who is male!
In the Lovesexy Tour program 32 years ago, P identified Camille as a *Boy* & thus a *He*.
@Toure on P’s anima:
“P maximized his sexual potential by wearing his anima on his sleeve. P’s connection with his anima was evidence of the depth of his relationships with women & proof that he was an expert on women because he was so in touch with the woman inside him.”
Camille inhabits P’s anima, his feminine side. P is not playing with gender roles, he is embracing his anima.
Camille adds a layer of complexity to IIWYG.
P is singing vicariously thru his alter ego Camille & in turn Camille is singing about being his female lover’s GF 🤯
Let’s move on from the intro.
– an eerie *Spooky Electric* melody creeps in
– a tight slappy bass emerges w/ the warbling & menacing Rhodes electronic Piano in the background
– then those *reverse strings*
– & finally that amazing & unique P falsetto vocal glides in!
D'Angelo marvelled at that bass saying:
'He (Prince) put a popping bass, on a love song”
The Camille falsetto which is artificially high-pitched was according to Simon Reynolds of Pitchfork: 👇🏽
“simply a technological expansion upon what Prince already did vocally: sing falsetto in the soul ‘n’ funk tradition of Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” where the “the sound of a woman coming from a man,”….
…as critic Michael Freedburg wrote, served “to demonstrate to his intended lover that he understands her fears & desires as if he were female himself.”
Not only rooted in tradition tho’ – it paved the way 2 the future – Frank Ocean, Miguel, Weeknd, D’ Angelo & many others.
Rogers on the creation of Camille’s voice:
“We did some things in a slightly high pitch – not double-speed – but a slightly high-pitched voice, & that would be Camille. I have 2 say that not all of that was achieved by vary-speeding the tape. We had a signal processor called👇🏽”
*The Publison Infernal Machine 90*
A rare 80’s machine w/ digital signal processor & sampler w/ pitch shifting/harmonizing capabilities w/ added bonus of delay, reverb sounds & reverse & loop samples. Users could change pitch w/o affecting time signature.
Now rare & expensive!
P used a myriad of vocal overdubs that:
“double & or echo words & phrases for emphasis. These voices are bizarre in pitch & tone, sometimes a higher harmony, sometimes a very low one, sometimes both, broken into a staccato, low in the mix, slowed down as to be warped.”
These slowed down backing harmonising vocals were completely unheard of at the time.
Ghostly & haunting like a dark spirit – sounds like Spooky Electric 2 me!
Camille’s alter ego & dark twin – Spooky Electric inhabits a deeper slowed down voice like he did on Bob George.
Camillle & Spooky are ONE & sometimes Camille can’t suppress Spooky’s presence.
It hasn’t been said B4 but I think the slowed down backing vocals are by Spooky Electric!
P did some of his darkest work around this era – “Others here with us” & “Dance w/ the Devil.”
There’s more than a hint of Jekyll & Hyde about this song – a poltergeist too 🤣
In addition to the sped up *Camille* & slowed down *Spooky Electric* vocals — Rogers also admitted a rare technical error that caused the vocal to distort on certain words: 👂🏽👇🏽
I’ll come onto the musical outro soon but first what about the song.
IIWYG was written during P’s break up with Susannah.
P had fired W&L a few weeks before he started this song & he deeply missed their friendship & is also lamenting the loss of his relationship with Susannah
It’s been speculated that he seemed to be envious of the closeness Susannah & Wendy shared.
And so there’s a possibility that IIWYG was about Susannah but P never confirmed it.
The likelihood of this being true is higher than it is for the Dream Factory ‘Album’.
Susannah herself said that P wanted to *twin off* with her to mirror the relationship she had with Wendy but that she couldn’t fulfil that *fantasy* for him.
Susannah had this to say on IIWYG:
P was a lonely person (see my ATWIAD 🧵).
Observing twins – Wendy & Susannah’s closeness, must have made him feel even lonelier.
P is longing for that deep *Wendy* intimacy w/ Susannah so he wouldn’t feel lonely anymore.
P is longing 4 that — Yellow Day!
Too much to unpack in the lyrics – can’t do justice to it here.
But briefly — the main appealing points.
P’s longing to share a deep intimacy with his lover is achieved by his own metamorphosis into multi-dimensional characters.
The characters are Camille, Spooky Electric & P also makes an appearance as himself.
P & co. inhabit 3 roles w/ differing personalities & w/ different levels of intimacy all at once.
Camille plays the roles of the Girlfriend & Best Friend.
Prince plays the role of the Male Lover.
Spooky Electric features only as the eerie & ghostly background vocals.
Each role has different levels of intimacy.
Let’s take a look at these differing levels of intimacy.
Camille – Girlfriend
As the GF, he is subverting cultural norms as men don’t usually want to be their lover’s GF.
This relationship entails a different & more platonic role which removes the sexual intimacy, passion & desire.
He lists the levels of intimacy he believes..
such a relationship entails:
-helping each with choice of clothing
-borrowing each other’s items,
-washing each other’s hair
-crying together during movies
All Stereotypical notions men have about *girl bonding* – 2 which they are rarely a party 2 as it defies cultural norms.
Camille – Best Friend
A different role to that of a GF or Male Lover as BF’s are there to pick up the pieces when their friend’s heart is broken or when they are going thru a rough patch.
This harks at a level of intimacy that is not usually found in the BoyF/GF relationship
Prince – Male Lover
The Male Lover first appears at the end of the first verse with the refrain:
“Hey hey, when I was your man”.
Here he subverts the platonic GF relationship by adding a sexual component/intimacy – a desire for reconciliation as a Male Lover.
In the Male Lover role, there’s a power & control dynamic at play too in the lines about:
– picking out her clothes
– not being helpless.
He tells her she has freedom of choice to pick out her clothes. But then he wants her to surrender that freedom & power & let him pick
out the clothes as this would prove her strength of bond to him – A kind of emotional blackmail.
"Would you run to me if somebody hurt you/Even if that somebody was me?"
In this, one of the most striking lines, he becomes a manipulator.
It can be taken as either kinda sweet or creepy.
The creepy take is the idea of ultimate control – bordering on being coercive — couple of examples:
*Isolation from family (Wendy) & friends
*control over where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear (“Big Tall Wall”)
But the more accepted interpretation of this line was clarified by P himself some 30 years later during the 🎹 & 🎤 2016 shows.
P sang IIWYG with the interpolation of Waiting in Vain by Bob Marley.
During the song P breaks to tell the story of “The Way We Were” Movie.
As you can hear ☝🏽P talks about the scene where Redford breaks up with Streisand & she goes home & the person she confides in about the break up via telephone is Redford himself.
P played the song with the scene of the movie as the backdrop 👇🏽
Within the Male Lover role there’s also a power dynamic as their relationship is not on a level playing field as is revealed by these lines:
“But I, I said I want to be all of the things you are to me (IIWYG)
Surely, surely you can see”
She has the upper hand & is in control – The Male Lover is giving much more to the relationship but it is not being fully reciprocated to the same level.
There’s an air of vulnerability & a longing for deeper intimacy.
Relationships can be like that!
This lack of reciprocity was also echoed in “Wally” — heard for the first time on the Deluxe release.
Wally (recorded Dec’ ‘86) has a mythical status about P’s break up with Susannah & the lyrics are revealing:
“She was the only one in the whole world that I could talk to.”
The Male Lover’s role changes again as he now becomes the seducer during the outro — This is P at his most *naked*.
The song’s tensions slowly build:
“The warbling synth of the coda rises & falls like a muted orgasmic echo as the Male Lover (P) now speaks directly to her.”
There’s a conversation going on between them but we don’t know if it’s a past convo or in real time — they both pose Q’s & A’s to each other during this section:
Can I see you?
I'll show you
Of course I'll undress in front of you
The spoken word of the outro has its genesis in the spoken word passages in songs like Automatic (1999), We Can Fuck (PR) & the Girl B side (ATWIAD).
The outro is all about achieving the level of intimacy that GF’s share but now he is saying it as the Male Lover, not as the GF.
This intimacy is not physical or sexual, it’s more powerful than that.
He runs thru a list of suggestive things — undressing & seeing her naked which she’d have no hesitation about were he her GF.
But because he is not her GF, she is less open about doing these things &
maybe self-conscious because it’s not on a platonic level — as it would otherwise be if he were her GF.
“He would often ask her (Susannah) to dance ballet 4 him & that’s why he says:
*For you, naked, I would dance ballet* She was embarrassed & wouldn’t do it for him.”
Susan Rogers commented on what she thought in some US cities might be the Black American Male view back in the 1980’s — of a man dancing a ballet naked.
It was seen as a subversion of that male role & of that black identity.
In this closing passage, as the Male Lover, he is not exerting the traditional masculine expression of sexuality but rather is seeking it through intimacy.
He wants to know:
*what will get her to feel sexually comfortable
*& exactly how she wishes to be sexually pleasured.
Remaining female focused — he offers a tickle war that’ll make her laugh & laugh.
He wants her to feel sexually comfortable w/ him so that he can give her oral stimulation — promising that he will do it well.
He’ll kiss her down there (v) where it counts & “drink every ounce”.
Then they’ll have lots of x's & o’s whilst he seductively whispers those immortal lines:
“I’ll hold u tight and hold u long & together we’ll stare into silence & we’ll try 2 imagine what it looks like.”
What does silence look like?
Susan Rogers thought the following 👇🏽
To me silence means being so completely comfortable with your lover — An emotional depth needs no words.
Love — is emitted & understood thru being so emotionally, spiritually, sexually & psychologically intertwined.
Silence is also usually most prevalent during Prayer 🙏🏽
So by inhabiting these multiple characters w/ different roles & levels of intimacy- P is trying to be everything that she needs – A man for all seasons!
P wants to be all the things:
*her GF’s are to her
*her Best F’s are to her
*a Male Lover would be to her
P wants her to be consumed by him so that she doesn’t need anyone else – just like that Redford character in the movie where he is the one Streisand runs to even when he caused the hurt.
It’s part of the God complex – he wants to be her salvation even if he is the sinner!
But it all feels a little suffocating hence the mood of the song mirrors exactly this — claustrophobia, minor tonality & an eeriness.
It’s a little unsettling & at times it makes you feel like shouting out ..
‘God, man! – give her some breathing space!’
But it’s a trait of loneliness & P can’t help it.
It’s not just a love song, it’s more about a man desperate to reach the deepest levels of intimacy on all fronts with his lover – by channeling his inner anima – so that she couldn’t possibly ever need anyone else.
Hence, from the same era – Big Tall Wall, Wally, FIML, Adore & IIWYG – a longing for a deep emotional attachment that seemed to be lost on poor P who had difficulty creating these deep bonds & attachments in real life!
But there’s another twist, another possible metamorphosis!
There’s also speculation the GF is a metamorphosis of Wendy — 2 attain that deep level of attachment 2 Susannah.
Wendy was the gateway to the level of intimacy that P sought with Susannah.
Could Spooky Electric be Wendy? Was Wendy the evil twin?
P & Susannah & Wendy as ONE 👇🏽
IIWYG contains references to bathing:
As the GF:
“Would u let me wash your hair?”
As the Male Lover:
“Would u let me give u a bath?”
Bathing & water are reoccurring themes in P’s work & highly rated real life experiences for him.
@Toure disclosed a 💣👇🏽- A MUST READ
There’s a litany of references to bathing & water in various P songs often used in reference to:
I have set out examples of these & the songs in the thumbnails below 👇🏽
IIWYG movie version is a straight up R&B number & for me whilst it’s still great, it loses the intimacy, claustrophobia & innovation of the studio version.
It starts off in a video montage with Cat on the phone asking:
Why is a wolf dressed as a lamb?
🎥 pans to P on stage as Camille – defined by that white (Big Bird) coat representing light.
As opposed to the black outfit he wore as Spooky Electric during Lovesexy – representing darkness.
The wind machine is on the go trying to keep the spirit of Spooky Electric at bay.
The intro is not played & so no samples of the orchestra, salesman, Mendelssohn or angelic choir — w/ really add atmosphere to the studio version.
The drum pattern is lost — the bass line is more prominent — the horns replace the lead synth line & the vocal is not in falsetto.
The best part is also missing – the spoken outro & instead P undresses on a heart shaped bed with Cat — at odds with the sentiment of the studio version & it also changes the ideology of the song as P achieves sexual intimacy from the POV of a lover – which is more calculated!
As U should have noted from the above — IIWYG is probably one of the most complex songs ever recorded.
So many layers to unpack that I feel I only touched the tip of the iceberg.
It’s more than just a song about P singing it as a woman – *it’s not that*
It’s more than just a song about P singing it as Camille – *there are 3 characters playing different roles w/varying degrees of intimacy*
It’s more than just a song about P singing it from a woman’s POV – *as there are feminine & masculine parts to it & ghostly parts too*
It’s a song that takes a completely different shape if interpreted thru a queer lens.
*a man singing it to another man
*a woman singing it to another woman
*a queer man/woman singing it to a straight man/woman who is the object of his/her/their obsession..
It’s a song that becomes even more complex when viewed thru a Transgender lens – that would make for a very interesting reading indeed.
It’s a song which would take a different turn again if viewed thru a bi-sexual lens or an asexual lens.
It’s more than just a song lamenting the end of relationship — it’s far more complex than that.
It embodies a longing for intimacy, a sense of loss & displays an air of vulnerability, loneliness, naked emotion & desperation.
All expressed in a slightly schizo’ way thru Camille
IIWYG is credited to Camille.
But P is on it (as the Male Lover) more than Camille & this is overlooked!
P is switching roles on IIWYG but it’s a song dominated by P’s presence.
P is deliberately subverting his own presence w/ the addition of Camille as the lead character!
As I said at the beginning, it’s a song that epitomises *Subversion*.
*grammar & language*
*the love song*
*P subverts his own presence*
It also subverts time too as it is rooted in the past, present & future.
The use of “was” your girlfriend & “would you remember” hint at the past.
Then he is also speaking about the present — “Sugar, do you know what I’m saying 2 U *this evening?*”
But then in the same verse he hints at the future —
“I want to be all of the things”
“Surely, surely you can see”
Then the spoken word outro at the end is also set in the future as he lists the things he’d like to do to her.
So there’s also a subversion of time & tenses.
It’s a song that could apply to any given situation.
I guess that is what makes it so complex & incomprehensible to some people.
But at the same time, it makes it universally accessible to so many others.
This song is DeeP……..Purple!
P’s longing for a “Yellow Day”!
Only a GENIUS could produce something beautiful & beguiling like this, it’s remarkable & feels humanly impossible but we have it!
P created it!
Perhaps it mirrors the different people & multiple personalities within him, all with varying degrees of emotional attachment.
To think he was in the studio creating this masterpiece 3 months after I first saw him live on the Parade Tour in August 1986 blows my mind 🤯
And to think 4 months later he was in my backyard, in my home city — Birmingham in mid- April ‘87 rehearsing for the SOTT Tour! 🤯
This studio version is THE DEFINITIVE version for me, nothing else comes close to it – not any live version or cover version (TLC).
This is it!
It encompasses everything I love about Prince:
* studio wizardry
* Innovative drum programming
* Musical innovation & excellence
* Weirdness, quirkyness & sexiness
* Damn dirtiness
* Lyrical brilliance
* Sparseness, space & melody
* Open mindedness
* Camille & Spooky Electric
* Sheer complexity
It’s one of my all time favourite tracks!
P won again!
If you enjoyed this thread, you can read it again.
Or if you want to get into the spirit of *Spooky Electric* you could try reading it backwards!
Because IIWYG sounds magnificent – even when played backwards!
Thanks to all the Purple Avengers for their participation in this series 💜
Special thanks 2 my buddy & co-host @EdgarKruize 4 the lyric thumbnails & photographic stills 💜
Thanks to all of you for checking in & if you stayed till the end of this long ass thread – well done 👏
Tomorrow the brilliant Professor @ehphd will take on “Strange Relationship” & no doubt he will make my thread seem like an amateur work in comparison.
Stay with us ‘till the end of time ‘💜💜
@EdgarKruize @CaseyRain @RhondaNicole_ @scottwoodssays @arrthurr @CasciTRitchie @TrickyKid2 @joemuggs @8minutesidle @Neo_Manifesto @Miss_EThompson @9T99art @PressRewindPod @ehphd @dmsrblog @bobbyfriction @polishedsolid @RichardCole_NOW