SOTT day 21: The Cross by @BobbyFriction

Day 21 of part 1 of the Sign “O” The Times themed #PrinceTwitterThread series: The Cross by @BobbyFriction.

💥PRINCE THREAD💥

'The Cross ✝️'

A reminder…

#PrinceTwitterThread
#SOTTDELUXE

"Black day, stormy night
No love, no hope in sight
Don't cry, he is coming
Don't die without knowing the cross"

Christmas Neon GIF by Nick

I'd first heard @prince 'When Doves Cry' just as I was coming of age (13 years old) and I felt like an interstellar force had hit me.

From that day on my life, my inner self & my view of the universe changed forever.

Prince Lets Go Crazy GIF

By 1986 I was 15 years old & ready to die 4 him. My entire waking life was spent thinking & talking about him…

…and my hours asleep were spent dreaming about him. Dreams full of colourful psychedelic visions & soundtracked by the PURPLE RAIN, ATWIAD & PARADE LPs

In 1986 (aged 15) I managed to get one ticket to see Prince at the 2nd night of his Parade Tour in London.

1st gig…..Parade Tour….aged 15….ALONE! FRONT ROW!

(A kind security guard said he'd take me to the front if I gave him my tour programme 🤷🏽‍♂️)

So by the time SOTT came out I had read every lyric, heard every track, could see messages in every bit of artwork & had convinced myself that Prince was either a Messiah of sorts or was proof of Gods existence.

I'm not ashamed to say in my quieter moments I thought he was GOD..

What was interesting to me when I first heard SOTT was just how sonically different it was!

Changes in how he recorded (wrote songs etc all stuff delved deeply into this year via books, interviews & these Prince threads) meant the album was a curve ball for me…

In fact the album was such a cacophony of influences and genres for the teenage me, such an opus of an artist truly in liberation mode, that I was both giddy with Purple excitement at the embarrassment of musical riches BUT also trying to find something familiar to hold on to.

Something familiar especially after the madness of Side 3 which for many of us Prince obsessives (at the time) was Prince literally bending what/who Prince was.

Think about it… U Got The Look, If I Was Your Girlfriend, Strange Relationship, ICNTTPOYM all in quick succession.

Then it feels like Prince suddenly rips through all the different Prince's required to make the album, throws off all the layered Prince's we've heard on the previous three sides…and suddenly he's there…the purest version of Prince.

The guitar starts…

"Black day, stormy night
No love, no hope in sight
Don't cry, he is coming
Don't die without knowing the cross
Ghettos to the left of us
Flowers to the right
There'll be bread for all of us
If we can just bear the cross"

Listen to his voice. Its completely unadorned. Completely him. No lens or idea or musical motif through which to experience him. It's his very soul talking within you.

Its what I'd wanted from the first time I heard him…a stripping away of Prince…to reveal Prince

*Indian Heritage side note.

The Eastern/Indian/Sitar riff played all the way through made it even easier for someone like me of South Asian Heritage to use this track as a personal prayer & meditation when I first became enamoured by the tune.

George Harrison Beatles GIF

The lyrics for the first half of the song are all within the Purple vernacular & worldview.

Part religious preacher, folk singer, Black American & Armageddon/Day Of Judgement believer.

Its a stripping down yet again of what Prince has said many times before but it's pure now.

As the song builds, as Prince sounds more earnest in his exhortations to repent, to find God, to realise its the only way to fix our problems, as the kick drum builds…

"We all have our problems
Some big, some are small
Soon all of our problems
Will be taken by the cross"

Neon Flickering GIF by Samm Henshaw

I remember as a UK born Sikh with many Prince fan friends who were Muslim, Hindu, Atheist etc feeling a particular sting with the last mention of all problems being taken by the cross.

I believed everything Prince had to say…wanted him as a Messiah BUT didnt want to convert!

The way I made sense of it in my head was The Cross was a symbol of God & I could pour whatever meaning I needed to into that symbol.

As a Sikh back then transferring meaning across religious symbols was how we were brought up so it was easy.

I thought b4 SOTT Prince was vaguely agnostic, not someone who believed in organised religion.

I thought he would find God through sex/relationships/hedonism.

When he referenced God lyrically, or even spoke with the Almighty (Temptation 1985) it felt like fun to me.

Anyway. Prince naming a song THE CROSS & directly telling us that soon all our problems would be taken by the THAT cross…and the song being at the time (IMO) Princes true singing voice & purest manifestation of him was a pretty big mind f**k!!!

Wtf Weird GIF

And then next…

…THE WALL OF GUITARS & RIFFS!

🎸🎸🎸🎸🎸🎸🎸✝️

Suddenly Prince in multi dimensional form is released & he's not even talking religion, sex or politics. He's actually just a vessel, a conduit for the universal energy…some of us might even say channeling God him/her/itself.

Watch this & you can see his higher consciousness!

Last video obvs from Lovesexy Tour a year after SOTT but it's one of my favourite live versions of THE CROSS as he's in full Gospel Preacher mode…

james brown preacher GIF

What I also really like about this 2nd half of the song is he's content with playing some pretty deep guitar notes/riffs & avoids his tendency to ALWAYS play a mindblowing squealing solo when he can.

Even the drums sound sparse yet solid with VERY simple beats.

WE LIKE!

Prince Thumbs Up GIF

As we move towards the end of the song we've gone from intimate pure & completely stripped down Prince thru to wall of guitar sound preacher Prince whilst channeling not just life in the here and now…but also life forever after too.💜

Its Prince's life & journey in one song.

I will always hear the real Prince in The Cross.

Its very telling for me that even though it's not the most played Prince song in my collection, and possibly not my favourite…the night Prince died 😢 it was the one song that finally broke me into pieces.

There are better qualified people who can explain how the song changed from THE CROSS into THE CHRIST over the years & how that all linked into his growing belief in the Jehovah Witness religion etc

For those who havent heard it yet heres THE CHRIST Live

The End.x ✝️

Prince Thank GIF

Originally tweeted by Bobby Friction (@bobbyfriction) on 30 October 2020.

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