Prince and Morris Day Make Learning Fun With ‘Cloreen Bacon Skin': 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Prince seemed to create new music at approximately the same pace at which he drew oxygen. So it’s no surprise that what started out as an impromptu two-man jam session / music lesson with Morris Day in March of 1983 suddenly turned into a fascinating, bizarre and funny 15-minute funk throwdown entitled “Cloreen Bacon Skin.”
This entire song – if you’d call it that – features Day on drums and Prince on bass and vocals, speaking in a comically affected voice and telling strange, disjointed stories about his ex-wife, Cloreen Bacon Skin. Without breaking character, he occasionally works in instructions about what Day should play: “Open the high hat, here we go / Rumbling, rumbling, yes / Keep that pocket, don’t get excited, come on..”
Above everything else, this is a rare glimpse into Prince’s creative process. According to PrinceVault, “Cloreen Bacon Skin” was recorded on March 27, 1983, at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, during a two-day break from the 1999 tour. (The previous day, Prince and Day recorded the future smash “Jungle Love.”)
After openly admitting that this was the song that needed the most explanation among all the newly released tracks on the 1998 rarities collection Crystal Ball, the album’s liner notes break it down like this:
“Prince would go into an alter ego voice that was sick, spirited, and highly percussive. …he was just looking for a funky beat to layer instruments on. The bass line was not important, so he just played the beat on the bass, so to speak. A new style of playing derived from this recording style, and several songs were cut in the same vibe – the coolest being ‘Irresistible Bitch.’ Only Prince and Morris were present on this recording. Everything you hear is impromptu… even the title was made up a split second before you hear it.”
“That’s what we did a lot,” Day explained to Diffuser. “He’d be on bass, I’d be on drums. and we’d start like that. That was just one of the songs that we did. I think it was a night after we’d been out clubbing. He was acting silly, we were just in that frame of mind, that’s kind of what we came up with. That’s how we came up with a lot of songs – ‘The Walk,’ ‘Cool’ and stuff like that.”
Fourteen years before “Cloreen Bacon Skin” was released, Prince and Day shared another small peak into their comedic rehearsal madness with “Tricky,” the b-side to the Time‘s “Ice Cream Castles” single. The fun starts with Day running some poor unfortunate “tossed-salad hairdo havin’” soul down in absolutely brutal fashion.
When the music kicks in – sounding very similar to portions of the bass and drum tracks from “Cloreen,” but with additional instruments this time – Prince takes his turn roasting the same “old Michelin Man” in even more blunt terms.
Of course, this glance behind the curtain makes one wonder about all the other unreleased treasures locked away in Prince’s fabled vaults. “I don’t know exactly what’s in there,” Day declared, “but I’m sure there’s a lot more bass and drum tracks from the two of us.”
He also expressed some concern about what would happen to all that music without its creator around to curate its release: “In a perfect world, I would hope that Prince was able to make that decision. But estates are about money, and so I think it will be handled without the integrity that he would have handled it with.”
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