Prince Jazzes It Up on ‘She Spoke 2 Me': 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.
In the mid-'90s, as the world was finally getting used to referring to him as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, he caused a bit of confusion by putting out an album under his given name, the soundtrack to Girl 6, a Spike Lee film about a phone sex operator. His rationale for doing so was simple: All of the songs had been recorded before the name change (although that wasn't correct. According to PrinceVault, "Girl 6," which was credited to the New Power Generation and featuring lyrics and production by "Prince," was recorded in December 1995).
And yet, Lee referred to him by his new name in the album's credits: "Many thanks 2 The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, U made a great sacrifice to make this happen. I love U and U will see the dawn."
Ten of the 13 songs on the CD had been previously released, but rather than provide a somewhat predictable assortment of hits, Prince used the opportunity to spotlight some b-sides and deep cuts, like "The Cross," "Erotic City" and "Girls & Boys." His work with the Family and Vanity 6 were represented in "The Screams of Passion" and "Nasty Girl."
The three new tracks were "Girl 6," "Don't Talk 2 Strangers" and "She Spoke 2 Me," the last of which was a breezy, jazzy groove that hailed from the 1991 sessions for the Love Symbol Album. An extended remix appeared on 1999's The Vault... Old Friends 4 Sale.
Lee met Prince on the set for Graffiti Bridge, and, a few years later, Lee directed the video for Diamonds & Pearls' "Money Don’t Matter 2Night,” in which Prince didn't appear. A year after Girl 6, Lee and Prince discussed the use of his music in the movie for the May 1997 issue of Interview.
"Some worked stronger than others, but overall, musically, I didn’t know what to expect," Prince said. "I was pleasantly surprised and I like the film for the style in which you did it. I’d never seen that done before. The scene at Coney Island, where you used 'How Come U Don’t Call Me Any More,' is my favorite scene. In fact it forced me to put that song back into our set. I said I would never play it again because I used to think I couldn’t do it better than I did with my band, the Revolution. But your film gave me newfound respect for the music."
He also spoke candidly about his decision to change his name. "Towards the end I was a little ashamed of what Prince had become," he said. "I really felt like a product, and then I started turning in work that reflected that. I had no problem with people saying I was repeating myself. I knew where I was headed and just needed direction. ... If you check the video for the song “Seven,” you will see Mayte and I walking through the doors hand-in-hand and the dove exploding. That was when I spiritually checked out of the whole situation; but I did what I had to do."
Hours after Prince's death was made public, Lee threw a party outside his Brooklyn office in celebration of his friend. For the past two years, for Prince's birthday in June, he repeated the event but with a bit more planning, similar to his annual Michael Jackson parties. Prince's music blared throughout the neighborhood, with purple hats, t-shirts and necklaces for sale. The festivities with a screening of the 1987 concert film, Sign O' the Times.