“Forever in My Life” seems like a turning point in Prince’s storied career. It’s a shockingly simple love song. You’ve heard a thousand like it. He’s met the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with and he’s through with his old ways. He’s changed. In many ways this song was a signal that Prince’s old ways were behind him. This song couldn’t have appeared on his early albums. It’s a straightforward, earnest profession of love. It’s not funky. It’s not the least bit nasty. It’s contemplative. This is the same dude who sang “Darling Nikki” three years earlier.
The song itself is stripped down. Drums and background vocals throughout until the final 25 seconds when an acoustic guitar is added. It’s hard to stand out on 1987’s brilliant double album Sign O’ the Times and to be honest, this song gets lost in the shuffle for me.
Where “Forever In My Life” truly shines is in the seemingly-forgotten Sign O’ the Times concert film. For starters, the entire movie is incredible. This is arguably Prince at his creative apex. “Forever in My Life” gets the proper treatment in concert. Prince rocking the acoustic guitar. Everyone else in the band with some kind of percussion instrument. Drums, tambourines, cowbells. The background vocals courtesy of Boni Boyer and Sheila E. add soul to the song that isn’t necessarily present in the studio version. Prince clears the path for Boni Boyer to improvise an earth-shaking vocal solo. It’s moving. I’d love to have this version available on vinyl or just for streaming. Beautiful song.
But alas, we’re talking about the studio version of this song, which is lovely if not as moving as the live version. I’ll give the studio version 3 out of 5 stars.
Lastly, I just want to pay respect to Little Richard. Without him paving the way there likely wouldn’t be Prince or many other musicians we all love. Until yesterday he was one of the last remaining true pioneers in rock music. May he rest in peace.