It’s a milestone. We made it to 50 days in a row, y’all! I’ve written about 50 Prince songs since mid-April. Halfway to my original goal. 10% of the way to the ultimate goal…yikes. What other artist could you write about for 50 days in a row and think, “I’m only 10% of the way there?” Long live Prince! Let’s keep it going.
Prince was on top of the world in 1985. He was coming off of back-to-back platinum albums, a pile of Grammys and American Music Awards, an Academy Award, and a starring role in his own hit movie. Then he shocked the world by following up Purple Rain with Around the World in a Day. Around the World in a Day was such a creative left turn away from Purple Rain that a few million of the people who had made their way on to the bandwagon in recent years broke their ankles jumping back off. The fools that jumped off missed out on a brilliant album, but that’s their problem. Nowhere on Around the World in a Day is Prince’s creative change more obvious than the third track: “Condition of the Heart.”
After listening to thousands of albums in my life, I think I have a pretty good idea what to expect. While this isn’t always the case, you typically believe an album will come out of the gate with some energetic tracks for the first 3-4 songs to keep the listener interested. Around the World in a Day starts that way with the title track and “Paisley Park” opening the album, two high energy songs. The fourth track is “Raspberry Beret,” one of his most beloved classics. The third track is an all-time head scratcher. “Condition of the Heart.” A grand 6:48 ballad recorded in October of 1984 by Prince alone in Los Angeles while the rest of The Revolution were in Minneapolis rehearsing for the Purple Rain tour. It’s not that “Condition of the Heart” isn’t good. It’s actually a breathtakingly beautiful song. It just doesn’t fit. It seems out of sequence. Every other one of the first seven songs is uptempo and catchy. It should be at the back end of the album with the other songs that fit alongside it. Instead it’s oddly stuck in the middle of an absolutely incredible run of high energy stuff. It’s kind of jarring when you listen to them in sequence. I promise you’ll be thinking to yourself, “This is messed up. Someone put this on shuffle, right?” I would love to understand Prince’s reasoning for putting this song where he did on the album. Prince is well-known for the amount of thought he put in to the sequence of songs on his albums. I wish I knew what he was thinking here. Maybe he was just trying to mess with people like me who expect something more normal.
That said, “Condition of the Heart” is a stunning song. Just not necessarily what I’m looking for when I listen to Prince. I’m going to give it 2.5 out of 5 stars and admit with a fair amount of shame that I quite often skip this song to get to “Raspberry Beret,” “Tambourine,” “America,” and “Pop Life” when I’m listening to Around the World in a Day. He should’ve put this song at the end of the album.