What a fascinating career trajectory our man Prince had. On the 1992 track “My Name is Prince” he stated, “My name is Prince. I don’t wanna be king ’cause I’ve seen the top and it’s just a dream.” I’m not sure I believed him. Seems like he was still trying to reclaim the top. He spent years pulling stunts that kept him in the public eye. Whether he was doing them for publicity or just to piss off his record label can be argued. I’d say anyone who changes his name to an unpronounceable symbol and writes “SLAVE” on his face is at least partially doing it to get attention. When 1999’s Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic didn’t become the hit record people envisioned that’s when I believe things changed. 2001’s The Rainbow Children definitely was not an attempt to reclaim a spot at the top of the Billboard charts.
Then there’s 2002’s One Nite Alone… This is a criminally slept on album. In everyone’s defense, Prince didn’t exactly promote it. It was released exclusively to members of his NPG Music Club. If you were in the club you got a copy mailed to you. If you weren’t, it’s not like you could walk in to your local record store and grab a copy. Unless you were a hardcore Prince head in 2002 you probably weren’t aware that this record existed. It’s a damn shame, too. If you’re reading this and are intrigued by the thought of hearing this album, fear not. Of course, One Nite Alone… is available on every streaming service now and was recently made available on vinyl. I highly recommend the vinyl.
If you ever questioned why people like me call Prince a genius and a maestro, look no further than One Nite Alone… You’ve likely heard Prince the rock/funk/R&B God before, but this album is unlike anything he’d done before. He rolled a piano in to the atrium at Paisley Park and recorded a stripped down album. Just Prince at a piano singing. Yes, there is the occasional appearance of other instruments that were added – including the late, great John Blackwell on drums – but this album is just Prince and a piano. The decision to record in the atrium paid off. The audio on this album is stunning. A fun fact about this album: Prince’s doves – Divinity and Majesty – reside in the Paisley Park atrium and are credited on the album for “ambient singing.” In fact, you can hear one or both of them clearly at the end of today’s song, “U’re Gonna C Me.”
It’s difficult for me to call “U’re Gonna C Me” the second track on the album because the entire thing flows so nicely it has the feel of one 34 minute song. If I’m being picky, “U’re Gonna C Me” by itself is one of the weaker tracks on the album. It’s a mellow song about how he can’t sleep without his love interest by his side. He makes several references to her giving him “a page on his two-way” which dates a song that would be timeless otherwise.
I can’t find other ways to criticize “U’re Gonna C Me.” Whether or not you like the song and the entire One Nite Alone… album depends on your mood and what you’re looking for from Prince. If you dig a quiet album of beautiful piano and vocals then you’ll love this. If you prefer the funk or something heavier, this is definitely not for you. Since One Nite Alone… was released on vinyl it’s probably my go-to record. It’s not Prince’s best or most complicated music, but when you just wanna chill it’s tough to beat the vibe of Prince’s perfect combo of vocals and piano. If nothing else, it showcases Prince’s incredible versatility. The same guy who gave us nasty funk like “Head” and rock & roll like “Let’s Go Crazy” can also sit down at a piano give us a 34 minutes of serenity. Unfortunately, “U’re Gonna C Me” is not one of my favorite songs on the album, so I’m going to give it an unfair score. I can’t continually say it’s one of the weaker songs on the album and then give it an above average score. Don’t let that deter you from checking out the album because it’s an enjoyable listen.