Does my streak of consecutive days writing about Prince count if I post something at 9:00 PM CST? Hell yes it does! I try to post at 7:00 AM every day, but I have a good reason for missing that self-imposed deadline today. On Saturday my family and I decided to get out of the house and head over to Minnesota. While my wife and kids shopped at Mall of America, I drove southwest to a little town called Henderson. Henderson was the site of the “Lake Minnetonka” scenes in Purple Rain and earlier this summer they unveiled not only a Prince statue, but something called Prince’s Garden. I really had no idea what to expect. Here’s my experience:
First off, let me say that it was hot. 90 degrees, humid as hell, and not a cloud in the sky. I enjoyed my time alone listening to the the Pod Save America crew recap last week’s Democratic National Convention and watching rural southcentral Minnesota roll by. The drive was uneventful, although I did drive past a massive yellow building making audacious claims like “Largest Candy Store in Minnesota,” “Largest Puzzle Store in America,” and “Largest Soda Selection in the World.” I thought it looked like a place my kids might enjoy if we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic. Maybe next time.
Anyway, there’s a surprising mile-long descent in to Henderson when you enter from the east on State Highway 19. Once you arrive at the bottom of the hill and cross the Minnesota River you enter the kind of small town you see on TV. A main street six blocks long with old brick buildings. Shops and restaurants with large, inviting windows in front. As I drove in to town I realized that I hadn’t actually looked up exactly where in Henderson Prince’s Garden is located, but in a town of less than 1,000 people it wasn’t difficult to find. Toward the west end of Main Street you couldn’t miss the giant mural of Prince standing with a red corvette painted on the side of Henderson Healing Hub.
I parked my car around the corner on 6th Street and walked over to the garden. The statue stands at 5’2″ tall and was beautifully done. I signed the guestbook and read many of the entries. I sanitized the hell out of my hands. I read the plaque and wished I had known about it so I could’ve donated and gotten my name on it. I just sat and enjoyed the vibe for a few minutes. Then a combination of the heat and unusually large amount of bikers without masks congregating on the sidewalk let me know it was time to go. There were so many motorcycles parked along Main Street I was concerned I’d end up in a Pee Wee’s Big Adventure situation where I accidentally knocked down all of their bikes like dominoes. I didn’t feel like dancing for my life in a biker bar, so after ten minutes, I jetted. I was just glad I got to see the statue and pay my respect. I will go back to Henderson and enjoy a meal and a walk there another day when this pandemic is over and the weather is more tolerable.
When I got back to my car I looked up Electric Fetus, an amazing record store in Minneapolis, only to find out they’re closed on Sundays and Mondays right now during Covid. Glad I checked. Saved me a trip in to downtown Minneapolis. Next, I considered a drive past Paisley Park since it was not far out of my way back to Bloomington. However, there’s not really anything you can do at Paisley Park unless you’re taking a tour. I didn’t have time to take a tour, so I decided against stopping since I’m sure I’ll be back there again as well. A suggestion to the people at Paisley Park, though: Open up the gift shop to everyone, even those not taking the tour. I would’ve stopped and spent some money yesterday. If the gift shop is open to people that aren’t taking the tour, I stand corrected. It wasn’t immediately obvious on the website. Last time I was there we had to get past a guard gate just to get in the parking lot for our tour, so unless that’s changed, I wasn’t about to drive all that way to get stopped before I could even get near the building.
Instead, I went back to meet up with my family at Mall of America, which was a pleasant surprise. Four hours there and the only person I saw without a mask on was a toddler in a stroller. It was easy feeling comfortable in a place where we could stay away from other people and everyone was wearing a mask. We still weren’t comfortable eating a meal out, but I know they enjoyed the time walking around the mall feeling somewhat normal for a few hours.
Now I’m back at home in Eastern Wisconsin and I’m supposed to write about “Nagoya” today. Somehow this is already the third song I’ve had chosen from 2004’s live album C-Note. I’ve hit this topic before, but for those who missed “Tokyo” and “Osaka” let me briefly summarize: C-Note is an album of songs recorded during soundchecks before shows. The songs were released individually only for members of Prince’s NPG Music Club, but in March of 2004 the songs were combined in to an album called C-Note.
“Nagoya” was recorded prior to a November 29, 2002, show in Nagoya, Japan. Unlike the first two songs I reviewed from the album, “Nagoya” is nine minutes of funk. John Blackwell and Rhonda Smith put on a funk clinic on drums and bass guitar, respectively. Much of the song is extended and (intentionally) distorted Prince guitar solo, although there’s also a strong trombone solo courtesty of Greg Boyer.
I’ll sum up “Nagoya” the same way I sum up every song from C-Note. Even though these songs weren’t recorded together or even originally intended to be played together, it’s a great collection of instrumental music. An enjoyable 34 minutes. I wish the Prince Estate would press it on vinyl because it’s perfect music to drop a needle on and listen from start to finish. I apologize for the tardiness of this post. It still counts, though. 122 days in a row! Back in the morning with another one…