I’m sitting at my MacBook struggling to come up with an angle for today’s post about “Young and Beautiful.” I’m stumped. My 9-year-old daughter, Lucy, entered the room and noticed my frustration. She asked if I was writing. I told her that I was trying, but that I hadn’t actually written anything yet. She said, “What’s today’s song?” and then immediately noticed the title typed on the screen. As she heard it coming from the speakers she said, “Write that there’s too much piano. Also, why are there eggs in a basket?” Solid observations. This kid is good.
First, is there too much piano? I don’t think so. After all, the album cover states “solo piano and voice by Prince.” Not sure what she was expecting. I corrected her about the eggs that are actually in a nest, not a basket, and she was embarrassed. “You’re not going to write that, are you?” she asked. Yes. Yes I am. She’s referring to the album cover pictured above. Then she asked, “Is the Prince logo on fire?” No, the Prince logo is superimposed over a sunflower that’s growing out of a broken eggshell. We agreed that this makes even less sense than fire. I’m out of answers. She stumped me. I can’t explain the eggs or the sunflower. Can you? If so, message me.
Then she asked a fascinating question” “Do you think this is somebody’s favorite song in the world somewhere?” I should involve Lucy in my writing more often. There are 7.8 billion people on earth. There are many others who were alive when this song was released in 2002 who have since passed away. Eight billion is a lot of people for there not to be a single person out there who loves “Young and Beautiful” above all others. Still…what are the chances that it’s even a Prince fan’s favorite song? I mean, if you hear “Young and Beautiful” and “The Beautiful Ones” are you really picking “Young and Beautiful?” Even if you love Prince and have a soft spot for his obscure One Nite Alone… album is it possible that this is your favorite song? It’s not even close to being my favorite song on the album. After thinking about these things for a few seconds, against all odds I said to her, “No, I doubt this is anyone on Earth’s favorite song.” She said, “Not even Prince?” I said that I wouldn’t doubt that “Young and Beautiful” was Prince’s favorite song for one fleeting moment while he was recording it, but according to princevault.com he never even performed it live. If it was his favorite song I think he would’ve performed it at a concert.
Then the conversation went off the rails. She asked if her teacher would see this tomorrow and I said, “I doubt it,” although now I might send it to her… Finally a timer went off and she ran back to the bathroom to rinse out her hair, which she just dyed pink. With that, my 9-year-old muse exited the room, but not before giving me three paragraphs with which to work. Thank you, Lucy!
I just read this to Lucy and she clapped and yelled “GREAT!”
I could end this right now as it’s probably not going to get any better without Lucy’s assistance, but here goes. For those of you not familiar with Prince’s 2002 album One Nite Alone… it was recorded in the Paisley Park atrium in 2001. The album is almost entirely Prince alone at a piano with the exception of some other occasional instruments and sound effects. You can also hear Prince’s two pet doves Divinity and Majesty in the background. They lived in the atrium and witnessed the recording.
“Young and Beautiful” is the penultimate track on the album. It clocks in at a brief 2:44. It’s a light and upbeat number with a long intro. Then Prince chimes in with some very un-Prince-like vocals.
U’re so young and beautiful
U’re so full of life- everybody knows
That’s y they try 2 take advantage of u…
But u don’t have 2 do what the other ones do
U’re so cool- the world at ur feet,
They only want ur virginity
Keep ur clothes on and ur chastity
Until u find the one that’s worth it baby
This is the same cat that wrote “Head.” I give him credit for a positive message, but somehow the line “Keep your clothes on and your chastity,” makes my skin crawl more than, “You wouldn’t have stopped but I came on your wedding gown.” Not sure what that says about me, but seriously, listen to “Head.” Is it hypocrisy for the same guy who gave us so many nasty masterpieces to sing “Young and Beautiful?” I say no. Muhammad Ali said, “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” The dude is allowed to mature, right? Then I think about Lucy and realize that as the father of two daughters, I’d much rather picture Prince singing “Young and Beautiful” to them than “Head.”
So, while I’d personally rather listen to “Head” because it’s funky as hell, there is a place for songs like “Young and Beautiful.” It’s not even remotely close to being one of my favorite Prince songs, though. One Nite Alone… is an enjoyable album, but “Young and Beautiful” is a swing and a miss. If you’re looking for Prince songs with a positive message and better music he had plenty of it elsewhere. Start with 3121‘s far superior “Beautiful, Loved, and Blessed” instead.