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The Making of Prince’s Memoir

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 03, 2019

The Beautiful Ones, a memoir/autobiography/scrapbook by the artist forever after known as Prince, comes out next month. Prince wanted the tome to be “the biggest music book of all time”, a treasured object that would be “passed around from friend to friend”. The actual book is not that — Prince died in the early days of making it — but he had selected an editor/co-author to assist him. In a piece for the New Yorker, Dan Piepenbring recalls how he came to meet Prince and the early days of working with him on the book.

Behind his sphinxlike features, I could sense, there was an air of skepticism. I tried to calm my nerves by making as much eye contact as possible. Though his face was unlined and his skin glowed, there was a fleeting glassiness in his eyes. We spoke about diction. “Certain words don’t describe me,” he said. White critics bandied about terms that demonstrated a lack of awareness of who he was. “Alchemy” was one. When writers ascribed alchemical qualities to his music, they were ignoring the literal meaning of the word, the dark art of turning base metal into gold. He would never do something like that. He reserved a special disdain for the word “magical.” I’d used some version of it in my statement. “Funk is the opposite of magic,” he said. “Funk is about rules.”

The book, which includes “never-before-seen photos, original scrapbooks and lyric sheets, and the exquisite memoir he began writing before his tragic death”, comes out on October 29th — preorder here.