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kottke.org posts about The Beautiful Ones

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.

The Beautiful Ones, a Forthcoming Memoir From Prince

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 24, 2019

The Beautiful Ones

Before his death in 2016, Prince had begun work on a memoir about his wonderfully creative life. The Beautiful Ones, due out in October 2019, will incorporate the 50 hand-written pages the artist had completed before he died, along with other writings, personal photos, and handwritten lyric sheets.

The Beautiful Ones is the story of how Prince became Prince — a first-person account of a kid absorbing the world around him and then creating a persona, an artistic vision, and a life, before the hits and fame that would come to define him. The book is told in four parts. The first is composed of the memoir he was writing before his tragic death, pages that brings us into Prince’s childhood world through his own lyrical prose. The second part takes us into Prince’s early years as a musician, before his first album released, through a scrapbook of Prince’s writing and photos. The third section shows us Prince’s evolution through candid images that take us up to the cusp of his greatest achievement, which we see in the book’s fourth section: his original handwritten treatment for Purple Rain — the final stage in Prince’s self-creation, as he retells the autobiography we’ve seen in the first three parts as a heroic journey.

The book is being produced in partnership with his estate, which is also behind the forthcoming Netflix documentary series about Prince directed by Ava DuVernay.

The project has the full cooperation of the late artist’s estate, which is providing with interviews, archival footage, photos and archive access. The multiple-part documentary will cover the artist’s entire life.

The book and documentary sound similar…I wonder if they’ll share a title?

Update: In an interview with the LA Times, DuVernay shares that she’s no longer working on the Prince documentary.

She does note she’s no longer working on Netflix’s multipart Prince documentary, saying she had “creative differences” with the company after working for a year on the project. “It just didn’t work out,” she says. “There’s a lot of beautiful material there. I wish them well.”