Entry #1 Prince: Raspberry Beret

Only Feasible Starter

There is an extremely high chance that I’m going to die relatively soon. Like, probably tomorrow.

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OK, not probably tomorrow. Possibly tomorrow. OK, maybe not even ‘possibly’. Maybe tomorrow.

Alright, the chances of me dying tomorrow, or even in the upcoming days, are admittedly quite remote. But I could die any minute.

I mean, admittedly, we could all die at any minute of any day, such is the deliciously cruel randomness of life, but let’s face it- I’m far more likely to die a long time before you. I am a medical wreck; I take very few measures to protect my life; I have a dangerous curiosity when it comes to both legal and illegal substances and yet so blissfully unaware of my surroundings that the likelihood of me being hit by a bus or eaten by an escaped hyena* (that everyone else noticed was coming from miles away) are extremely high. This is all despite the fact that you so deserve to die before me! Come on, admit it- you’re a fucking waste of your disgustingly over extended skin!

(*Yeah, I know hyenas only generally feast on dead carcasses, but have you seen me lately? I’m sure they’ll take one look at my decrepit body and decide “Close enough”. Cheeky sods)

On Wednesday night, people broke into my flat and stole nearly everything I own (meaning I have sufficient lack of distractions to actually start writing this series). I live in a bedsit and was asleep in the same room in which they conducted their pilferings. They also stole my biggest kitchen knife and my razor blade, so perhaps it’s for the best I’m a deep sleeper and didn’t interrupt them. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to assume they will soon return to the scene of the crime to stab me to death with my own knives. I have calculated that there is a 78% chance that I’ll be dead by their hands in the next week.

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Plus, y’know, I’ve survived 2.5 suicide attempts, and 10-15% of people who have survived suicide attempts will eventually succeed in the future, and with my past that means there’s a good 25-37.5% chance that I’ll kill myself at some point. Scientifically, if you add the t, br and jm factors (Trump, Brexit, Jose Mourinho) then the chances I’ll kill myself on any given day are actually closer to 82%!

However, I no longer drink, so realistically the chances are probably closer to 0%. Maybe 0.6% until I replace my Playstation 4.

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No, life’s too good, and I have far too much to live for. If I killed myself, it’d be the people that I’m hurting, yeah? I owe it to Manchester’s refugee population, I’m pretty sure they look upon me as something of a God, and there’s no telling what losing me could do to them.

So, yeah, stabbed to death in my sleep is by far the most likely, but the point is I don’t know how much time I have left!!

I have long planned on this series- a catalogue of simply the greatest pieces of music that have ever been released. The music that proves that life is worth living, the music that shows the beautiful and inspiring potential of the human race. The music that is life. I need to formally collate all the songs that wrap knots in my stomach and make me wee with love, especially because I don’t believe anything similar has been done before. This won’t just be a list of the greatest songs ever, but a check list of mankind’s greatest artistic and emotional achievements. You need these songs in your life. Scrap that- your life is nothing without these songs. This series will continue until either the day I am brutally stabbed to death in my sleep, or when I have finally listed every single one of the greatest songs ever.

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Now- and I can’t help but feel I’ll be repeating this every entry- they are in no particular order! However, I appreciate the fact that most of the people who read my blog have the mental capacity of an aged papaya seed, so I thought it’d may as well start with what is very probably actually the greatest song ever.

Raspberry Beret is the perfect pop song. This list will probably lean toward songs released relatively recently, as I’m actually a believer in artistic evolution and that a rock song released in 2018 has much, much more chance of being wonderful than a rock song released in 1968. The 2018 song has 40 years worth of musical innovations and creations- it has no excuse not to be better than the 1968 song! Hell, it can be influenced by the 1968 song and freaking improve on it! I will be giving no points for historical context: the fact that George Formby’s Tooting Tom was the first song to utilise rhythmical flatulence does not automatically mean it is a better piece of work than, for example, Thunder by Imagine Dragons.

However, this is what I believe marks Prince out (and the reason that he is unlikely to only have one song on this list). There have been better rock songs released since the The Beatles and Led Zeppelin called it a day. There have been been better rap songs since Public Enemy and Tribe Called Quest were at their peak. There have been better examples of funny little men mumbling over acoustic guitars since Bob Dylan and- I dunno- Jack Johnson passed away. Prince, especially in the 80s, has occasionally been close to matched but never surpassed. This year there have been absolutely amazing pop albums released by Janelle Monae, Tove Stryke and my friend Christine and the Queens. All of them are indebted to the magical work Prince was able to do with the form. None of them contain songs that are equal to Him at his best.

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There’s nothing you could take away from or add to Raspberry Beret that could make it any better. It’s backed by a synth arrangement that’s easily the equal of any classical piece, possibly the greatest ever aural explanation of pure joy ever committed to human record. It’s Prince in the 80s, so the man has too many melodies and refrains buzzing around in His head to know what to do with, meaning Raspberry Beret has about a dozen of them laid over each other just in the musical backing before He even launches into the pristine melody of the chorus with one of the greatest opening verses in any pop song ever. The words by themselves may not carry much weight, but the lackadaisical and goshdarn joyous delivery ensures immortality:

I was working part-time in a five-a-dime

My boss was Mr McGhee

He told me several times that he didn’t like my kind

Because I was a bit too lei-sure-lee-hee

Prince very rarely chronicled- or even mentioned- the issues the colour of his skin might bring up, even this deeply implied. The fact he brushes it off here is both depressing and inspiring: people making judgements about him based on his skin colour is such a part of life it’s barely worth a mention, and not worth altering his mood.

Of course, ‘my kind’ is intentionally vague- maybe it’s young people, maybe it’s effeminate men, maybe it’s people from Minneapolis, maybe it’s people who insist on entering the store in an explosion of glitter and then spend the next five minutes dry humping the cereal boxes while wearing crotchless pants- because this is a song designed so that literally every human being can relate to it. We’ve all been ‘busy doing something close to nothing/No different than the day before’. We’ve all been awakened by seeing a special stranger who announces him/herself by doing something slightly different (‘she walked in through the out door’) and wearing a little something that, for reasons you can’t define, marks them out as someone special (‘She wore a raspberry beret/The kind you buy in a second hand store’).  And Prince is also one of the very few artists who can get away with a line as downright weird as ‘Built as she was/She had the nerve to ask me/If I planned to do her any harm’.

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Raspberry Beret lasts three minutes and thirty three seconds, and yet manages to spin a legitimate musical masterpiece with lyrics that perfectly skate the line between inanity and profundity.

The rain sounds so cool when it hits the barn roof
And the horses wonder who you are
Thunder drowns out what the lightning sees
You feel like a movie star

You know you’ve hit gold when even mishearing the lyrics doesn’t stop a band naming themselves after themRaspberry Beret is the sound of happiness. There are, admittedly, a few songs that are almost and equally as good. There has never been one better.

Right, let’s see how long it takes me to do #2…

3 thoughts on “Entry #1 Prince: Raspberry Beret

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