411: Wouldn’t You Love to Love Me

Unreleased (1976/1978) / Taja Sevelle (1987)
One of Prince’s first demo tracks, written for protégé number one, Sue Ann Carwell, and released eleven years later by Taja Sevelle. Various versions are in circulation but the high water mark is the five minute home studio recording from 1978 which has an indelible bassline so perfect you’d want it as a tattoo. This iteration is gentle but insistent, like a cat nudging your leg for attention, and the rubber-soled beat is a lot more resilient than Prince’s hushed vocals, which may be low in the mix because they’re a guide track or possibly because they predate the time he learnt how to project. Prince’s pre-For You producer Chris Moon has a story where he describes how the teen’s singing voice was initially so soft that to coax anything audible out he had the singer lie down on the floor in a dark room with only a microphone placed in his mouth for company. Seemingly a far cry from Do Me Baby‘s histrionics, although maybe, just maybe, the “empty room” sung about in that song was because this vocal-enhancing safe space was still on his mind. I’m now looking at perennial sound-check favourite Empty Room in a new light too. Anyway, back on topic. In 1986 Michael Jackson wanted to shun his wholesome, nice-guy image and sent the song, Bad to Prince, asking if his frenemy wanted to duet on it. Prince took offence at the opening words “your butt is mine” and instead offered him Wouldn’t You Love to Love Me in return. Michael turned it down, unsurprisingly considering the effeminate lyrics and his loss was Taja Sevelle’s and obscurity’s gain.