215: Solo

Come (1994)
The story of one of Prince’s most hauntingly beautiful creations starts with him seeing the play M. Butterfly. The Broadway show must have left an impression because five years later, when planning a musical, he asked the play’s writer David Henry Hwang to provide a script and to also compose a poem about loss. The musical never happened but a few days after receiving the poem, Solo was born. A version exists with the dream duo of Sonny T and Michael B on bass and drums, but why overegg the lily on the cake? Solo’s power lies in its minimal simplicity. Harps and thunderclaps – summoned by the words ‘angels’ and ‘rain’ respectively – help augment the vocals, but the track’s an acapella through and through. And having dismissed the band and outsourced the lyrics, Prince diverts all his creative energies into letting his voice craft a monument to melancholy. He glides over the vocal registers like they’re black ice. In an alternate universe, countless reality tv contestants are murdering this song instead of the gymnastic melisma of I Will Always Love You.