Hear the Purple One’s original version for the first time.
In 1984, Prince recorded a song called “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which, rather than release it himself, he sent to Paul “St. Paul” Peterson of The Family. The band, which Prince had assembled, recorded the track for Prince’s label, Paisley Park Records, and it appeared on their debut album. But the song remained a largely unheard B-side until Sinead O’Connor covered it in 1990—a version that remains the best known recording of the song.
Even though Prince played the song live occasionally, the studio version that he originally recorded has never been heard—until Thursday, that is. Prince’s estate, along with Warner Bros. Records, has released the original version of “Nothing Compares 2 U” written, arranged, performed, and produced by Prince.
It was recorded by Susan Rogers in 1984 at the Flying Cloud Drive Warehouse in Minnesota. As Rogers tells the Guardian about the day Prince recorded the track:
Quote: “One day, he went into a room with a notebook and, within an hour, emerged with the lyrics to Nothing Compares 2 U. Rogers, who witnessed many such bursts of creativity, remembers, “The song came out like a sneeze.” As usual, she rolled the tapes as Prince laid down instrument after instrument, mixing and overdubbing in the same session (Eric Leeds overdubbed the sax part three days later).
According to Rogers, Prince didn’t want to release the track under his own name, because it was about a domestic life that he’d never had.”
Quote: “He wasn’t living with anyone, but he was a young man writing about domesticity,” Rogers says. “The line ‘all the flowers that you planted in my back yard went out and died’… it would have been Sandy who planted those flowers. ‘And I know that living with me baby is sometimes hard, but I’m willing to give it another try…’ There was no romantic relationship with Sandy. It’s not a pained ‘Help me, baby’ track. It’s: ‘You’re gone and I miss you,’ which is probably why he felt comfortable giving the song away to The Family. He released his material based on what he wanted us to know about him and, wonderful as it is, he didn’t want it to represent him.”
This original version will be released as two 7” vinyl singles in picture disc and black vinyl formats.
Most importantly, though, if this is an indication of what’s to come out of the thousands of Prince recordings hidden inside the vaults of Paisley Park, then there’s a lot more good music on the way.