Like a bird without a song

On the face of it, there’s seemingly little to connect Prince Rogers Nelson, whose tragic death at the age of 57 occurred on Thursday, with the Seattle grunge scene. Funky, funny, sexy, sensual, soulful, playful, vibrant, colourful; these may not be words that necessarily first spring to mind when thinking about grunge. For those who want to party like it’s 1999, an Alice in Chains gig might not be everyone’s first port of call.


All of which is something of a straw man. Scratch the surface, and you’ll find striking parallels, not least in Prince sharing with the grungers an absolute commitment to the primacy of musical expression. Here are musicians who place their art above all else; searingly honest in their self-expression; who are quite happy to embroil themselves in disputes with record labels and ticket companies to defend their right to artistic expression and to treating their fans with respect. Musicians who ride the wave, wherever it takes them. All of which is without getting on to the shared musical influences, most obviously Seattle’s finest, Jimi Hendrix. And if you’ve never been to a Pearl Jam gig – shame on you – you’re missing out on a celebration of music, its vitality and its role as one of the healing art forms (to borrow from something Jeff Ament once said).

Embed from Getty Images

So, two more links in honour of Prince: one from Chris Cornell that I’d posted before in my review of Higher Truth (you can also read Cornell’s tribute to Prince here), and one I’d never heard before, Prince’s eloquent instrumental cover of ‘Even Flow’.


Peace. Spread the grunge love.

peace symbol

Postscript (24 April): Just remembered that Shawn Smith is a big Prince fan too, and played ‘Purple Rain’ at the Bush Hall gig last May.


About Mark Anstee

guitarist, Radio Seattle View all posts by Mark Anstee

Share, if it makes you sleep, if it sets you free, if it helps you breathe…

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