Prince’s songs were always works in progress — he rarely played one exactly the same way twice in concert, and as more of the music from his vast vault has been released in recent years, it’s become clear that many of his songs underwent multiple, drastically different iterations before they were released, if they were released at all.
A case in point is “Forever in My Life,” from his classic 1987 album “Sign O’ the Times,” which gets an massive-ultra-deluxe reissue — the biggest edition has 63 unreleased songs and two full concerts — on Sept. 25. The album version is almost entirely electronic rhythm and multi-tracked vocals, pulsating and romantic but slightly haunting, too. By contrast, the live version featured in the 1987 “Sign O’ the Times” concert film has the same rhythm but features Prince rocking hard on acoustic guitar while his massed bandmembers sing background and play percussion.
And the original version of the song, released today, is also totally different, with a more traditional R&B arrangement with gentle guitars and keyboards, and chord changes you’d never even know were there in the other versions. It’s yet another example of how many different dimensions Prince could bring to a single song.
Quoted in the press release, Susannah Melvoin, Prince’s backing singer and fiancee at the time (who Variety interviewed extensively last year), says of the song’s generation on Aug. 8, 1986: “He had been up all night and he came upstairs. It was like 7:00 in the morning and he grabbed my hand and said ‘follow me’, and so I followed him downstairs. The sun was coming through the stained-glass windows and he pressed play, and that song came on and I looked at him and I got teary-eyed. And that was it. He didn’t have to say anything.”
In addition, today The Prince Estate launched the podcast miniseries “Prince: The Story of ‘Sign O’ The Times’.” Produced with 89.3 The Current, the miniseries marks the next chapter in the Official Prince Podcast feed and is being created by the same team that crafted the Webby Award-nominated podcast “Prince: The Story of 1999.” The first episode begins with the Revolution’s Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman as they reflect on this prolific period, with additional insights from engineer Susan Rogers and musicians Eric Leeds, Atlanta Bliss, Dr. Fink and BrownMark.
Listen to Episode 1: “It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night” here. Additional episodes will be released weekly.