Stones: Three C.J. Stone Stories

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But it's Purple Rain that was a crowning achievement, not only in Prince's career but for black life — or how blacks were perceived — in the Eighties. It's the equivalent of Michael Jordan's championship games: He was absolutely just in the zone, every shot was going in. Here's a song with no bass line in it, hardly any music. Yet it's still had such an influence; "When Doves Cry" is a precursor to the Neptunes' one-note funk grind, a masterpiece of song with just a drum machine and very little melody.

Purple Rain was a great movie too. Anyone who saw Eminem's biopic, 8 Mile , if they're over 35, the first words out of their mouth are, "Oh, I liked that film the first time I saw it back in the Eighties. It was this Prince movie called Purple Rain. Prince must be one of the most bootlegged artists of the rock era — on a weekly basis I listen to a bootleg called The Dream Factory , which would later be known as Sign 'O' the Times.

His ability to create on the spot is mind-boggling. Like a hip-hop MC freestyling, he executes ideas off the top of his head in a very convincing manner. But there must be at least 20 ways to prove that hip-hop is damn-near patterned after Prince, including his genius, blatant use of sexuality and the use of controversy as a way to get attention.

Stones: Three C.J. Stone Stories by Gerald So | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble®

I don't think any artist before had used that level of sex to get in the door and be accepted by the mainstream. I wonder what his mind state was in , standing onstage in kiddie briefs, leg warmers and high heels without a Number One hit. That was a risk. Also, Prince created the image of what we now know as the video ho — he was a pioneer of objectifying and empowering women at the same time.

Jay-Z often talks about ghostwriting for other artists; Prince is notorious for ghostwriting. Not only that, but he invented different aliases for himself in a way that rappers have adopted — he was Jamie Starr, Joey Coco or Alexander Nevermind. I met Prince in , and I was prepared for the grasshopper voice, the one that he always uses at award shows, but he was totally normal. Just like you and me, except he's Prince. We played together a few times, and one of my hero moments of all time is after a concert in New York when me, him and D'Angelo got onstage and played for about a half-hour.

His period of silence about a decade ago bothered me.

CJ Stone's Britain: a series of columns for the Guardian Weekend

It was really a shame that his fight for independence from the labels was a David and Goliath battle that he had to fight alone. But judging from what he's done lately, I'm happy to say that he hasn't lost a step in his 30 years of doing it. He seems as young and as in charge as ever. He definitely seizes the moment.

In case a few people counted him out, he's got a few trump cards up his sleeve. Their look — ripped jeans, tight T-shirt, high-top sneakers, bowl haircut and black motorcycle jacket — was a cartoon version of rock's tough-guy ethos. When they first started, they played what they knew how to play, which wasn't much, and worked it to their advantage. They opted for speed rather than complexity, they aspired to be the Beach Boys, Alice Cooper and the Bay City Rollers, and their rotational three chords and headlong lunge kept them skidding through the simpleton catchphrases of their singalongs.

The Ramones were pure, unadulterated — and hardly adult in their adolescent concerns of sniffing glue and beating on brats with a baseball bat, even if the brats were themselves. Their sibling rivalry meshed like any television reality show. Johnny was the stern older brother, disciplined, military; Dee Dee was the blunt instrument; Tommy was the producer who knew the record business, and like any good producer, knew that you build a great track from the drums out. Joey was the beating heart. The Ramones had their act so together that they would change it only in increments for two decades after they took it out of the CBGB nest in They were easily understood, translatable.

When the band got to England on Independence Day , returning the favor of the English Invasion in a fun-house mirror, it was a frontal assault on here-we-go-again pop subculture. The Ramones always believed in their music's message of self-deliverance. They affirmed that if they could do it, you could do it; just be resolute. Count to four. When I think of a Ramones moment, I remember not the early years — when the bands played for each other on the Bowery, and each was like a different world — but a late afternoon in May, somewhere in New England, a daylong festival, maybe the early Eighties.

They always had a simple melody, a hip set of chord changes and a cool groove. Even when Fats Domino did songs by somebody else, it was still Fats. He could really lock in with his band and play those hard-driving boogie shuffles — it was pre-funk stuff, and it was New Orleans, and he did it all his way. A couple of guys, like Allen Toussaint, could do Fats to a T, but with Fats, there was brothsome little different thing. He was like Thelonious Monk that way. They were a team.

Dave produced records perfect for Fats. He had the sense to go with the best-feeling take when they were recording. Later, they started doubling the bass line with the guitar, and it made for a very distinctive sound. That became standard with Phil Spector. You can hear a lot of Fats in Jerry Lee Lewis.

Say NO to Stones!

Anytime anybody plays a slow blues, the piano player will eventually get to something like Fats. Eighty kajillion little bands all through the South — we all had to play Fats Domino songs. Everybody, everywhere. Fats is old school to the max — he loved to work the house, do looooong shows and push the piano across the stage with his belly.

That innocence is there in his music. He just did what Fats did. I'd be curious to know how many pianos Jerry Lee Lewis has gone through in his lifetime. Whoever was responsible for keeping the piano in tune and making sure it didn't fall apart at Sun Studio must have wept every time he showed up to play. I don't know what switch got flipped in his brain when he was born that compelled him to play so fast and so hard, but I'm glad it got flipped.

Jimmy Swaggart supposedly said, "This is the devil's music! We have to leave! He was an evangelist for the devil's music. If you listen to his records, they sound more punk rock than just about anything any contemporary punk band is doing. His records sound faster than they actually are, and they sound louder than they actually are. If you listen to them on a crummy little stereo on low volume, they still sound like they're exploding out of the speakers. Their records all have a sense of abandon, like they had given up all hope of commercial success or ever being respected, so they just wanted to play crazy music and get laid.

If I had a daughter, I wouldn't let her date a musician, because most of them are just too dumb. In Jerry Lee's case, if he were coming over for dinner, I would literally lock her up. The story of him marrying his year-old cousin is unbearably sad. Elvis had just been drafted, Jerry Lee was about to tour England for the first time, and the scandal broke. He was never able to ascend to the throne that was rightfully his. And the piano faded because it was too big and too hard to mic. The beauty of the electric guitar is that it's small, portable, loud and easy to mic.

All through his songs there is a generosity and a willingness to portray even the simplest aspects of our lives in a dramatic and committed way. The first time I heard him play was at a small club, the Bitter End in New York, where he did a guest set.


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It was just an amazing display of lyrical prowess. I asked him where he was from, and he sort of grinned and said he was from New Jersey. The next time I saw him play it was with his band, the one with David Sancious in it. I'd never seen anybody do what he was doing: He would play acoustic guitar and dance all over the place, and the guitar wasn't plugged into anything.

CJ Stone - shining star (Moonrise Vocal Mix)

There wasn't this meticulous need to have every note heard. It filled that college gym with so much emotion that it didn't matter if you couldn't hear every note.


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  6. A year or so later I saw him play in L. There were these events built into the music. I went to see them the second night, and I guess I expected it to be the same thing, but it was completely different. It was obvious that they were drawing on a vocabulary. It was exhilarating, and at the bottom of it all there was all this joy and fun and a sense of brotherhood, of being outsiders who had tremendous power and a story to tell. Bruce has been unafraid to take on the tasks associated with growing up. He's a family man, with kids and the same values and concerns as working-class Americans.


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    It runs all through his work, the idea of finding that one person and making a life together. Look at "Rosalita": Her mother doesn't like him, her father doesn't like him, but he's coming for her. Or in "The River," where he gets Mary pregnant and for his 19th birthday he gets a union card and a wedding coat.

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    Kidney Stone Disease

    That night they go to the river and dive in. For those of us who are ambivalent about marriage, the struggle for love in a world of impermanence is summed up by the two of them diving into that river at night. Bruce's songs are filled with these images, but they aren't exclusively the images of working-class people. It just happens to be where he's from.