About 1:30 pm Eastern Standard Time, I found out about the death of Prince via a bulletin which flashed across my computer screen, and I immediately turned on CNN. Then I just went "My golly...not again!" There are folks in my generation that have, up to today, been lamenting about all these singers such as David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Natalie Cole who have left this mortal coil this year. Now, we all have to say goodbye once more...shockingly so...to Prince.
I was a casual fan of Prince. I never went to any of his concerts, including the one that was held just last month here in Toronto, nor did I stalk out his house when he lived briefly in the tony Forest Hill neighbourhood in my hometown. However, his music was as much a part of the Western side of my musical awakening in the 1980s as the material provided by folks such as Pet Shop Boys, Madonna and Depeche Mode. I enjoyed "Little Red Corvette", "1999" and "Let's Go Crazy". And of course, there is "Purple Rain". One of my old university buddies would always listen to Prince in his dorm and try to emulate his dance moves there although not on the dance floor. My friend was confident but even he wouldn't be that daring; he wouldn't dare try to copy his hero in public.
Earlier today, I was trying to think of how I would be able to put in a tribute of sorts to Prince. So I searched online for any Japanese singer who could have been influenced by him but really couldn't find anybody and no one can still come to mind. However, whenever Prince and Japan pop up simultaneously in my brain, the only commonality comes in the form of singer-songwriter Kahoru Kohiruimaki（小比類巻かほる）. Prince helped write and produce a couple of her tracks on her 1989 album "Time The Motion" which I covered over two years ago. The two tracks are "Mind Bells" and "Bliss" but regrettably neither of them can be heard online.
Still, perhaps I can provide an oblique tribute of sorts through Kohhy's "Frontier" which was the title track from her 9th album in 1992. I have to admit sheepishly that I had completely forgotten about this particular song since whenever I think of "Frontier" the album, I always think about the first song, the funky "Control" and the spacy version of "Smile For Me". But listening to it again after so long, I've finally realized how smooth and comfortable this ballad is. Nope, it doesn't break the mold and it has nothing to do with Prince but the music is a reminder of how my R&B sounded back in my salad days. And ironically, that music was composed by another beloved singer-songwriter who left us as well this year, Maurice White from Earth Wind & Fire, along with Brenda Russell and Billy Young. Kohhy provided the lyrics. "Frontier" may have come out in the early 90s but its heart seems to belong in the early 80s. I've often thought that a lot of Japanese music was more than willing to delve into the melodies of the past.
And once again because of the passing of another singer from my youth, I'm looking back into the past.