In baseball, there is the concept of the “five-tool player.” That’s a guy who can run, throw, field, hit and hit for power. Guys like Mike Trout and Willie Mays.
I would argue that Prince was one of popular music’s five-tool players. He was a top-notch songwriter, singer, performer, producer and a masterful musician. I didn’t love everything he did, but I loved that he did everything he did.
And, of course, when he put it all together, he was a great as anyone ever.
For example, “When You Were Mine,” which came so early in his career that he was still spelling “you” out as a full word, but was also a signpost towards the future.
That said, compared to his later music, it feels skeletal, like he was just adding enough instruments to flesh the song out: a jangling guitar here, a swirling keyboard there. All of these are in service of his call-and-response vocals, which turn the chorus into an absolute delight.
I know (I knowwwww)
That you’re going with another guy
I don’t care (don’t care)
‘Cause I love you, baby, that’s no lie
I love you more than I did when you were mine
Because of its great melody and relative simplicity, “When You Were Mine” became one of the earliest Prince songs that anyone covered as well as one of the Prince songs that was the most covered as well.
“When You Were Mine”
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