Prince Celebrates Girl Power in Stomping, Youth-Fueled ‘FixUrLifeUp’
Always good for a put-down track, Prince shifted gears on "FixUrLifeUp" by stirring in a bit of hard-eyed feminism. Hanging around a brash trio of younger women – he dubbed them 3rdEyeGirl – clearly inspired him.
A “girl with a guitar is 12 times better than another crazy band of boys," Prince sings on the track, which arrived as his first official single with 3rdEyeGirl in May 2013. Emboldened by their time together, Prince makes it clear that he has no patience for guys who are "trying 2 be a star, when you're just another brick in the misogynistic wall of a noise."
Appropriately, he later recedes from the spotlight during a pair of simply molten turns by guitarist Donna Grantis and bassist Ida Nielsen. Released some 16 months before their debut collaborative album Plectrumelectrum, "FixUrLifeUp" heralded a new period of female empowerment within Prince's creative camp. It recalled his work with Wendy and Lisa in the Revolution, only turned way, way up.
“We're in the feminine aspect now," Prince told Rolling Stone in 2014. "That's where society is. You're gonna get a woman president soon. Men have gone as far as they can, right? I learn from women a lot quicker than I do from men."
The main thing Prince seemed to learn with 3rdEyeGirl – the trio was rounded out by drummer Hannah Ford Welton – was how to let go again. The initial sessions for Plectrumelectrum couldn't really be called sessions at all.
"We didn't even know we were recording an album," Welton said in 2014. "We'd just started jamming, and Prince was giving us lists of songs to work on daily. To remember the songs after cramming so much in to your brain, we'd record the rehearsals to have reference tracks to listen to while we weren't rehearsing – so that we could really internalize the music. We didn't know it was for an album for months."
Typically a studio recluse, Prince discovered a new vein of ideas within these rangy, informal jams. "It feels like I'm teaching at a school, but also a student at one," he told Rolling Stone. "They are like my kids – and I'm learning from them," Prince added in a 2013 talk with the Washington Post. "Young people have the new ideas."
Goosed along by this influx of nervy exuberance, Prince ended up releasing two complete albums on the same September day in 2014 – the rock-focused Plectrumelectrum and the more R&B-inflected Art Official Age, co-produced by Welton's husband, Joshua. Appearances with a bulky 17-member edition of the New Power Generation (featuring 10 horn players!) continued, in tandem with 3rdEyeGirl projects for a couple of years.
In this way, Prince boldly moved onto a new creative path, while still offering a familiar touchstone for his core group of soul-loving fans. "I give them a lot of credit to be able to hang with me this long," Prince once memorably said, "because I've gone through a lot of changes, but they’ve allowed me to grow, and thus we can tackle some serious subjects and try to just be better human beings, all of us."
"FixUrLifeUp" ultimately shifts toward that kind of widescreen ambition, very much in keeping with Prince's earlier utopian-themed songs of empowerment. "You'll always get the dream that you deserve," he sings. "Don't worry about what the crowd does / Just worry about being good at what you love."
Elsewhere, Prince also has something to say about politics, including a quip that was very much plugged into the populist zeitgeist: "When the leaders learn how to follow and let all the people lead / Instead of everybody getting what they want, they can get what they need."
By then, 3rdEyeGirl's youthful energy has palpable transferred, becoming Prince's energy. "I don't have time for old people; I want to work with young people," Prince told the Washington Post, in a revealing moment. "I have my legacy. It's time for their legacy." Working with 3rdEyeGirl underscored this age-old concern about the world we're leaving behind, something previously mentioned in songs like "My Computer."
But "FixURLifeUp" didn't simply reanimate Prince after a lengthy layoff. (His most recently released album at this point had been 20Ten from three years before.) It also showed how an iconoclastic late-career artist could achieve (yet another) rebirth by reconnecting with his sense of community.
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