Prince Explores the Good Life in ‘Good Love’
In March 1988, a year after wowing fans with the artistic triumph of Sign 'O’ the Times, Prince gifted fans with a bonus track in the form of “Good Love." The original version appeared on the soundtrack to the Michael J. Fox drama, Bright Lights, Big City, marking the first time an original Prince song debuted on a motion picture soundtrack for a movie Prince wasn’t starring in.
Thematically, the whimsical romance of “Good Love” couldn’t be further from the gritty landscape of Bright Lights, Big City, a film based on the Jay McInerney novel set in the cocaine-fueled yuppie fast lane of the '80s. Lyrics such as “Cherry pie, apple kisses / Everything is cool” evoke the colors and flavors of “Raspberry Beret." In the same verse, Prince sings, “Here is another world (Here I'm protected) / Here I'm protected from all harm,” recalling a world of his own creation that was first referenced in the song “Paisley Park” and eventually brought to life with the Paisley Park recording and theatrical complex in Chanhassen, Minn.
In the song, Prince is in the throws of romance, “Technicolor children in Picadilly Square / Whisper words, erotica, when you kiss me there.” The reference to the Picadilly Circus also invokes Prince’s other romance at the time: Europe. Prince fell in love with the continent, the people, and the culture while touring there and while filming Under the Cherry Moon.
Hear Prince Perform "Good Love"
Elsewhere, he sings, “Gustav Mahler number three is jamming on the box / I'll have another glass of you / This time on the rocks.” The Mahler reference is notable for several reasons. During the phase of his career commonly referred to as “The Genius Era” (1980's Dirty Mind through 1988's Lovesexy), Susannah Melvoin, her brother Jonathan, her sister Wendy and Wendy’s partner Lisa Coleman (among others) exposed Prince to a wide variety of artists, composers and genres – including Joni Mitchell and the Beatles -- each of which expanded Prince’s mind and his sound. Mahler, a classical composer, possibly influenced Prince’s gravitation to the string arrangements supplied by Clare Fischer throughout much of his career.
According to PrinceVault, Susannah Melvoin sings background vocals on “Good Love” alongside Jill Jones. In Prince The Man and His Music, Susannah tells Matt Thorne that, in addition to being Prince’s girlfriend, she was hired as a staff singer after the dissolution of the Family. Susannah was often summoned to the studio yet rarely knew where her contributions would wind up. “It was a really good time for Prince and I. The two of us would get in there and pull the microphones together and sing these backgrounds."
An edited version of "Good Love," shorter in length but with a longer outro, was released on the vault clearing set Crystal Ball in 1998. The original, under the title “Goodlove," was also earmarked for the Camille album, a set of songs sung entirely in the sped-up voice Prince debuted on “Erotic City." The Camille album was given an official Warner Bros. catalog number and test pressing, but an official release never came to be. Many of the songs wound up on Sign O’ the Times or were released as b-sides. In each of the proposed Camille tracklists, “Goodlove” was paired with “Shockadelica," a song that would eventually be released as the flipside to “If I Was Your Girlfriend”.
While the Camille album never came to be, Prince dreamt up but dismissed a bankable movie idea related to the project. In the book, The Rise of Prince: 1958-1988, author Alex Hahn reveals, “Over cocktails at Tramps, a Los Angeles nightclub, Prince told saxophonist Eric Leeds of an idea for a film in which Prince would play two characters, one being the ‘evil Camille.’ At the end of the film, it would be revealed that the two were one in the same, and that the protagonist had a split personality.” While Prince’s movie would never get made, the idea is close to the synopsis of Fight Club, a film that would be a modest hit for Brad Pitt and Edward Norton a decade later.