‘I Wonder’ Leaves One of Prince’s Greatest Valentine’s Un-Mailed
“I Wonder” is a track from Prince’s legendary vault that opens a Pandora’s box of potential debate within fan circles. For starters, the track isn’t “I Wonder U” from the Parade album. According to PrinceVault, it was recorded a few years later in 1990 or 1991.
The song itself, spare on instrumentation and heavy on Prince’s multi-tracked vocals, is one of the most outwardly romantic in Prince’s catalog. In the verse Prince joyously sings, “I wonder if she knows how much I love her,” and, if the lyrics are autobiographical, the potential story behind the tracks hints at darker clouds.
Unlike Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” and Alanis Morissette’s “You Outta Know," it is much easier to figure out which lady is the subject of the song. The date of its recording puts several of Prince’s love interests at the time in the spotlight. While Kim Basinger, star of Tim Burton’s Batman, was Prince’s highest profile love interest at the time, the lyric “I wonder if she knows how much I need her face around” pulls focus to one of Prince’s most mysterious paramours, Anna Garcia.
Hear Prince Perform "I Wonder"
Many fans confuse Anna Garcia for Prince’s future wife, Mayte Garcia. The two Garcias look alike (Anna’s physical beauty is on the 50-yard-line between Mayte and Carmen Electra), and their storylines are nearly identical: discovered as teenagers below the age of consent, groomed as “platonic relationships/muses” until their 18th birthdays, promised recording or film projects, and primarily used as blank canvases for Prince to create their artistic personalities. For Prince, the waiting truly was the hardest part. “I wonder if I’ll finally do what I’ve been dreaming so long.”
Mayte recently told the full story of her life with Prince in the bestseller, The Most Beautiful. Anna’s story is much less known, save for a few interviews along the way in newspapers and books like Alex Hahn’s Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince. Prince re-christened her “Anna Fantastic” and wrote the songs “Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic”, “Pink Cashmere” and “Anna’s Waiting” about her, the latter being re-titled and rewritten as “Vicki Waiting” to fit the Batman album theme.
Having grown tired of Prince’s attention being on other women, especially Basinger, and other projects, such as the film and album Graffiti Bridge, Anna Garcia returned to England and went on with her life. Prince addresses the ocean between them in the song's opening salvo, "A gust of southern wind came and took my girl away from me / Now my tears could fill an ocean, my tears could fill a sea."
Later on, when Basinger left Prince, Prince phoned Garcia in England and begged to have her back -- in his life and in his film. “Kim let me down,” Prince told her, recounted in Hahn's book, “Too bad, Graffiti Bridge could have been a big hit for her.” Garcia didn’t want to be Prince’s backup choice and made an excuse to get off the phone. As Hahn reports, the two never talked again. The part in Graffiti Bridge went to Ingrid Chavez; the film wasn’t a hit for anyone involved.
Perhaps “I Wonder” encapsulates everything Prince wishes he could have said on that call.