Prince Goes Back to the Beginning on ‘One Song’
As befitting a man who had a huge hit by predicting the apocalypse in the year 2000, Prince began that year by wishing for mankind to start all over again. He uploaded "One Song" as a streaming video to the NPG Music Club on Jan. 1, 2000.
Prince spends nearly the first two-thirds of the nine-minute track on a music-less spoken-word sermon. "1999, and the illusion continues," he begins. "One begs to ask, "when will it end?" From there, he recites a litany of man-made disasters to which the public is subjected regularly, as well as fictional depictions of those tragedies. It's no longer a case of art reflecting society, but rather the reverse.
Making it clear that the party's over -- oops -- out of time, the consequence, he believes, is that humanity is continuously moving away from God's original intentions. "All man-made creations originate from one of two sources," he says, "the Tree of Knowledge or the Tree of Life. One of these trees contained deadly fruit, the other - Fruit of Everlasting Life. The one who disregards this fact recreates himself and his kind into extinction."
Hear Prince Perform "One Song"
He believes the world needs to be brought out of its man-made state of "chaos, disorder, and illusion," and Prince claims to have the answer: "Returning the leadership back into God will allow man-kind to achieve its original collective goal, which is union with God. Ideas contrary to this goal should not be blamed or persecuted - just simply ignored."
After almost six minutes, Prince sings either of his singular connection to the universe or takes on the voice of God: "I am the one song / And that one song is free / All things come from this one song / The garden and the tree."
At the time of the release of "One Song," Prince was in the process of becoming a Jehovah's Witness under the tutelage of former Sly & the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham. His next full-length album, The Rainbow Children, would further explore religious themes, and he officially joined the church in 2003.