Prince Buries His Feelings by Hiding ‘Wasted Kisses’
“Wasted Kisses” is the 49th track, but 12th overall song, on Newpower Soul, the third and final Prince album credited solely to his former backing band, the New Power Generation. While Newpower Soul was the most successful and pop-leaning of the three NPG albums, an undercurrent of sadness runs throughout, focused around the demise of Prince’s personal and professional relationship with Mayte Garcia.
The album’s third song, “Until U're In My Arms Again” seems like a flat-out love song until you pay closer attention. That song's lyrics address the loss his son, Amiir, who died six days after his birth due to complications from Pfeiffer syndrome. The tragedy contributed greatly to the demise of Prince and Mayte’s fairytale romance, but he holds of on discussing her until the very end.
“Wasted Kisses," a slightly hidden track, turns out to be the darkest and best song on an otherwise uneven album. While the title wasn’t listed on the album's back spine, the inside artwork lets you know it’s there. The words "wasted kisses" are printed on the elastic waistband of a young woman’s boxer shorts in the lyric page for “(eye like) Funky Music”, adjacent to the “fast forward” symbol.
Hidden tracks were often whimsical gifts from the artist to fans, an audio Easter Egg to delight someone who already bought the album. Nirvana famously put a hidden track, “Endless, Nameless” on their smash album, Nevermind, but the practice actually pre-dates CDs and can be traced all the way back to the Beatles.
Unlike some bonus content, which are considered part of the listed closing song, “Wasted Kisses” is its own track and easy to find. If you are listening to the CD and don’t immediately stop the player after “(eye like) Funky Music” wraps up, you will be jolted with the song’s opening bars after a brief session of silence as 37 brief but silent tracks cycle through.
Even though Prince and Mayte would not officially divorce until the year 2000, she is nowhere to be seen in Newpower Soul’s CD booklet; three years prior, she was prominently featured in the Exodus artwork. In the track, Prince broods, “Why did I waste my kisses on you baby? I Why did I waste my time?” It’s a perfectly fine kiss off for a one-night stand or a fleeting romance, but seems harsh given that they were married and she had been in his life for years. Garcia met Prince while she was underage, so it took some time for their romantic courtship to begin, a milestone that Prince acknowledges in the verse, “Overdue / That's how I described the hour / The minute, the moment that I first laid eyes on U / I guess I knew that sooner or later this power / Would manifest itself into a rendezvous.” But in hindsight of the failed relationship, Prince shows buyer’s remorse, “Cheap perfume all over those burgundy stockings / The ones I tied U up with / I shoulda just left 'em there.”
In a senseless and cruel slap in the face to Garcia, let alone anyone who’s endured the anguish of miscarriage, at 2:30 in the song, Prince introduces an electronic heartbeat from an EKG machine that flatlines by the 2:50 mark. While it’s generous to assume he meant it to symbolize the death of a romance, it’s more likely a callback reference to Amiir’s passing. Perhaps this is why Prince decided to bury the song on the album.
According to PrinceVault, Prince performed “Wasted Kisses” in concert only one time, close to a decade later in Las Vegas. Even then, he added, “it’s cold, ain’t it” to the verse perhaps in acknowledgment of the song’s original cruel intentions. Most of the fans in attendance knew the song and sang along, but Prince reminds them the chorus is coming after a lengthy sax solo that’s not heard in the studio version.
After Prince’s death, Garcia published a heartbreaking and well-received memoir of her years with Prince, titled The Most Beautiful.
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