Friends and I recently took a tour of Paisley Park, Prince’s recording studio just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. What we encountered was straight up weirdness.
Take Me With U
Let me back up a bit. The trip was to visit a friend who recently moved to Minneapolis as well as a friend who’s lived there for a while already (see my previous post on Minneapolis). We’re all more or less from San Diego, so it was a bit of a fish-out-of-water situation. When we planned the trip, I was adamant about one thing: that we visit Paisley Park.
What’s your favorite Prince song? Ours are Raspberry Beret, Little Red Corvette, 7 (an unorthodox choice), and Kiss (my choice).
Nothing Compares 2 U
Pulling up to Paisley Park, you kinda think you’re at the wrong place. It’s a white concrete industrial building that looks more like 3M headquarters than a world-famous recording studio. When you check in at the front desk, they lock up your cameras and phones. No biggie for me because I broke my phone on Day 1 of the trip before even leaving the San Diego airport. And as disconcerting as this was to some, it was also refreshing to have people paying attention instead of snapping photos. Like I would have been doing. For y’all.
When Doves Cry
You enter Paisley Park’s glass-ceiling atrium and are subjected to cheesy metaphors about the sky being the limit, yada yada. You gather around, and the tour guide tells you to look up. Not only are there live doves caged on the balcony but also Prince’s remains, which are housed in a dollhouse-sized replica of Paisley Park that hangs in a clear plastic bubble overhead. You’re all like, “What?!”
In no way meaning to disrespect Prince, your immediate response may be to laugh uncontrollably. Because it is weird. And you were not ready.
In all seriousness, may Prince rest in peace. He is one of my top 3 favorite musicians of all time. He’s not only a prolific and talented artist but also someone who managed to pull off being one of the sexiest men on the planet while wearing ruffled pirate shirts and having an abbreviated stature of only 5’ 3”.
Sign o’ the Times
The various rooms around Paisley Park are dedicated to Prince’s hit records and movies. Curators have added his stage costumes, guitars, and other artifacts, like his high-heeled shoes that are shocking to see in person because they’re maybe a women’s size 6 at the largest. It’s all very extra, but the decade of decadence–the ‘80s–really was his best and most dynamic era.
But here’s the thing about Paisley Park: It’s like time stopped and it’s still 1989 inside those walls.
Have you seen the movie Under the Cherry Moon, Prince’s directorial debut costarring Kristin Scott Thomas? 75% of my crew had not. Guess who had…
We saw the purple motorcycle from Purple Rain, so I was feeling like my life was complete…until they showed us the room that was once the basketball court that Charlie Murphy made famous in THAT Dave Chappelle episode (shirts versus blouses). And yes, it’s true what they said about pancakes. Prince loved pancakes.
Inside another room is Studio A, where artists like Madonna, R.E.M., Celine Dion, and even the late, great Aretha Franklin once recorded. You get to hear Prince’s last known recording, an unfinished song from only a few years back that sounded, well, like it was from the ‘80s.
The tour ends in the Paisley Park nightclub, where–bizarre fact #293–Prince often played Finding Nemo, one of his favorite movies, on the big screen.
Let’s Go Crazy
Without giving to many spoilers, suffice it to say that Paisley Park is surreal. And amazing. And impressive beyond measure. But really, something you need to see before you die. Right up there with the pyramids in Giza.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to appreciate this weird-ass place called Paisley Park…
Here we are at the Minnesota State Fair on Day 3 of the trip: eating fried things, petting beaver beer koozies, and riding rides that made us laugh until we cried.