“Bob George” by Prince (1987)

“Bob George” is as funny as it is disturbing. Prince clearly wrote the song with black humor in mind. Musically, the song is nothing more than a rhythmic, uber-minimalist synth/drum machine pattern, Prince, inhabiting a character arguably better than in his entire film oeuvre, pitches his voice so low that it suggests an agitated, drunken Barry White. The vocal manipulation isn’t the most the disturbing part–the real weirdness comes when you realize that Prince is talking/grumbling his way through a domestic dispute that ends with him at least injuring if not murdering his partner and getting into a shootout with the police. There’s nothing funny about domestic abuse, obviously. Still, there are several lines in the song that are gut-bustingly funny. Here they are in order from merely humorous to god damn hilarious.

4) “I pay the rent in this raggedy motherfucker/all you do is suck up food and heat!”

3) “For someone who can’t stand them T.V. dinners/You sure eat enough of them motherfuckers!”

2) “I don’t talk about you/Wit’ yo’ little almond-shaped head ass!”

1) “What’s he do for a living? Manage rock stars? Who? Prince? Ain’t that a bitch? That skinny motherfucker with the high voice?”

Prince included “Bob George” on The Black Album, which was scheduled to be released in late 1987, only to be withdrawn at the last minute after Prince (allegedly) experienced an Ecstasy-fueled epiphany/bad trip. A few copies escaped Warner Brothers’ shipping facility and the album became heavily bootlegged and circulated throughout Prince’s fan base, much to his chagrin.

The Black Album entered my world in the summer of 1994. I was living on my own for the first time, in an apartment near Delancey Street in Alphabet City. I spent a ton of time either at Tower Records in the East Village (especially since I was an employee at another Tower location) and Washington Square Park. There was maybe a half mile distance between the Eastern and Western ends of the park, with a Sam Goody resting at the further tip of the park, on 8th Street and Avenue of The Americas. Back in those heady days of physical media, you could start at Tower, end at Sam Goody, and pass at least four other record stores. I was in one of those stores (somewhere on Sullivan Street, I think) when I found a CD copy of The Black Album. Actually, the CD was called The Black Album In A Dirty Mind, and it contained the entire Black Album with a few extra tracks from the vault that were recorded in the early ‘80s; “Lisa”, “Billy’s Sunglasses”, and the hilarious “Vibrator”.

The CD cost at least twenty bucks, and I don’t know where I found the money to pay for it. I must have worked overtime the week before, because I was making $7/hour and paying rent. Anyway, I took that baby home with the quickness. Six months later, Prince released The Black Album commercially as part of his campaign to dissolve his Warners contract. Strangely, I no longer have the commercially released copy I bought, but I still have that bootleg CD.

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