Writing about Prince last night, I mentioned his omnivorous musical tastes. I barely scratched the surface, but wanted to suggest one of his most striking qualities. I had wanted to include Prince’s version of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” to illustrate my point, but couldn’t find a video with it posted on YouTube. Now we have this, rendered by Prince as “A Case of U,” of course:
Something in that beautiful song touched Prince deeply, and he picked it up and took it further in his own way. Today CBC News recalls:
Joni Mitchell, who began her professional songwriting and performing career in Toronto, was a lifelong obsession for Prince.
“Prince used to write me fan mail with all of the U’s and hearts that way that he writes,” Mitchell told New York Magazine in 2005.
He would speckle his career with references to Joni, as he called her. Her name appeared on the back of his 1981 album, Controversy, for no apparent reason. The Time, another band of Prince acolytes, released the Prince-produced album Ice Cream Castles, a reference to lyrics in Mitchell’s Both Sides, Now.
He inserted a portion of Mitchell’s song “Help Me” on his 1987 tune “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker.” And he covered Mitchell’s classic “A Case Of You” on the 2002 studio album One Night Alone…, retitling it a “A Case Of U.”
In interviews, Prince praised Mitchell’s 1975 album The Hissing of Summer Lawns, gushing about how much he loved it on more than one occasion. At the time, the album was not well-received and Mitchell later said she was grateful for The Purple One’s support.
In Prince’s version of the song, among other things. you can hear Prince’s love of Mitchell, you can hear Pbince’s vocal prowess, you can hear Prince’s love of doo wop, you can hear the gospel music out of which soul emerged, you can hear Prince’s creativity at work, and you can hear him infusing the song with soul: “Surely you touched mine.”
NOTE: One Nite Alone (as Prince spelled it) is out of print but the song is available on A Tribute to Joni Mitchell.