A Posthumous Prince Album

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VAN JONES, PRINCE FRIEND AND COLLABORATOR: Well, you know, he got a lot of best friends. I was happy to be in the mix. He honestly — he’s one of the reasons I wind up in the White House in the first place. He found out about the work we were doing in Oakland, teaching urban youth to put up solar panels and he wound up funding all that up and then got me in the White House, helping Obama with that stuff. And when I left, the White House — Prince saved my left. I left the White House under fire. The right-wing was coming after me and I didn’t know where to go. And Prince pulled me in and changed my life. And I never knew that this album existed. Even though he must have been working on it while we were together. That’s Prince.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Well, that’s really — that’s an amazing — that’s amazing what you said. A, I didn’t know that he’d been so instructive in helping, you know, with those projects you had and how closely he had helped you. But I want to ask you. You probably heard the little clip we played where he says, hope and change, everything takes forever, the truth is a new minority or welcome to America. I’m going to ask you because, you know, some of the critics have said some of the words look like — you know, they reflect a little bit of a disillusion with the Obama administration. I know it was early in the administration. But what would your reaction to that be?

JONES: Well, I think that Prince wanted more from all humanity. Not just the Obama administration. I think that makes it too small. I think that Prince was probably literally 30 or 40 years ahead of his time. And he had the pain and the frustration that comes with that. Don’t forget he was — he and David Bowie were trying to put their music on the internet in the 1990s when people didn’t even know what the internet was and he already had in his mind, a vision for what would now be called a title or Spotify or streaming. It didn’t exist. So, he’s living in this constant state of being literally decades ahead on race, decades ahead on gender, decades ahead on sexuality, decades ahead on democracy, decades ahead on everything. And so, I wouldn’t reduce it to something about the Obama administration. He just wanted humanity to be better than we’ve shown up as so far.

AMANPOUR: I want to play another clip. And it is land of the free, home of the slave. These obviously also prophetic lyrics and, of course, he wrote this before so many of the names that we’ve come to memorialize, so many black men and women who have been unjustly killed. He wrote them before George Floyd and Trayvon Martin. Let’s just play this.



PRINCE: Keep playing, it gets worse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Land of the free, home of the brave. Oops, I mean, land of the free, home of the slave.

PRINCE: Get down on your knees, hit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to America. Welcome to the big show. Everybody’s looking for something when there ain’t no place to go.


About This Episode EXPAND

Alok Sharma; Kate Orff; Cal Newport; Van Jones