How Prince and Kate Bush Found Middle Ground on ‘Why Should I Love You': 365 Prince Songs in a Year
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To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Prince and Kate Bush operated at two very different speeds — as she lovingly joked after his passing, he could reel off “two world tours, a couple of albums, a film” in the time it took her to finish an album — but they both created on utterly singular planes. In the early ’90s, their muses met for a single track: “Why Should I Love You,” recorded for Bush’s 1993 The Red Shoes LP.
“Kate went to see him at a gig and was flattered to be asked to meet him after the show, when they discussed a collaboration,” Bush’s former collaborator and partner Del Palmer told Future Music later that year. “Unable to physically get together in the same room, they swapped multi-track tapes, with a slave reel returning from Prince’s Paisley Park studio covered in vocals, guitar solos and keyboards.”
In layman’s terms, what that meant was that Prince returned Bush’s demo for “Why Should I Love You” in a substantially altered form — and one that, as Palmer recalled, “basically took two years” to refashion into something that found a middle ground between the song Bush initially envisioned and the sonic layers Prince added.
That Prince didn’t deliver what Bush anticipated — right down to ignoring what Palmer described as “one of the vocal parts which would have been particularly good for him” — should come as little surprise to anyone who followed his career. Like Bush, he stubbornly followed his own path; whatever he was moved to add after hearing the demo, that’s what he returned when he was finished.
For the most part, anyway. Former Prince engineer Michael Koppelman, a hardcore Bush fan, later wrote about the sessions at his site, mincing no words regarding the “lame disco” Prince added to the demo — and recalling a humbling snafu that unraveled after Prince, who insisted on recording his vocals alone, allegedly bungled the lyrics to a line and had to re-record them after the error was pointed out.
The end result, according to Koppelman, was hardly Bush’s favorite piece of work — in fact, he recalled Paisley Park being told to “destroy all copies” of the mix they’d put together and sent back to her. Ultimately, of course, it ended up being repurposed into the version fans later heard on The Red Shoes, and all was well that ended well; whatever disconnect the duo might have experienced during their initial collaboration, the final product proved worth the effort, and they worked together again several years later, when Bush contributed backing vocals to Prince’s “My Computer.” After his passing in 2016, Bush penned a heartfelt tribute she posted to her official site.
“I am so sad and shocked to hear the tragic news about Prince. He was the most incredibly talented artist,” wrote Bush. “A man in complete control of his work from writer and musician to producer and director. He was such an inspiration. Playful and mind-blowingly gifted. He was the most inventive and extraordinary live act I’ve seen. The world has lost someone truly magical. Goodnight dear Prince.”
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