Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O'Connor famously took her career to the next level with an arrangement of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U," but the late musical legend's own studio recording of the ballad was previously unreleased... until now.
Warner Bros. dropped the track in tandem with the above music video featuring unseen footage of Prince and his former band, The Revolution, rehearsing for their 1984 summer tour.
That was an especially prolific time for the multi platinum-selling artist. His sound engineer, Susan Rogers, said he was on "a creative roll, cranking out a song a day," in a recent interview with The Guardian.
One day, he went into a room with a notebook and, within an hour, emerged with the lyrics to "Nothing Compares 2 U." Rogers, who witnessed many such bursts of creativity, remembers, “The song came out like a sneeze.”
As usual, she rolled the tapes as Prince laid down instrument after instrument, mixing and overdubbing in the same session.
Regarding the song's lyrics, Rogers said the song was about two important women in his life—Susannah Melvoin of the Prince-formed band The Family, and his housekeeper, Sandy Sciopini, who had temporarily left to be with her family.
“He wasn’t living with anyone, but he was a young man writing about domesticity. The line ‘all the flowers that you planted in my backyard went out and died’… it would have been Sandy who planted those flowers," Rogers told The Guardian.
"'And I know that living with me baby is sometimes hard, but I’m willing to give it another try…’ There was no romantic relationship with Sandy. It’s not a pained ‘Help me, baby’ track. It’s: ‘You’re gone and I miss you,’ which is probably why he felt comfortable giving the song away to the Family. He released his material based on what he wanted us to know about him and, wonderful as it is, he didn’t want it to represent him,” Rogers added.
The Family's version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" was featured on their self-titled 1985 album, but it received little attention. When O'Connor's cover blew up five years later, the Purple One was reportedly not impressed.
"He told me he didn’t like it [O’Connor’s version]," Rogers told The Guardian. "Unless he asked them, he didn’t like anyone covering his songs.”
Only now do we have the privilege of experiencing Prince's studio recording as he intended it to be heard. Occasionally, though, fans were treated to live performances.
"Nothing Compares 2 U" was one of many great pieces Prince delivered over a lengthy career until his untimely death on April 21, 2016. The state of Minnesota recently determined in court that Prince was unaware he was taking the powerful opioid that ultimately killed him.
The New York Post has further details:
[Carver County Attorney Mark] Metz said the evidence shows Prince thought he was taking Vicodin, not fentanyl. He said there’s no evidence any person associated with Prince knew he possessed any counterfeit pill containing fentanyl.
An autopsy found Prince died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin. State and federal authorities have been investigating the source of the fentanyl for nearly two years, and have still not determined where the drug came from or how Prince got it.
Hopefully there are more previously unreleased gems from the Purple One's repertoire on the way.