On Episode 47 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, Prince gets emotionally raw with us on his piano and a microphone break-up ballad, “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore.” The “1999” B-side gave us a glimpse of Prince we hadn’t seen much of before. It’s just one lousy dime…pick up the phone and call me sometime.
“Down on my knees, beggin’ you please, please.”
Piano and a Microphone 1982 could be the subtitle for this superior B-side to the “1999” single, released in the fall of 1982. Like the Piano and a Microphone 1983 release from a few years back, it’s a stripped-down take with a simple bluesy-gospel vocal over plaintive piano where Prince pleads for his former lover/girlfriend to simply talk to him. So what went wrong, and how can he fix it? Unfortunately, he doesn’t know because there has been a complete communication breakdown.
The loneliness and desperation evoked through the song’s lyrics come through loud and clear on the performance of this track. Despite its chill vibe, “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore” was a very popular song when performed live. It was an integral part of both the 1999 and Purple Rain tours, not to mention the ’97-’98 Jam of the Year, ’02 One Nite Alone, and ’16 Piano & a Microphone tours. Prince loved to ad-lib during this song (“it’s just one lousy motherfuckin’ dime,” “don’t you wanna play with my tootsie roll?” “nevermind, she ain’t gonna call”), and the performances would change enough on each tour to make it sound fresh. It also gave his bandmates a chance to catch their breath as it requires no drums, guitars, bass, or keys. Just Prince, a piano, and a whole lot of personality.
The goal of each episode of Press Rewind is to:
- Take a track by track look at the lyrical content of Prince’s discography
- Discuss my own interpretation of each song’s lyrics along with any guest I may have
- If submitted, discuss listener’s interpretations of each song’s lyrics
Thank you for joining me on this journey through Prince’s catalog!