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Book Review: On Time: A Princely Life In Funk By: Morris Day with David Ritz

Updated: Oct 12, 2019


 

I didn’t expect any nonsense from a legit brother like Morris Day, yet have to admit that I was very impressed with this book.


Despite what some folks assumed/voiced, this is not some crap project thrown together by a Prince-adjacent (this term still cracks me up) wannabe looking for his/her five minutes. Morris Day is the real deal, a legit musician, beloved public personality, who was there from Day 1, who has put in work, who has paid his dues. Some folks even tried to comment negatively on the cover of the book. I am definitely a visual person. What can I say, I like pretty things. Reading the book and his description of the caricature, the “comically cool” MD, the cover makes sense to me.


Many have also commented on the “Prince voice” set up. I won’t add to that. Morris Day’s book, Morris Day’s choice. I will say that in real life, I had actually bought into the MD character (who also speaks in the book). I was big mad at him for a long time for being so mean to Prince ( I was a kid, okay?) It was interesting learning just how dark and dangerous the MD alter ego actually was.


He spoke with depth on myriad issues, not just the finer points of jazz and funk music or the expected women-drugs-fast life that tend to go along with that scene, but about brotherhood, pride, trust, mistrust, admiration, encouragement, education, genius, madness, rebellion, hopelessness, disappointment, confusion, moments of clarity, and transition. He did so with integrity. Owned his own sh!t. Fessed up to playing the victim at times.


There were several times I thought about things, that I had heard, or was familiar with differently, based on the perspective provided within these pages, for example, his Michael Jackson/Prince comparison. I usually get pretty irritated with the nonsense folks spew on the topic, but Morris Day brought unique perspective to it as someone who was with Prince when the J5 Phenomenon took hold. He was a person physically on the scene when two, 21-year-old Black Men, in the US of A, in the late 1970s simultaneously released some seriously amazing music, changed the game forever, yet arrived at their similar destinations via very different vehicles. Another example, the idea of The Time songs on the Purple Rain Soundtrack, since they were part of the film … oddly, that never occurred to me. Facepalm.


The conversation on giving credit in liner notes in this scenario (pre-Internet) is always interesting to me. You could have an album cover featuring a band who didn’t play note one on the album (because it was literally almost all Prince), yet the band is credited as having contributed. Then you could also have other songs where someone says they contributed but weren’t credited, or Prince did it all and credited a pseudonym. I would love to hear Prince speak for himself on the topic, imagining that because he was so prolific in songwriting, he saw it much differently than others.


I wouldn’t call this book a “Tell All.” Maybe a “Tell the truth and shame the devil?” Lol! Because a brother kept it all the way 100 throughout. He showed gratitude for what Prince gave him, and addressed bad feelings about times he felt Prince wronged him. He told what he experienced and how he felt about it, in a lineal, organized fashion, without being judgmental. Mr. Day treats the reader to a great example of how to disagree without disrespect - a lesson some folks appear to have missed. There were definitely some things-that-make-you-go-hmmmmm-eyebrow-raising moments.


Some things raised more questions for me. Not in a bad way, just made me want to learn more - like with the Do Me Baby (because I LOVE that song) situation, and André Cymone (whom I greatly respect). Would love to know more. I’m the type who will listen if you want to share, but can also respect boundaries. I don’t pry into anyone’s personal business and wouldn’t try to get info they didn’t want made public. I thought Mr. Day shared without throwing anyone else under the bus or going into other folk’s lanes. Loved reading his commentary on the background events during the creation of music/movies I love/grew up on, like Get It Up – my ish!!!


On that note, gotta say this, aaaannd, I don’t care what anybody says, Under the Cherry Moon is a great movie, dammit! LOL. Keeping in mind that I first saw it as a child, sneaking through my dad’s VHS collection years after the movie was released, no idea of any press or public opinion about it. All I knew was that it had Prince in it and we weren’t allowed to watch it, so of course I watched it. I was confused about a lot of it, but thought the parts I understood, as a little girl watching a grown folks film alone, were funny. The music of course is just 100, Tricky is hilarious, and Prince, with that chain around his waist, those abs, oh my … oops, sorry, got carried away for a sec. ;) I’ve watched the movie again several times, as both a teen, and as an adult and it’s even funnier to me now, so many great scenes/lines like when he sneaks into Mary’s mom’s room by mistake and “CABBAGE HEAD” & “Wreckastow” CLASSIC!!! If folks would just let it be what it is, the film really is great. Now, Graffiti Bridge … er, uh, I’ma leave that where it is, lol. Anyone who’s known me for more than five minutes knows exactly how I feel about that one. Goes without saying (but I’ma say it anyways)the soundtrack is amazing. That Thieves in the Temple extended mix?!?!?! F.I.R.E!!!! Still.


In the end, I did come away with some sadness. It’s difficult to get past thinking of what could have been. It’s hard not to feel something about the fact that, while Mr. Day admits to having lived pretty hard, he’s still here to share his complete, heartfelt story. He has love, a family, his career, music. Dig that he wants others to learn from his mistakes. Wish it were similar for P. I am reminded that the walls one builds to keep others out can also keep that one in … alone.


I totally appreciate this thoughtful, real addition to the written record of Prince/Music history.


Much Love 2 U,


Violet

IG: @violetesq

www.VioletBInterACTive.com

PRINCE/365 A CELEBRATION


 

















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