Sure, I could
point to almost any
other Prince album
before it and a few after it
as being “better” – but the
will always be Prince’s soundtrack
to Batman; not the actual score and
basically the soundtrack
to the movie of Batman that was playing
in Prince’s head. Prince the star. Of course.
It’s actually one of his best albums-as-snapshot.
It’s concise, it’s song-based, it showcases
pop, funk, ballads – there’s just enough
indulgence and weirdness to remind you
it’s Prince and not just somebody
trying to be Prince. And more than just about
any other record in my collection this one
anchors me to a time and place.
I remember going to see the film
for a second time, in Napier. My parents
picked me up afterwards. Me and
a friend. Not quite teenagers. We made
them put the Prince soundtrack tape
in the car for the drive back.
Bungy-jumping had just made it
to Hawke’s Bay so we had to
take a detour. I remember
the car stereo
was pumping Electric Chair.
And we made it to the carpark of
Countdown where, for $25, you could
bungy-jump from a crane over the
shingle carpark. No scenery – but there was
a double air-bed mattress ready to save
any Partymen and/or Partywomen. We watched
one Partywoman rip her black t-shirt off and go down
in her off-white bra. She looked as filthy
as her bra (the perpetual reason for its off-white-ness). She poked
her tongue out and shrieked. She made the sign of
the horns with her hands. Her hair: the stuff you hate to have to
fish out of a communal plug-hole. She is framed for all time, in a
slow-motion fug of her own cigarette smoke. The car stereo playing
The Arms of Orion.
She was in that instant beautiful.
Worth thinking about the next time
we shuffled the deck of Batman bubblegum cards.
The heat rising
up off the tarmac and
bubbling away at the corners of
the photograph in my mind.
you rotten egg. You
beautiful, mad, bad thing.