3 | Prince – I Would Die 4 U

Music, Storytelling

At Play It Back, it’s never too late to mourn the departure of, or rather celebrate the life of, one of the most immortal music makers of all time. In this special retrospective episode, Play It Back co-host Jia H. Jung recalls when she first encountered The Purple One at 30,000 feet in the air, in 1986, at age 5, somewhere between Boston and Seoul. It was the voice of god, if you will…


About Jia H. Jung

Jia H. Jung is a writer and storyteller, as well as the co-producer and co-host of Play It Back.

Five Facts About “I Would Die 4 U

1. On this very day in thirty years ago (August 17, 1986), Prince visited Rotterdam, Netherlands and sold out a show at Ahoy Stadium in a matter of minutesbefore the Internet. Just like how is writing of “4 U” in place of “for you” predated the era of texting.

2. Prince wrote and produced “I Would Die 4 U” by himself, but not without the instrumentals of Wendy Melvoin (guitar and vocals), Lisa Coleman (keyboard and vocals), Matt Fink (keyboards), Brown Mark (bass), and Bobby Z. (drums and percussion), creating a sound via analog instrumentation that music makers continue to emulate today with digital technologies. Throughout his career, Prince’s all-around musical genius might have actually outshone his guitar prowess. Links like this pay apt tribute to the superstar’s virtuoso instrumentalism…as if we needed another reason to bow down to this deity of creativity.

3. Despite many listeners’ feverish attachment to the song, it never climbed higher than #7 in the Netherlands Singles Chart and #8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, firmly proving that the value of art is in the eye of the beholder.

4. Charlie Murphy satirized the eccentric music creator in 2004 in a skit that helped vault Dave Chappelle to fame. Only they, and our dearly departed, may ever know how close to or far from the truth this hysterical parody was.

5. Among those who have dared to cover this song include Scottish synth pop band Chvrches (“I Would Die 4 V”) and American musician Nick Jonas.


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