Prince Goes Back to the Beginning on ‘One Song': 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
As befitting a man who had a huge hit by predicting the apocalypse in the year 2000, Prince began that year by wishing for mankind to start all over again. He uploaded "One Song" as a streaming video to the NPG Music Club on Jan. 1, 2000.
Prince spends nearly the first two-thirds of the nine-minute track on a music-less spoken-word sermon. "1999, and the illusion continues," he begins. "One begs to ask, "when will it end?" From there, he recites a litany of man-made disasters to which the public is subjected regularly, as well as fictional depictions of those tragedies. It's no longer a case of art reflecting society, but rather the reverse.
Making it clear that the party's over -- oops -- out of time, the consequence, he believes, is that humanity is continuously moving away from God's original intentions. "All man-made creations originate from one of two sources," he says, "the Tree of Knowledge or the Tree of Life. One of these trees contained deadly fruit, the other - Fruit of Everlasting Life. The one who disregards this fact recreates himself and his kind into extinction."
He believes the world needs to be brought out of its man-made state of "chaos, disorder, and illusion," and Prince claims to have the answer: "Returning the leadership back into God will allow man-kind to achieve its original collective goal, which is union with God. Ideas contrary to this goal should not be blamed or persecuted - just simply ignored."
After almost six minutes, Prince sings either of his singular connection to the universe or takes on the voice of God: "I am the one song / And that one song is free / All things come from this one song / The garden and the tree."
At the time of the release of "One Song," Prince was in the process of becoming a Jehovah's Witness under the tutelage of former Sly & the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham. His next full-length album, The Rainbow Children, would further explore religious themes, and he officially joined the church in 2003.