Alicia Keys published her memoir today, called “More Myself.” In it she recalls how she got permission to sing Prince‘s “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore” on her first album.
First he wanted to speak to her on the phone. Then he said she had to come to Paisley Park.
“So I’m doing a cover of your song, ‘How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore,’” I explained. “It’s one of my all-time favorite songs, like … ever. And, uh, I was wondering if I could use it on my album.” Silence. “Why don’t you come play at Paisley Park?”
I paused. “You want me to come play at Paisley Park?” “Sure,” he said. “You should come down. I can show you the place, and then you can play the song for me.” Weeks later, I was standing at the outer gates of Prince’s gray, concrete, sixty-five-thousand-square-foot fortress in Chanhassen, Minnesota…Before my backup singers and I began setting up for our sound check, Prince pulled me aside. “I only have one request for you,” he said. “No cursing allowed. That’s my one ask.” “I’ll try,” I said, nodding and blushing.
I played every song on my album, including the one that had brought me to Paisley Park. Afterward, Prince met us backstage in the dressing room. “Great show, great sound,” he told us as we beamed. On our way out, he pulled me aside again. “You’re going to have to put a dollar in my curse jar,” he said, a grin spreading across his pale face. No, I hadn’t dropped the f-bomb, but I had committed a couple of minor infractions. I laughed and thanked him, and he saw me out. Later, back at the hotel, I did not sleep a wink.