It’s a little known fact that Prince once wrote a song especially for Joni Mitchell – but she rejected it.
The Purple One was a life-long fan of Joni’s work, effusive in his praise for her songwriting, and that incredible voice. A habitual attendee of her shows as a pre-fame teen, Joni Mitchell spotted him years before the world took notice.
“I remember seeing him sitting in the front row when he was very young,” she told New York Magazine. “He must have been about 15. He was in an aisle seat, and he had unusually big eyes. He watched the whole show with his collar up, looking side to side. You couldn’t miss him — he was a little Prince-ling.”
Even after he became famous, Prince would write fan letters to Joni Mitchell, discussing her work and its impact on him – remarkably, her office thought they were from “the lunatic fringe” and binned them.
Prince famously wrote Joni Mitchell’s music into the lyrics of his song ‘The Ballad of Dorothy Parker’, and once aspired to write a song directly for her.
Joni Mitchell embraced a synth-dominated sound on her 1986 album ‘Dog Eat Dog’, and Prince felt the time was right to collaborate. “He implied that something would happen between our two musics. Something that he had never done before. That whet my curiosity,” Mitchell told the Auckland Sun in the late 80s. “I asked him to explain it, but he said he could not put it into words. The closest he came to articulating it was that it was the open harmonies I got in conjunction with funk into a hybrid that would be fairly fresh.”
“I said why didn’t he build me a track,” she continued, “so he sent a song with him singing ‘Emotional pump, you’re my emotional pump, You make my body jump.’ I called him back and said that I could not do the song.”
The reason? It was too risqué. Joni Mitchell said: “‘I can’t sing this; I’d have to jump around in a black teddy. You think I should be jumping around in a black teddy?’ He said, ‘Oh Joni, we don’t do that anymore!’”
Find the Prince recording of ‘Emotional Pump’ below.
Related: Seven Unbelievable Prince Solos