How Prince Worked His Magic On The Bangles' 'Manic Monday'

Jun 23, 2019
Originally published on June 23, 2019 10:47 am

Originals, the latest posthumous release from The Prince Estate, compiles 15 previously unheard songs Prince wrote and demoed for other artists. Among the familiar titles penned by Prince are Sheila E.'s "The Glamorous Life," Kenny Rogers' "You're My Love," and the Bangles "Manic Monday." For the Bangles, "Manic Monday" was a career breakthrough and, according to Bangle Susanna Hoffs, the culmination of a magical series of events.

Hoffs says her introduction to Prince's music and her introduction to the man himself came in quick succession, starting one day in 1984 when she heard "When Doves Cry" playing on the radio. At the time, Hoffs was a budding professional musician herself. The Bangles, who would later go on to perform such hits as "Walk Like an Egyptian" and "Eternal Flame," had just put out its debut album earlier that year.

It wasn't long after she heard "When Doves Cry," Hoffs says, that something serendipitous happened. "Soon after I heard ["When Doves Cry"] — maybe even within the same week — somebody let me know that Prince had discovered the Bangles," she remembers. "So it was this sort of interesting feeling of kismet."

Susanna Hoffs is a co-founder, vocalist and guitarist of the Bangles.
Jonathon Kingsbury / Courtesy of the artist

Not only did Prince discover the Bangles' early music, he sought out the performers themselves. It happened one night at one of the band's shows in Hollywood. "Suddenly, word gets to us Bangles backstage that Prince had come to see us," Hoffs remembers.

But he wasn't just there to see them. He was there to perform the band's single, "Hero Takes a Fall," with them onstage. Hoffs calls the experience "magnificent on so many levels."

"It was truly mind-blowing," Hoffs says of playing alongside Prince. "I'd never seen anybody play a guitar like that. It was almost like his guitar was just part of his body; There was no disconnect."

Later, when the band members were recording their second studio album, Different Light, Prince sent word that he had written a song for the band. He invited the members to his studio to pick up the cassette and give the first version of "Manic Monday" a listen.

Hoffs still has that cassette. She recalls listening to the song for the first time with the band: "We Bangles hovered around the cassette machine — 'cause back then, it was tape — and we were smitten with the song."

YouTube

Hoffs remembers being amazed that Prince captured the mundane, relatable feeling of "just trying to get through the moment."

Still, Hoffs says that they made sure to add their special touch to the track. "That's one thing that we Bangles decided en masse, and were very unified in this, that we wanted to kind of make it ours — Bangle-fy it, in a sense," she says.

The group built upon the track Prince had given them, simplifying the bridge and changing some of the chords, and finally released the version that became famous in 1986.

"It was just kind of magical," Hoffs reflects on the Bangles' interaction with Prince. "To have this artist who is so brilliant decide that he wanted to come see the Bangles play, and jump on stage and perform with us — it was like the prince had come to the ball and asked us to dance with him, you know what I mean? There was a fairy tale aspect to it."

Hoffs still feels thankful for Prince and his artistry: "I wish I had had a chance in the decades after to tell him that, to just say 'thank you for the song.' It's still fun to sing, every time."

Listen to the full aired story at the audio link.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

"Originals" is the latest posthumous release from Prince's estate. It's a 15-song compilation of previously unreleased songs Prince wrote and demoed for other artists, including Sheila E's "The Glamorous Life," Kenny Rogers' "You're My Love" and The Bangles' "Manic Monday." NPR's Samantha Balaban caught up with Bangle Susanna Hoffs, who explained how that collaboration came about.

SUSANNA HOFFS: Hello. This is Susanna Hoffs, musician, Bangle.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRINCE SONG, "WHEN DOVES CRY")

SAMANATHA BALABAN, BYLINE: The year was 1984. Prince was putting out his sixth studio album, "Purple Rain." And Hoffs was just discovering his music.

HOFFS: My first introduction to Prince's music was actually hearing "When Doves Cry" on the radio.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHEN DOVES CRY")

PRINCE: (Singing) Dig if you will a picture. You and I engaged in a kiss.

HOFFS: Soon after I heard it, maybe even within the same week, somebody let me know that Prince had discovered The Bangles. So it was this sort of interesting feeling of kismet.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHEN DOVES CRY")

PRINCE: (Singing) This is what it sounds like when doves cry.

BALABAN: The Bangles also had an album out that year, their debut studio album. One night, they were performing a show in Hollywood.

HOFFS: Suddenly, word gets to us - to us Bangles backstage - that Prince had come to see us.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THE BANGLES: (Singing) When the hero takes a fall, when the hero takes a fall.

BALABAN: But not just see them - to perform their single "Hero Takes A Fall" with them onstage.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HOFFS: It was truly mind-blowing. I'd never seen anybody play guitar like that. I mean, it was almost like his guitar was just part of his body. There was no disconnect. It wasn't like this thing he was holding and playing. It was - he was somehow channeling from the inside out. And it just came through. And it was really magnificent on so many levels.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BALABAN: Later, when The Bangles were recording their second studio album "Different Light," they got word that Prince had written a song for the band. And would they come to the studio to pick up a cassette?

HOFFS: I still have it, (laughter) the actual one. We Bangles hovered around the cassette machine because, back then, it was tape. And we were smitten with the song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANIC MONDAY")

PRINCE: (Singing) Six o'clock already - I was just in the middle of a dream. I was kissing Valentino by a crystal-blue, Italian stream.

HOFFS: I mean, the fact that Prince had written a song about Mondays that was very relatable in so many ways...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANIC MONDAY")

PRINCE: (Singing) Just another manic Monday.

HOFFS: I think he was able to write for women really well. It kind of shows a day in the life in the morning of getting up and preparing yourself to keep your life moving forward but the sense of, like, it's just on the verge of falling apart. And you're, like - tape and glue and just trying to get through the moments. And then there's this sort of balancing of the relationship part. And so it really has a lot going on in it, in a three-minute story.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANIC MONDAY")

PRINCE: (Singing) If I had an airplane, I still couldn't make it on time 'cause it takes me so long just to figure out what I'm going to wear.

HOFFS: It had a beautiful, simple melody. There was something in the arpeggiated riff that was a bit baroque. The Bangles always gravitated to what we called baroque pop music, things with harpsichords and, you know - since we were children in the '60s when some of that sound was happening on the radio.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANIC MONDAY")

PRINCE: (Singing) All of the nights - why did my lover have to pick last night to get down?

HOFFS: I know that there was some idea that we would just have access to the tracks and could just put our voices on it. And that's one thing that we Bangles decided en masse and were very unified in this that we wanted to kind of make it ours - Bangle-fy it in a sense.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANIC MONDAY")

PRINCE: (Singing) Time goes so fast when you're having fun. It's just another manic Monday.

BALABAN: So they built the tracks from the ground up, simplified the bridge, changed some of the chords and released the version that became famous.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BANGLES' SONG "MANIC MONDAY")

BALABAN: Hoffs still remembers the first time she sang "Manic Monday" in a studio.

HOFFS: Because, obviously - well, maybe it's not obvious, but I felt a great pressure to do a good job on it. There's always a feeling when you sing a song for the first time where you don't know, as the singer, if the dress is going to fit, the shoe is going to fit, the key is going to fit, the words coming out of your mouth are going to make sense. And I can just tell you that the first time I had that out-of-body experience of standing in a darkened studio alone taking a crack at the vocal, that red-light-fever moment where I see the red light - we're in record - and I thought, oh, yeah. This feels good.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANIC MONDAY")

THE BANGLES: (Singing) It's just another manic Monday - wish it was Sunday 'cause that's my fun day, my I-don't-have-to-run day. It's just another manic Monday.

HOFFS: It was just, you know, kind of magical. And any time that we had the opportunity to play music with Prince - I mean, there was a time when he just invited us to go hang out and play music with him for no one but us, just musicians being musicians doing what they enjoy doing, whether there's an audience or not. And that has stuck with me and has resonated in recent years more than I could have ever, ever known. And actually, I get very emotional thinking about it because, you know, I now have a little group of musicians that I get together with almost every week, and that's what we do. And I didn't even think about that till now, that it doesn't matter if we're just doing it for ourselves, you know? We do it because we love playing. And it does take us somewhere beautiful.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANIC MONDAY")

THE BANGLES: (Singing) Another manic Monday.

HOFFS: I feel so deeply grateful for the gift of this song. You know, I wish I had a chance, you know, in the decades after to tell him that, to just say, thank you for the song. It's still fun to sing every time.

BALABAN: That was Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles.

I'm Samantha Balaban, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.