Wendy + Lisa Look Back on Prince’s ‘Sometimes It Snows in April’
In a new excerpt from Duane Tudahl's upcoming book Prince and the Parade and Sign O' The Times Era Studio Sessions: 1985 and 1986, longtime Prince collaborators Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman revisit the making of one of Prince's most introspective and poignant songs, "Sometimes It Snows in April."
You can read the excerpt below.
The ballad recounts memories of Christopher Tracy, the character Prince portrayed in 1986's Under the Cherry Moon, and is played in the film in the wake of Tracy's sudden death. According to the duo, the song was recorded on April 21, 1985 -- exactly 31 years prior to the day of Prince's own passing.
"I remember hitting notes, and he turned around and gave me the money sign," Coleman recalled in 2017. "That always meant he liked it. And it's just so bizarre to me what that song means to us now. It was April 21 when we wrote it, he died on the same date, and we were writing about a pretend death for a movie [soundtrack] I'm still processing that whole thing."
Though Prince already had the bones of the song in place, the rest of "April" came together remarkably quickly with just the three of them in the studio.
"He had this song idea, but he looked at me and Lisa and was like 'Whatcha got? What can you do on it? Let's do something. Just the three of us,'" said Melvoin. "And so, we came up with the riff and started playing it. It came very fast." So fast, in fact, that when Melvoin asked to redo her vocal recording, Prince said it was just fine and swiftly moved on.
"April" appeared as the closing track on Parade, an album that runs the gamut of sonic styles, but as Melvoin remembers it, "April" was a perfect example of Prince's ability to craft a tender, emotional ballad that felt personal and sincere.
"I could see in him that it allowed him to feel even bigger feelings that weren't overtly sexualized or angry or just bratty, which he's the master at," she said. "He could explore that side that is brokenhearted in a way that doesn't have a pretense or fakery to it."
"'Sometimes It Snows In April' was really the pinnacle of our relationship together [with Prince]," said Coleman. "The three of us had kind of a love affair. And when we wrote that song, it was just the three of us sitting together in a room. I really loved it and had hoped we would follow that trail further. Like make a whole record like that or something. But that didn't happen."
Prince, too, always recognized the connection the trio had formed via "April." On his 2004 Musicology tour, he played the song and dedicated it to Coleman's brother, who had recently passed away.
After Prince's death in 2016, the song received significant attention, charting in several countries. For the most dedicated of Prince fans, including Melvoin and Coleman, the song became a lasting tribute to not only Prince's musical craftsmanship, but also his enduring spirit.
Duane Tudahl's Prince and the Parade and Sign O' The Times Era Studio Sessions: 1985 and 1986 will be released June 7.
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