“How Come U Don’t speak to Me Anymore?” feels in countless ways prefer Prince’s Ur-song: a pure expression the the carnal and emotional longing in ~ his core, drawn from the deep fine of the afri American music tradition.

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Steinway grand piano in ~ Sunset Sound; bottle of Asti Spumante no pictured. Photo stolen native Wax Poetics.

From their very first session with each other in 1981, Peggy McCreary had actually been Prince’s go-to L.A. Recording engineer. McCreary, a.k.a. “Peggy Mac,” to be a former waitress in ~ Hollywood hotspot the Roxy Theatre who had worked her method up with the ranking to come to be the very first female employee engineer at Sunset Sound, through credits on documents by small Feat, Kris Kristofferson, valve Halen, and also Elton John. Once she gained the Prince gig, it to be “just a fluke,” she freshly told Variety. “I was obtainable the weekend that Hollywood Sound called and said, ‘Our board went down, do you have actually an engineer and also room?’” (Aswad 2019). Yet the artist’s salacious reputation had actually preceded him: “the receptionist said, ‘Peggy can’t job-related alone in the studio top top the weekend through him. That writes really dirty songs around giving head and stuff,’” McCreary recalled come Pitchfork. “I thought, ‘Oh God. Who’s gonna it is in walking into the studio?” (Sodomsky 2019).

As it turned out, the human being who came down on Sunset Sound the weekend to be “extremely polite, quiet… short”–a far cry indigenous the oversexed libertine of Dirty Mind infamy (Kiene 2019). In fact, Prince to be so demure the McCreary uncovered him an overwhelming to understand: “He would mumble what he required from behind a flap that hair,” she recalled. She lastly had to face him directly: “I said, ‘You know what? If you desire me to work with you, you’re walking to have to talk to me, to my face, for this reason I have the right to hear you!’” (Sodomsky 2019). Sensing she’d offended him, McCreary presume they’d never ever work with each other again; yet when he returned to the studio the complying with January, he requested her for the session.

Soon, the no-nonsense engineer and also the reticent wunderkind had developed a close, if sometimes dysfunctional, functioning relationship. Peggy and also Prince “were always about to kill each other,” the Time’s guitarist Jesse Johnson said sessionographer Duane Tudahl, “but she got such a great sound top top everything.” McCreary continued to bristle at Prince’s aloof manner and workaholic tendencies: “He didn’t appreciate mistakes,” she later on recalled. “Nobody does, however mistakes happen. It’s just human being error”–something Prince had little patience for (Tudahl 2018 48). Yet he was likewise capable of showing his appreciation, albeit in mostly idiosyncratic ways. That christened “Colleen,” one unreleased critical recorded ~ above January 15, after ~ McCreary’s center name (Aswad 2019). Top top January 11–McCreary’s birthday–he dubbed her into the studio to record another track. “I was like, God, can not he provide me my birthday off? Shit!” she called Pitchfork. Yet at the finish of the session, “he stood there at the door v a tiny smile ~ above his face and also threw the cassette at me and also said, ‘Happy birthday’” (Sodomsky 2019). The track, a “rockabilly song” referred to as “You’re All ns Want,” continues to be in she possession come this day.

Perhaps McCreary’s warmest storage of Prince took ar on the evening of April 28, 1982, once he asked her out of the blue what she favored to drink. “I stated ‘Remy Martin, why?’” McCreary recalled come Variety. “And he said ‘Order a party of Remy martin a bottle of Asti Spumant.’ never let my guard under in the studio–you did no f up roughly him, it was terrible if girlfriend did–so ns said, ‘No, Prince, i don’t wanna drink.’” but Prince insisted; and a couple of drinks later, that was playing the cool piano in Studio 2 that Sunset Sound, singing and also keeping time with his feet on the pedals. McCreary psychic “being buzzed and thinking ‘Is this track really as good as ns think it is?’” (Aswad 2019).

I remember being buzzedand reasoning ‘Is this song reallyas an excellent as ns think it is?’

Peggy McCreary
Another check out of the Steinway piano and isolation booth Prince provided to document “How Come U Don’t speak to Me Anymore?” in ~ Sunset Sound; photograph stolen indigenous the Current.

The track was “How Come U Don’t call Me Anymore?”; and, McCreary was later relieved come confirm, it yes, really was that good. A bluesy soul ballad cut from the same towel as tracks prefer “So Blue,” “Still Waiting,” and “Gotta broken Heart Again,” that is pristine craft and execution is sufficient to do those previously songs feel prefer clumsy an initial drafts. Indeed, “How Come U Don’t contact Me Anymore?” feeling in plenty of ways choose Prince’s Ur-song: a pure expression the the carnal and emotional longing at his core, drawn from the deep well of the afri American musical tradition.

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As the title suggests, “How Come U Don’t contact Me Anymore?” belongs to the subgenre of pop songs about missed relations on the telephone; yet unlike most of the antecedents (the Beatles’ “No Reply,” electrical Light Orchestra’s “Telephone Line,” the Nerves’ “Hanging ~ above the Telephone”), this song puts Prince’s narrator in the passive place of waiting for a contact that never comes. That tries to fill the lack with memory of previous intimacy: “I store your picture beside mine bed / and also I quiet remember every little thing you said.” when this no longer works, he dwells top top the lack itself: “I constantly thought our love to be so right / ns guess i was not correct / constantly thought you’d it is in by mine side, mama / now you’re gone.” Finally, he presses the issue: “What I want to know, baby, what we had actually was an excellent / exactly how come friend don’t contact me anymore?”

The lyrics of “How Come U Don’t call Me Anymore?” are an effective in your simplicity. Mostly, though, the track is a vocal showpiece: a chance for Prince to display off his increasingly elastic range, through dexterous leaps indigenous pristine falsetto come throat-shredding screams and back. The intimacy the the performance is spellbinding; with few exceptions–the multi-tracked backing vocals ~ above the chorus, the echoing reverb when he hits the last “please” on the bridge–it sounds favor he’s live in the studio. When he breaks right into his speaking voice for the sometimes sonorous beside (“It’s just one lousy dime, baby”), girlfriend can practically hear his breath ~ above the microphone. And also when the track fades out–too early, in the estimation of Peggy Mac, who teased the presence of an extensive version in her interview with Variety–the effect is like reluctantly waking increase from a dream.

For those of us not lucky sufficient to be Peggy McCreary in April 1982, the closest we’ll concerned experiencing the rest of the dream is the previously-unreleased second take that the song, which was newly unearthed for 2019’s Super luxurious edition that 1999. The take it is, in the words of Tudahl’s liner notes because that the set, “even an ext intimate” than the original (Tudahl 2019 31). Prior to Prince starts playing, he deserve to be heard telling McCreary, “Whenever you’re ready.” He’s already begun to embellish the piano component he’d videotaped for the an initial time previously that night: hammering the end a doo-wop-style eighth-note rhythm through his ideal hand while playing the much more familiar chord progression with his left. There is no the studio polishing of the grasp take, the sounds much more vulnerable: his voice dropping virtually to a whisper as soon as he sings, “it was good before,” then transforming ragged as he croons, “I can’t was standing bein’ alone.” The take it ends, not v the pyrotechnic screen the original seemed come be structure toward, however with a beautifully melancholy minor-key flourish. Together the continual notes die away, girlfriend can also hear Prince stand up from the piano stool to leaving the booth. When I first heard take 2 that “How Come U Don’t call Me Anymore?”, i was a tiny disappointed the it wasn’t an extended mix the the variation I already knew and also loved; now, though, I appreciate it together something even much more astonishing: a wholly unique reimagining of the track that is just as perfect in its very own way.