Prince Hits the Shops on ‘Calhoun Square’
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
It's hard to say what inspired Prince on any given day. It could have been an errand the musician ran, a quick trip to the store, even Christmas shopping. But we do know the song "Calhoun Square," released on his 1998 compilation Crystal Ball was based on the real-life shopping center of the same name in Chanhassen, Minn. Perhaps he was drawn to People's Organic or Oriental Accupuncture, or just the idea of being an ordinary person in an ordinary place.
"Walk through veils of many colors / If U dare (Do U dare?) / Jasmine, peach and love 4 others / In the air (It's all in the air) / Don't be shocked 2 see your mother / In the chair (Sit down, baby) / Everybody roll 2 the rock and rumble / Calhoun Square (Oh Lord)," he sang in the song's chorus.
It was first recorded on June 15, 1983 at Paisley Studios, nearly five years before its release, and the day after he recorded songs for the ultimately abandoned album The Undertaker, according to PrinceVault.
Keyboardist Morris Hayes, who played on the track, was lucky enough to take a shopping trip with Prince. The Purple One wore a turtleneck sweater and fuzzy boots on their trek to Ace Hardware, Hayes recalled after Prince's death last year. "People are looking like, 'Oh my God, Prince is in the hardware store!'" Hayes said. "He comes and ﬁnds me and he's got a handful of crap—like, 'Can we buy this?’"
And while Prince may have sometimes taken care of ordinary tasks himself, he didn't do it in the ordinary way. "I'm [saying to him], 'What did you do with the car?' Hayes continued. "He says, 'It's out there—it's just running.'
"I said, 'Prince, you can't leave the car running—somebody could just steal the car.' He said, 'This is Chanhassen—nobody's gonna steal the car.'"
Of course, Prince was right. "So we get out to the car and sure enough it's out there, just running, smoke coming out of the tailpipe," Hayes said, "and he's like 'I told you.'"
Then there was the time he went record shopping, just days before his death. He headed over to Minneapolis' Electric Fetus that Saturday in April 2016 to support Record Store Day, where the store's retail music manager Bob Fuchs remembered him purchasing six CDs: Stevie Wonder's Talking Book, Chambers Brothers' The Time Has Come, Joni Mitchell's Hejira, Swan Silvertone's Inspirational Gospel Classics, Missing Persons' The Best of Missing Persons and Santana's Santana IV.
Kendrick Lamar may not have had the Prince shopping experience, but he did visit Paisley Park Studios in 2014 with the intention of getting his idol to record the hook for his new To Pimp a Butterfly's "Complexion (A Zulu Love)." But the two got to talking and ran out of time. Instead, Prince invited Lamar to stick around to watch an event he was hosting that night to celebrate the joint release of Art Official Age and PlectrumElectrum. But Lamar wound up doing more than watch when Prince invited him up on stage, where he began freestyling, before a bit of "Calhoun Square" surfaced.