“Dearly beloved,” the Saturday Night Live actress, Maya Rudolph announced, “we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.”
When she said that 1984 Prince lyric in late January to kick off the taping of “Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince,” she had no idea how prophetic those words would be when the show aired on Tuesday. No one knew how profound and penetrating the COVID-19 pandemic would become.
“Everything that we’ve been singing of his has been prophetic,” Rudolph said in an interview. “All these songs about gun control, ‘am I black or white, straight or gay,’ he’s been telling us this stuff for a long time. It takes people a long time to catch up.”
The two-hour special is studded with stars — from Earth Wind & Fire to Beck — performing Prince songs from the 1980s.
Prince’s magical stage style is evident in video clips, including the 2007 Super Bowl halftime show, in this past Tuesday’s special. The program also features childhood photos and a career overview, with narration by Prince’s close friend from junior high, Jimmy Jam, adding authenticity and credibility.
“There was something poetic being a part of a salute to him,” said Jam, a keyboardist in the Time. “There is no way that is ever going to be accurate enough or good enough to salute him and his reach and his influence. We had like 14 or 16 acts and if you put all them together, it would be hard to make up the greatness that Prince was in one person. His thing was just on a whole other level. Prince does music better than anybody.”
For the past several years, CBS has been taping these all-star specials two days after the Grammys for later broadcast. Organized by the Recording Academy, previous shows saluted the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Motown and Stevie Wonder.