25 Essential Prince Songs

The best of the Purple One's world-changing, genre-defying hits

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"I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" (1987)

At a certain point, Prince's formidable gifts as a polymath began being taken for granted. In addition to his skills as a singer, songwriter, performer, mogul and multi-instrumentalist, though, there's one role he's never gotten enough credit for: storyteller. "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" was released in 1987, when Prince had cemented his place as a funk icon. But he turned his ninth album Sign O' the Times into a smorgasbord of sounds and approaches – including this short story in power-pop form whose narrative is a poignant, sharply etched portrait of a would-be lover who doesn't want to be a rebound. "Everyone has their own experience," he told the NME in 1996. "That's why we are here, to go through our experience, to learn, to go down those paths and eventually you may have gone down so many paths and learned so much that you don't have to come back again."

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