For a tiny man, Prince sure has some big ones - controversial beliefs, that is. His purple majesty has declared, in a Britain's Mirror newspaper that "the Internet is completely over," and then added - before making the poor reporter accompany him on drums to a Beatles song - ''I don't see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else.''
Instead, on Saturday, he will be giving his new music away on that packet ship of the old media, a newspaper: Every copy of the Mirror (yes, the newspaper to which he granted the interview, are you surprised?) will contain 20TEN, Prince's new album. It won't be available online or in shops, although I don't think it will be long before some enterprising fan makes it available digitally. It didn't take long for Planet Earth, the CD that Prince released through Britain's Mail on Sunday in 2007, to become available for download.
The review of 20TEN that appears in today's Mirror is giddy with praise (does anyone else smell cross-platform promotional magic here? That's a terrible name for a perfume anyway.) Tony Parsons calls it "truly momentous" and says the 10-track CD is Prince's "best record since Sign o' the Times 23 years ago." Songs are described as "classic Prince," "his most funky," and in at least one case, quite topical, when he sings about "dirty fat bankers."
Meanwhile, Prince's least favourite medium is red-hot with indignation at this insult to its omnipotence. How dare he compare the Internet's cool factor to MTV (ouch!) and claim that "all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers."
I'm not sure why people are shocked. Prince, a musical innovator and high priest of horndog, has always been deeply conservative. He's taken on the digital realm before, refusing to allow his music on YouTube or to make it available for download. He's private, and enigmatic, and religious, and he even loathes tape recorders.
I know this because I interviewed him in 1996, when he was known simply as The Artist and was writing "Slave" on his face to protest his record contract with Warner Bros. I showed up to find a Macy's parade of hangers-on, and a lovely, calm fellow in the centre who told me I could take notes, but not use a tape recorder. Why not? He smiled, cat-like, and said, "You'll get more from the vibe." I didn't ask whether he recorded his music using two Dixie cups and a piece of string.
Say what you will about the man, he does know how to create mystery - and hype.