Planet Earth was released this week in 2007. The album is notable for containing the greatest expression of digital-age yearning ever set to music.
Prince strikes me as unusually open and vulnerable on “Somewhere Here on Earth.” The song feels retro and jazzy and crackles with desire. It’s Prince’s antidote to the digital age. In 2007, Prince was 49 years old, and you can feel a confident maturity as he grapples with the fact that despite every type of modern technology available to him, what he truly longs for is real, human, face-to-face, skin-to-skin interaction.
And then there is the visually stunning video.
Prince is depicted as living in an ivory tower — or perhaps, behind the snow-white walls of Paisley Park. He’s all alone. I imagine him on the computer, as many of us are right now. He’s addressing a woman who materializes from the ether of the Internet, but who remains, tantalizing, at a distance.
The woman’s dress is made from the same fabric as Prince’s suit. She and Prince are cut from the same cloth.
Now I imagine Prince on a fan website, reading the woman’s declarations of love as she chats with other fans. He can see her photo. He knows she is beautiful. As she types, he can feel her hands on him, “and I like it,” he says, in coy Prince fashion. He longs for her touch. But, too shy to speak, Prince remains a silent watcher behind the veil of the Internet.
She knows he’s not involved with anyone romantically, so why doesn’t she reach out, he wonders? You can feel the devastating separation that fame creates for those we idolize. He has been placed in an ivory tower, up high, on a pedestal. Still, he sees her. He feels a kinship with her. He wants to touch her, too. He wants to love and be loved.
His divorce is behind him and he hasn’t been with anyone in forever. What is she waiting for?
And then Prince hits her with the devastating line, “Do you want to do this at yours, or my place?”
Lord have mercy.
The meeting never materializes. Where is the Prince of old, who would have had the woman in his bed by the end of the video? Instead, we see him accepting the reality that he has to be satisfied with the knowledge that she is out there, somewhere on Earth.
Prince shifts the tone in the final verse, in a way that gently suggests that he knows the hurt and bullying that the woman has suffered during her life. He witnessed it online. He read her words as she confessed about her life and received nothing but harsh words in return. “That’s okay. That’s okay,” he says.
You get the sense that he’s been there, too. He declares that there will be no more hurt. Now is the time for healing. It feels as if he could be speaking to himself, as the male reflection of her.
In the final, brilliant lyrical turn, Prince offers her the same comfort she has brought him. There will be no more hurt, he declares — at least, not as long as he resides on Planet Earth.
Over to you. How do you feel about “Somewhere Here on Earth”?