Shout out to Housequake.com for sharing an amazing interview with Prince‘s one-time love interest, Susannah Melvoin, about the classic song “Starfish and Coffee” from his 1987 album Sign o’ the Times. In addition to being Wendy Melvoin‘s (of the Revolution) twin sister, Susannah was also a member of the jazzy purple outfit, The Family. She was even fortunate enough to have a song named after her with “Susannah’s Pajamas,” which was on the group’s self-titled LP. In the interview, she goes into detail about the origins of the song, which have always been a bit of a mystery.
Find out for yourself below:
“I remember Minneapolis vividly. The air smells of water and earth and the lakes that spread throughout the city become deserted of people. I loved it and I loved what was to become an extremely beautiful time in my life. I can narrow down one particular day in 1986 that was particularly special: the day I wrote Starfish and Coffee with Prince.
Sitting around the kitchen table would be Prince, his engineer Susan Rogers, and myself. It was a time Susan and myself spent every day with Prince recording or keeping each other company. Prince and I spent many hours together, either in the studio working or driving around Minneapolis talking to each other and listening to music. We talked about our histories and our secrets, and on a couple of occasions I told him stories of a 12 year-old girl I had known named Cynthia Rose.
My sister Wendy and I knew Cynthia intimately because we shared six years together in a classroom, plus a bus ride to school with her. It was on these bus rides that I got to know Cynthia.
Cynthia never had much interest outside of her own personal space, so watching her was an unedited version of what was going on her head. I’m certain if Cynthia were in school today, she’d still be as interesting and extraterrestrial as she was back then. I think Cynthia was dropped off from another world. A world filled with extraordinary images. Images only Cynthia knew the meaning behind.
Her favorite number for many years was the number 12. I knew this because she’d rock back and forth in her seat asking you if you knew what her favorite number was for the day. It was always a shock to her that anyone knew that her favorite number was 12. I’d say, “I think it’s twelve, right Cynthia?” She was totally amazed and joyous that I had guessed it right. I mean, who’d have guessed it?
I’d watch how she would ecstatically experience the world. Cynthia would tell you over and over again how amazing and meaningful the number 12 was. I’d ask her “why?” The answer never changed. It was always “because it makes me happy,” said as she etched a huge happy face with her finger on the damp foggy bus window. Most of those bus rides Cynthia sat rocking in her seat, gently repeating her favorite number.
Cynthia would also tell me what she had for breakfast, and every day it was the same: Starfish and PEE PEE! I never understood the combo meal. And frankly nobody else could, either. This seemed like the deal breaker for most kids. More importantly, the kids in our class had no interest in how Cynthia came to get her morning breakfast! I thought it was tender and funny and I listened to her tell me anything she wanted to say, whether it was firmly planted on earth or from her planet of tender-hearted people who love numbers and draw smiley faces on foggy bus windows.
Read the rest of the interview via Housequake.com here.
And in case you forgot how amazing this song is, check out Prince singing it along with the Muppets.