Prince – prolific artist, flamboyant performer, humiliator of Charlie Murphy, funk/rock/R&B/synthpop virtuoso, … and singer of children’s music? With “Starfish and Coffee,” Prince forays into Raffi territory. This odd track from 1987’s Sign o’ the Times is, however, no ordinary children’s song. I don’t know how you currently feel about “Bananaphone” or “Baby Beluga,” but no kid could outgrow “Starfish and Coffee”; the rhythm and melody are ridiculously catchy, and Prince just has too much soul.
“Starfish and Coffee” essentially tells the story of a little girl who seems weird to all her classmates until they learn how to see things her way. Beyond toleration, the song is about engaging with different perspectives that we might not understand. It’s about imagination and possibilities. And that’s why, on September 13, 1997, Muppets Tonight featured a very special guest who at that time was “formerly known as Prince.”
It’s a shame Prince’s Happy Tears project fell apart. Generations will have to keep growing up without the funkiest possible CD of children’s songs with accompanying storybook and read-along cassette tape ever. But at least you can play your children “Starfish and Coffee.” Let’s be real. No kid’s getting cool listening to Brahms in the crib.