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Why All The Fascination With A New Prince Song?

Prince performs onstage in March 2005.
Kevin Winter
Getty Images
Prince performs onstage in March 2005.

Prince died one year ago today, and for the first anniversary, fans had been told to expect six new songs, as part of an EP titled Deliverance. The first single, also called "Deliverance," is a soaring, stirring mix of rock and gospel.

It's also the subject of a highly publicized legal challenge: The six songs on Deliverance were recorded by Prince's sound engineer, George Ian Boxill, around 2006; Boxill cleaned them up for release and was set to release them himself. Prince's estate, claiming ownership of the recordings, requested a temporary injunction on Wednesday, and a federal judge agreed. For now, Deliverance is in limbo, though its first single is still available for streaming and sale. (Because the injunction was against the release of the EP and not the single, the latter is apparently fair game, though more legal challenges may follow.)

In this discussion, NPR's Steve Inskeep raises several key questions: What are the arguments for and against release? Why the fascination with a new Prince song? And, given the many logistical and ethical issues involved, when is the right time to put out an album posthumously?

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)