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Forums > Prince: Music and More > Starfish and Coffee is such a beautiful celebtration of those that see the world in their own unique way
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Thread started 09/27/18 1:21am

dandan

Starfish and Coffee is such a beautiful celebtration of those that see the world in their own unique way



Me and my friend were talking about this song just yesterday and I was telling him the story of how it came to be. In case you don't know, Sussanah Melvoin used to tell Prince about a girl her and Wendy went to school with named Cynthia Rose, who constantly talked about her favourite number being 20 and the reason was 'because it makes me happy!'. She would tell the other kids she had 'starfish and pee pee' for breakfast (much to the horror and disgust of the other children) and was always drawing smiley faces on the windows of the school bus.

It's safe to say that nowadays this girl would be classed as autistic or some other mental condition. Apparently, Prince absolutely loved this story and would often ask Sussanah to tell it to him. I find this very interesting and I wonder if the reason Prince liked the story so much is because, in some way, he identified with Cynthia? Sussanah has talked about how she believed that Prince may have been mildly autistic himself, given his awakward social skills and strange way of commincating with others. Regardless of that however, Prince undeniably saw the world in his own, unique way. His brain processed things in a way that many wouldn't/couldn't. Prince really allowed that side of him to flourish and harnessed that creativity, celebrated it even! And I think that is what really resonated with Prince about Cynthia Rose from Sussanah's story.

'If you set your mind free baby, maybe you'd understand
Starfish and coffee, maple syrup and jam'

I think this line really reveals what the song is about and the message it tries to deliver. The other kids at Sussanah's school were disgusted by Cynthia's talk of starfish and pee pee for breakfast, which is a fine and natural reaction, but Prince proposes that you open your mind a little bit more. To accept that although you may not share Cynthia's view of world, it is no less valid or valuable than your own. My friend, with whom I was talking, works with kids and teenagers who have these issues and struggle socially etc. He was telling me about this 15 year old boy who couldn't look you in the eye and kept his head down and spoke to nobobdy. One day however, after my friend had gained his trust, this boy told him that he liked to take pictures and write about the things that he saw. He ended up showing my friend some of his photography and writings, which my friend described to me as 'absolutely incredible Dan, I almost didn't believe it was his own work'. My friend told me that this boy sees the world completely differently to me and you and it allows him to see photo opportunities in things we wouldn't give a moments thought to. He told the boy that he needs to show his photos and poems to his english teacher because he's got a gift that needs celebrating and nurturing, not hidden away. It's okay to be different! In fact, it's amazing!

'Cynthia had a happy face, just like the one she'd draw
On every wall in every school
But it's all right, it's for a worthy cause
Go on, Cynthia, keep singing!'

It almost comes off as an anthem for those unique people in the world. 'Go on, keep doing what you're doing! It's great! It's wonderful! It's you!'. I think it's truly incredible the way Prince took a simple funny story of a crazy kid in school (we've all got a story like that!) and saw something far more profound in that story than most would. To then go and turn that into a beautiful song, it really is amazing. The very fact he took a throwaway story and turned it into something of value is EXACTLY what the song itself is about! It's hard to explain what I mean there, but oh well!

KEEP SINGING!



.

[Edited 9/27/18 10:23am]

I got two sides... and they're both friends.
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Reply #1 posted 09/27/18 6:43am

HatrinaHaterwi
tz

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I think you explained it quite nicely. Thanks for sharing and let's all keep singing! hug

"Those that KNEW the number and didn't call...FUCK ALL Y'ALL!"
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Reply #2 posted 09/27/18 7:16am

Silvertongue7

I often wonder if the real Cynthia ever heard the sond and what she made out of it. I love it in every possible way, it is such a sweet piece. My best friend has never been a Prince fan as he always says that Prince's music doesn't move him. I told him I was going to change his mind, and played it for him. While he's still not a fan he admited that this song was moving in a way he didn't expect...

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Reply #3 posted 09/27/18 7:22am

violetcrush

Yes, it was a very sweet story about a little girl who may have been on the Spectrum, but also had many sweet and speical qualities. Sadly, even today these kids are ignored or overlooked by their peers, and thought to be strange. It's great that Susannah took the time to know her, protect her, and bond with her on some level.

*

I'm sure Prince identified with Cynthia, and enjoyed listening to the story. It's a beautiful song, and it was clearly a special song to him as he played it regularly thorughout this life.

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Reply #4 posted 09/27/18 7:57am

OldFriends4Sal
e

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I really enjoyed reading this,
this song idea definately fit within the the 1980 Purple Music time frame

#IDEFINEME #ALBUMSSTILLMATTER

A Liar Shall Not Tarry In My Presence

What's the matter with your life
Is poverty bringing U down?
Is the mailman jerking U 'round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In someone else's box?
Tell me, what's the m
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Reply #5 posted 09/27/18 6:07pm

nosajd

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This is one of the songs I sing to my daughter at night. Not so much anymore as she’s getting older, but she loves the song and knows it by heart. She loves the muppets video for it too.
I’ve always loved this song, long before I read about its origin a few years ago. But after learning how the song came about it just made me love this song even more. I think this particular song is one of his most quirky ones while also telling a wonderful story.
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Reply #6 posted 09/27/18 8:09pm

violetcrush

nosajd said:

This is one of the songs I sing to my daughter at night. Not so much anymore as she’s getting older, but she loves the song and knows it by heart. She loves the muppets video for it too.
I’ve always loved this song, long before I read about its origin a few years ago. But after learning how the song came about it just made me love this song even more. I think this particular song is one of his most quirky ones while also telling a wonderful story.

Agreed. Listening to the song and knowing the story of how it came about it is clear that Susannah inspired Prince very much during their time together.
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Reply #7 posted 09/28/18 12:02am

databank

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Silvertongue7 said:

I often wonder if the real Cynthia ever heard the sond and what she made out of it.

I wondered the same: where is this woman now, what was her life like, and is she aware that she was made famous by a song on one of the most celebrated album of the 80's?

A COMPREHENSIVE PRINCE DISCOGRAPHY (work in progress ^^): https://sites.google.com/...iscog/home
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Reply #8 posted 09/28/18 12:04am

Boydie

I am sure you have seen this but just in case here is Prince performing the song with the Muppets, which I think really brings the song to life:

https://youtu.be/TG4PqmShvHI

The really sad thing about this Muppet performance was that I believe they were recorded in the days after his son died, which was kept secret, so it makes the performance even more poignant sad
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Reply #9 posted 09/28/18 9:58am

Wlcm2thdwn3

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biggrin

How long do u wanna be loved? Is forever enough, is forever enough?
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Reply #10 posted 09/28/18 10:18am

violetcrush

Boydie said:

I am sure you have seen this but just in case here is Prince performing the song with the Muppets, which I think really brings the song to life: https://youtu.be/TG4PqmShvHI The really sad thing about this Muppet performance was that I believe they were recorded in the days after his son died, which was kept secret, so it makes the performance even more poignant sad

Prince recorded the Muppets show in September of '96, about one month before his son died. He had also reportedly been planning to release this version of the song on a children's album called Happy Tears. A very sad and tragic time for him sad

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Reply #11 posted 09/28/18 10:22am

violetcrush

violetcrush said:

Boydie said:

I am sure you have seen this but just in case here is Prince performing the song with the Muppets, which I think really brings the song to life: https://youtu.be/TG4PqmShvHI The really sad thing about this Muppet performance was that I believe they were recorded in the days after his son died, which was kept secret, so it makes the performance even more poignant sad

Prince recorded the Muppets show in September of '96, about one month before his son died. He had also reportedly been planning to release this version of the song on a children's album called Happy Tears. A very sad and tragic time for him sad

Here is Prince's response about the meaning of the song on the Love4OneAnother.com fan Q&A in 1997:

*

U: There’s been a discussion going on around the ’net about what Starfish and Coffee means. Can u explain that song? Is it about a mentally challenged girl?

*
prince: Let’s say mentally alternative, or “gifted,” shall we?

*

Very sweet answer smile

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Reply #12 posted 09/28/18 11:26am

OldFriends4Sal
e

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moderator

Image result for starfish & coffee

#IDEFINEME #ALBUMSSTILLMATTER

A Liar Shall Not Tarry In My Presence

What's the matter with your life
Is poverty bringing U down?
Is the mailman jerking U 'round?
Did he put your million dollar check
In someone else's box?
Tell me, what's the m
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Reply #13 posted 09/30/18 6:20am

dandan

Here is Prince's response about the meaning of the song on the Love4OneAnother.com fan Q&A in 1997:


*


U: There’s been a discussion going on around the ’net about what Starfish and Coffee means. Can u explain that song? Is it about a mentally challenged girl?


*
prince: Let’s say mentally alternative, or “gifted,” shall we?


*


Very sweet answer smile



That's just a perfect answer. So glad to find out my thoughts weren't completely off the mark!
I got two sides... and they're both friends.
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Reply #14 posted 09/30/18 1:59pm

FullLipsDotNos
e

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databank said:

Silvertongue7 said:

I often wonder if the real Cynthia ever heard the sond and what she made out of it.

I wondered the same: where is this woman now, what was her life like, and is she aware that she was made famous by a song on one of the most celebrated album of the 80's?

I read somewhere on the Internet a comment made by someone who claimed to be her relative and theysaid she had no social media account, but that she had been aware of the song and had enjoyed it smile

[Edited 9/30/18 14:00pm]

full lips, freckles, and upturned nose
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Reply #15 posted 09/30/18 2:52pm

violetcrush

FullLipsDotNose said:

databank said:

I wondered the same: where is this woman now, what was her life like, and is she aware that she was made famous by a song on one of the most celebrated album of the 80's?

I read somewhere on the Internet a comment made by someone who claimed to be her relative and theysaid she had no social media account, but that she had been aware of the song and had enjoyed it smile

[Edited 9/30/18 14:00pm]

Hmmmm, that sounds suspect. Sorry to be pessimistic, but there are just too many bogus claims out there these days...

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Reply #16 posted 09/30/18 6:55pm

purplethunder3
121

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cool

"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." --Plato
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