Follow the Yellow Brick Road: Diamonds and Pearls

After the commercial disappointment of Graffiti Bridge, Prince told USA Today, “It was one of the purest, most spiritual, uplifting things I’ve ever done. Maybe it will take people thirty years to get it. They trashed The Wizard of Oz at first, too.” The liner notes for Prince’s next album, 1991’s Diamonds and Pearls, include acknowledgments ranging from “insomnia” to “Glam Slam,” with the final tip of Prince’s fedora going to The Wizard of Oz. Now, thirty years later, can we better understand Diamonds and Pearls by considering it against the framework of The Wizard of Oz?

Like The Wizard of Oz, Diamonds and Pearls opens with a storm (“Thunder”), then launches us down the yellow brick road. From “Cream” to “Willing and Able,” “Walk Don’t Walk” and “Push,” the majority of the songs are an encouragement about the power, beauty, and intelligence we each have. Diamonds and Pearls is Prince’s declaration that while the journey down the yellow brick road to self-empowerment is filled with challenges, confidence and trust in ourselves is the key that will ultimately open the gates of Oz.

Laura Tiebert

Laura Tiebert, formerly of Chanhassen, MN, is a writer and editor who’s spent several years studying and writing about Prince. Laura is the author of five books, including The Rise of Prince: 1958-1988, which she co-authored with Alex Hahn and which won a national award for biography from Independent Publisher. A lifelong Prince fan, Laura’s experience delving into Prince’s life inspired her to devote an entire year to living like him. Her blog,, became a near-daily exploration of the roadmap Prince left us, showing how to live an extraordinary life. A regular contributor to the Press Rewind podcast hosted by Jason Breininger, Laura also speaks frequently on how to live like Prince and is creating an online course which will launch later in 2021. Rather than simply admiring Prince, Laura encourages fans to take a walk in his shoes — because we’re all capable of so much more than we realize.

The Rise of Prince: 1958-1988