Prince: Our Revolutionary:
My Gold Cover copy of the Love Symbol album by Prince and the New Power Generation
Prince was ours and it feels like he knew that, that there was no alternative because he had so much to share, so much he had and wanted to express. I feel lucky. I feel lucky to have been alive at the same time as him and everything he put out there into the universe. I’ll miss him. I miss him. Wow, that feels weird to say, like it’s not yet real he’ll never create a new chord, or give a cheeky smile during a performance, or drop some science on the closed-minded of the world while giving light to those who need and want it.
Man. Prince. I haven’t yet fully wrapped my brain around the fact that he’s gone from this life. This person whose personality, music, heart, activism, creativity, brilliance, and all the rest that have been a part of my life since I was like 12 years old is gone. I mean, PRINCE. When the news started breaking, my brain became a jukebox, jumping from song to song, which then led to memory after memory related to each one of them. Those memories span more than 30 years. I don’t remember exactly which song I heard first, but I do remember that I already knew who he was when the “1999” album was coming out because I was so excited to get to the record store and buy that cassette tape. My best guess is something from either “Controversy” or “Dirty Mind” came across the airwaves of one of several stations in Cleveland at that time that played the up and coming and new stuff, especially those early days of the 80’s and the extraordinary volume of talent popping up all over.
Sidebar: Prince always ran neck and neck with Duran Duran for top spot in my music world. Their debut album of the same name, I mean, c’mon: “Girls On Film”, “Plane Earth”, “Careless Memories”, “Anyone Out There”… me thinks Prince would approve of this momentary divergence. He too relished in all types of music.
Without really understanding it in exact terms or specific words, I knew the first time I heard him sing and saw a picture – motion in a still image he was – , Prince was someone who would understand me. He could and did make it feel OK to express myself, especially when those expressions weren’t within the current societal norms of my particular pocket of culture. Further, he made it OK, interesting, and exciting to explore and experience other cultures and people at the personal level – the guy who wore the zoot suit walking down the street, the first male friend who told me he thinks he likes other boys, the woman who wore her hair ultra short and didn’t wear makeup – all these ‘simple’ things that mean so much. Self expression. Feeling safe in doing it. Or, at least, feeling brave and doing it, no matter the possible reactions from others. If Prince did it, I could do it.
This will probably be somewhat of a ramble but, it’s Prince. There’s so much to say, countless memories, a lot of them shared with friends, thoughts about what else this man might have shared with us, and about which to smile and feel that joy. I want this to be a celebration, just like his live shows. My gosh, his live shows.
Before the bucket list became a thing, I marked one off when a cousin and a friend of mine and I went to see the Purple One in concert nearly fifteen years ago. I almost couldn’t believe it, even as we made our way from the parking garage to the venue, a smile threatening to permanently stretch my face, just like our parents told us it would freeze like that. The place was packed, of course, and we had seats on the floor (with chairs and everything LOL) about 15 or 20 rows back (the memory is fuzzy on that part) with a fantastically perfect view of the stage. Of course, no one sat. I mean, how could you?? This was Prince! Party on the stage! Through the entire show, between songs, he would massively tease us with just a bar or two from one of his most famous tracks, a different one each time, as if he and the band were about to launch into “Purple Rain” or “Little Red Corvette” or “Delirious” or something. (Are you singing in your head, has your mental jukebox started? 😉 ) And each time, everyone screamed. Each time, the four young guys behind us would fanboy like all good fanboys do and it was BRILLIANT. They added as much to the show as being there with my friend and my cousin, experiencing Prince and that body thrumming joy his musicianship, showmanship, and singing gave me. What a night!!! Did you get to see him perform live? I want to hear your story, too!
Told you, rambly. 😉
Over the last few days, many have talked about Prince’s gender bending through his performances, lyrics, and fashion. When looking back, he was so far ahead of his time in this sense, working his ass off to bring as many of us with him in the public eye for all to see. I’m so tempted to use the word ‘redefining’, something beyond bending and shaping, but that’s not it. Everything he was doing had been done somewhere before, behind closed doors. He wanted to bust them open and, not just that but, make it safe to do so. To make everyone feel it’s OK to just be who you are and live that way, live who you are. My gosh, that’s what we witnessed him do, live who is.
What are your top 3 or 5 or however many tracks? I know, I know, it’s a difficult trick for me to narrow it down, too! How about top 3 or 5 albums instead of songs? I’m not sure I can do that either, but I’ll highlight the double LP “Sign O’ The Times”, both for content and for the cover. I mean, look at this cover!
And every song on this double album is a masterpiece. Every track makes me feel something, they transport me, making me think. Prince was always telling a story in his songs. His lyrics painted a situation, or shared a memory, or pled a case for the future and bettering it for everyone. SO many topflight songs on this LP: “Starfish and Coffee”, “Strange Relationship”, “Slow Love”, “Hot Thing”, “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”… and on and on and on!!
I know your head is full now, that jukebox is jumpin’, idn’t it. 😀
I of course had to pull out said tapes and CD’s and a 45 I still have. Which, of course, is for “I Would Die 4 U”.
I have so many memories of this man and his music, and his efforts to help others, and to create a better world for those who are constantly threatened with being sidelined in society, and worse.
While in college (early 90’s), a friend was studying to become and worked as a DJ at the campus radio station. She sometimes worked overnights spinning the records to make some extra dough and would let me come into the studio with her, where she allowed me to choose which tracks to play. There were industry mags lying around and she would let me thumb through them and rip out pages I liked that featured artists or had cool ads for a single or album coming out. One of those ads featured something about Prince and Paisley Park. I don’t remember the focus of the ad but I do remember it included the phone number to PP. And I called that number, like many, and loved that someone actually answered… at Paisley Park.
Hunting for extended play (EP) albums and eventually CDs, including one I found at Skool Kids records at that same college, coming across one for “Erotic City”. It became mine and still is, and you can see it in that pic above.
Watching him perform on Solid Gold, an early 80s show that mixed performance and a countdown show with dancers, climbing all over a golden trellis/jungle gym structure, slithering and sliding around, sexy as all get out.
The first time I saw “Purple Rain”.
Those assless lacey yellow pants. Need i say more? I could, for a long time, and not run out of things to share. What are some of your memories, maybe ones you hadn’t thought about in years and made you smile and cry all at once? I would love to hear them and share our love for this incredible human being. For Prince.
Thank you, Prince, for everything you shared with me, made me feel, and helped me feel strong enough to do.
We gonna play in the sunshine
We’re gonna get over
I’m feelin’ kind of lucky 2 night
I’m gonna find my 4-leaf clover
Before my life is done
Some way, some how, I’m gonna have fun
Play in the sunshine
We gonna love all our enemies
Till the gorilla falls off the wall
We’re gonna rock him
We’re gonna roll him
We’re gonna teach him that love will make him tall (somehow)
*Lyrics from “Play In the Sunshine” by Prince, copyright 1987
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