On Prince (1958-2016)

“A strong spirit transcends rules,” Prince said.

 His music was for the nonconformists, the dreamers, the mad poets, the unapologetically funky. The first music I bought with my own money was a Prince cassette tape that I had to keep hidden because my Mama literally did not play that.

Prince’s fight to control his catalog and own his image and presence as TAFKP set the stage for what we know now as intellectual property. He made it ok to be different, to be strange, to be artistic and creative and answer only to the muses in one’s head. I used to not get why people lost it over Elvis and The Beatles. But I’ll admit I felt some type of way when Johnnie Taylor and Luther Vandross died. I got it when Michael and Whitney died. But now I REALLY get it. I wanted to be Appollonia Kotero. I wanted to be Vanity. I would’ve been ok with trading lives with Lisa and Wendy (who played in his band and got to wear awesome pink furs and go on stage when he won an Oscar for Best Original Score in 1984). But I REALLY wanted to be Sheila E. When I was a little girl, I would dance and lip sync to “The Glamorous Life” in my babysitter Laura’s kitchen. I wanted to live that life when I grew up.

When I became an adult I realized that in writing the song, Prince was reflecting “cynicism for the decadence and materialism of the song’s protagonist, referred to in the third person, who “wants to lead a glamorous life, although she is aware that without love, it ain’t much.” (Wikipedia) And in some ways, maybe you get a sense of that on this blog. I could listen to his music–or Whitney’s or Michael’s–and be five, ten, or fifteen years old again.  Yesterday the music died for me.

Maybe I’m not just crying for Prince. Maybe I’m crying for my aunt and my grandmother too, and the many ways in which the familiar, the beautiful, the precious, the irreplaceable and well-loved elements of my life are being erased and eroded. Prince’s music was always part of the soundtrack.

“Until the end of time/I’ll be there 4 U/U own my heart and mind/I truly adore U/If God one day struck me blind/Your beauty I’d still see/Love’s 2 weak 2 define/Just what U mean 2 me…”-Prince/”Adore”

Image via feelnumb.com

 

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