Prince was a revolution. It was in his creativity, which gave life to genre-spanning, soul-funkifying music. It was in his political activism, from HIV/AIDS awareness, Hurricane Katrina aftermath, and Black Lives Matter. It also was in his fight for artists’ rights.
I can’t believe he’s gone.
Prince. The guy with the yellow assless pants. The guy who changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. The one who was incredibly petite, but lived life big and unafraid.
“The most important thing is to be true to yourself, but I also like danger. That’s what’s missing from pop music today. There’s no excitement or mystery,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1982.
My earliest memory of Prince was when my older sister brought home the album Purple Rain. I remember staring at the album cover when she wasn’t around, intrigued by the shiny dark street, the woman at the top of the stairs but most of all the look in his eyes. I was 7 years old, but I remember wondering what he was thinking. Then I saw the movie, which over the years I’ve seen an untold amount of times. I can never watch it sitting down because I have to dance and sing along.
Then came the song Kiss, where I was introduced to the idea that I didn’t have to be cool to rule a boy’s world. I could easily chronicle key points in my life with his discography, but I’ll spare you those details.
I always admired how he didn’t allow the fear of consumers’ fickleness to silence him. He challenged racial stereotypes from the beginning of his career, wrote songs that were anti-war (telling then-President Ronald Reagan in 1987 to talk with Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev to end the Cold War.)
His songs, speeches and philanthropic works also focused on America’s apathy to issues such as racism, poverty, police brutality and drug use. It reminded me of other entertainment activists from previous generations such as Muhammad Ali, Harry Belafonte, Nina Simone, Ruby Dee, Sidney Portier, the list goes on and on. I really wish more of today’s stars had that kind of courage. Just imagine the difference it could make.
But back to the main man, Prince. I was fortunate enough to see him in concert in Chicago several years ago and it was like a religious experience. The energy he gave the crowd was infectious. Like most people who have seen him live say: it was one of the best concerts I’ve seen. And it wasn’t just him who was good. I remember being amazed at his drummer, who I was certain had eight arms. It was the only way possible for him to drum like that.
Prince believed in surrounding yourself with good people, talented people, people who can help you grow. What a great life lesson that is, right? Actually there’s many great lessons tucked into the lyrics of his music. I’ve been reading them since I first heard the news hours ago.
This is the first time that I’ve cried over a musician’s death. In fact, I’m still processing it. (This blog post is to help with that.) I’m kind of surprised I’m so emotional about it, I mean I’m not the weepy type. Still, I suppose it’s because Prince has been a soundtrack of my life and now he’s gone.
“I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you
Laughing in the purple rain.”
– “Purple Rain” (1984)
Prince was a hilarious guy, so I suppose he wouldn’t want us all moping around over his death. I’ll mope tonight, I’m allowed that, but tomorrow, I’ll be sure to remember with a smile how his press and curl was as fierce as his stiletto boots.
Thank you for everything oh great and fantastic Purple One.