I was dreamin’ when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray.
It does kind of feel like a dream, a bad one. Prince died yesterday and as of this moment, all we have is speculation. The internet exploded with messages of sadness, disbelief, and weariness at losing yet another mega talented musician this year. Along with messages of grief and condolences people are beginning to share their memories of how Prince and his music affected their lives.
There are periods of my life that are inextricably linked to Prince’s music. When I hear a certain song I am transported back in time. I’m sure many people feel the same and I am looking forward to hearing their stories. Prince and his Purple Reign live on as people remember the artist, his music, and the effect he had on our lives. For now, here are some of mine:
I vividly remember being 11 years old and belting out the Darling Nikki lyrics, “I knew a girl named Nikki, I guess you could say she was a sex fiend. I met her in a hotel lobby masturbating with a magazine,” and my sister gasping and asking me if I knew what those words meant. I said, “Yes, of course,” then immediately dug out the dictionary as soon as she left the room. When I figured out the meaning to those lyrics, instead of feeling embarrassed, I felt more mature and just a little bit dangerous. This is the moment the love affair began with Prince. I was in a hurry to grow up and he helped me do that.
Lovesexy hit the airwaves when I was 15 and…hormonal. Very hormonal. I had a less than stellar boyfriend and simultaneously, a heartbreaking crush on another boy who was everything my boyfriend wasn’t: smart, beautiful, and athletic. 15 year-old decision-making isn’t always logical. The Prince cassette played on repeat for a year at least, and this album showed me another side of Prince, and of myself. With songs like “I Wish You Heaven” (my fave!) and “Positivity,” I began to understand that Prince was more than just a quirky guy with interesting music about getting down with the sexy times, he was also a person who understood that a good attitude is a gift you can give to yourself and others. It changed how I made personal choices.
The Hits/The B-Sides Disc 1 and 2
Come on now! How can anyone survive so much awesomeness in one place? These two compilation albums brought some of Prince’s older songs back to the forefront and showcased many of his hit singles. “Soft and Wet” was recorded in 1978 and it’s as deliciously naughty as its title implies. These albums also featured songs Prince originally wrote and recorded, but were later covered and popularized by other artists. It doesn’t get any better than hearing Prince sing “I Feel For You” (Chaka Khan), “When you Were Mine” (Cyndi Lauper), and “Nothing Compares To You” (Sinead O’Conner).
These two albums have a special place in my heart. They helped me survive writing super dry tech manuals for an IT billing system and at the same time let me enjoy a non-Prince fan (there IS such a thing, strangely) react to some of his music. One day a coworker friend of mine asked what I was listening to and she picked up my disc case. She said, “There’s a song called “Head” on here. Is that song about what I think it’s about?” It was (and is), and I let her know she was welcome to borrow the CD and listen. She borrowed the disc and although she didn’t say much when she handed it back, there was a definite smile and a tinge of pink on her cheeks. Priceless.
Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic
This album is as cool as it gets. There’s everything from a cover of Sheryl Crow’s “Everyday Is A Winding Road,” to “Hot Wit U” (the perfect song to get your date night started), and “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold,” now that will really get your date night started, or leave you with a happy ending. I’m leaving my personal memories out of this one, thankyouverymuch.
Musicology took us back to Prince’s mainstream pop vibe and has some excellent tunes. “Illusion, Coma, Pimp, & Circumstance” is my favourite song from this album, but “Life ‘o’ The Party,” and “What Do U Want Me 2 Do?” are all super great too. This album will forever be attached to my first girls’ night out with my sister following the birth of my first two babies. She came to visit me for my birthday and we went out to a club and danced until we couldn’t stand. The album was on repeat all the way to the club and back home and when I nursed my baby back to sleep later that night, Prince’s songs replaced traditional lullabies. It’s important to give your kids a good musical foundation from the get go.
There was something totally intriguing about Prince; he was a man who thumbed his nose at the rules of propriety and made no apologies for being overtly provocative. It’s likely the reason so many people were drawn to him. His talent was undeniable, but it was his authenticity that made him a true superstar.
After years of being a superfan, I saw Prince in concert for the first time on March 25th, 2016. The wait was worth it! That experience was on my bucket list of things to experience before I died. The thought that it was something to experience before Prince died never occurred to me, or probably to his legions of fans, because Prince was no mere mortal. And that remains true, no matter where he’s hanging now. Prince left so much of himself behind for us to enjoy that our great-great-grandkids will be enjoying first dates the same way we did.
Maybe Prince believed that too, at least the lyrics from “I Would Die 4 U” make me think it’s a possibility:
I’m not a human
I am a dove
I’m your conscious
I am love