Maybe I take some things for granted. The sun will rise, the sun will set. Maybe the two copies of 1999 on cassette tape that I burned through in 1982-1983 were a sign of the times. Music has always been a focal point of my life. My memories are connected to songs, when I hear things I become a time traveler, immediately back at the moment – I feel as I did then, I can smell the air, sense the energy, feel the teen angst, and sometimes the butterflies are too much. Flashing back to being 12 or 13 isn’t necessarily a fun thing to have happen frequently. When the song that brings me back is a Prince song, the memories are always good, powerful, energetic, positive… fun or funny.
In 1983 my Family moved from Palo Alto, California to Old Westbury, New York. We went via an extended trip to French Polynesia after a month at camp in Santa Barbara. I felt new after my stint at “fat camp” where friends shared my love of music – we played our Sony Walkman(men) all the time, sharing the songs – or soundtracks – of our lives. My soundtrack was the album 1999. I had been obsessed with radio and music for years, but rarely did I listen to an album from start to finish, 1999 was the first, and since then every Prince album has followed suit.
The Summer of 1983 Prince was my best friend, my constant companion. The message was fun, joy, life is short, celebrate, be yourself, be free, be creative. A powerful combination of messages. He gave me strength, energy and confidence to move forward in a huge life changing time. I was 13, I was moving 3,000 miles to an unknown place to start high school and all my friends were back in California.
Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you, I only want you to have some fun…” Prince, 1999
There was something in those songs, in every piece of music Prince wrote (those that have been released, I am sure the same is true for all the songs in the “vault” that will follow soon, expanding his powerful legacy) that connected with the human spirit, condition and consciousness. He was a genius, self-taught, a prodigy of the magnitude of Mozart or Beethoven. A true genius, if you research some of the conversations he has had with people you realize his mind was swimming with ideas, concepts, and images. Those kinds of minds are not common, those are the ones who connect with something higher, and don’t fear it, don’t tell it to stop because of the loss of control. Those are the spirits that press on and change the world.
It takes a loss sometimes to make you realize what we had, to truly appreciate the power of the talent, message, meaning or contribution. I have mourned the loss of many icons of my childhood, the musicians touch me the most, but none has felt like such a huge void as the loss of Prince Rogers Nelson. He was remarkable, he was one of a kind, he was truly a real human doing what he loved and not compromising himself or his identity, for fame.
I did not know Prince personally, but all I can think is that he had so much more to give, and will give. He was an artist, or The Artist, he gave and he also drew the line clearly in the sand. He had courage, strength and passion, in a diminutive frame. The power was too great, now it is everywhere.
Thank you Prince. You are missed.