As I got older Prince was a common theme. I remember looking at MAD magazine when they would parody Purple Rain and I wanted so badly to see it (although I wasn't allowed to). I remember going to a religious revival at the local High School when I was a kid, not because I was interested in becoming religious, but because I had heard that Prince's ex-bodyguard, Big Chick, was going to be there because he was "born again". I just wanted to hear all about Prince! I remember finally getting to watch Purple Rain at my friend, Monica's house when I was like 14, even though it had been out for like 10 years. For my high school Junior Prom, our theme was "Let's Go Crazy" even though that song had come out in the early 80's! It didn't matter....it was voted as the song for our Prom in 1995! When I worked in the music Department at Barnes & Noble, Prince was often a topic of conversation with me and my friend, Ken, who was a huge fan as well We'd talk for hours about his music (some amazing, some totally awful), his life and how he influenced us. My best friend Becky and I used to listen to the Purple Rain soundtrack all the time and watch the movie, quoting it throughout the years. Let's have some asses wiggling...I want some perfection!!
The point of this timeline is that through all the fun times of my life, Prince seemed to show up in one form or another. Some of my musical choices have come and gone, but he has always remained a constant. I've seen him go from a kid playing in the clubs of Minneapolis, to a big time performer, to a symbol formerly known as Prince and back to his name again. He's put out amazing dance tracks that are timeless and still will make that ass wiggle to this day. But, he's also put out beautiful, emotional work we can all relate to and some that is so off the charts out there and weird that it has left even the most devoted fan saying "What the hell??" Through it all Prince did one thing that is so very hard to do in his industry...He stayed completely true to himself. If he felt he was slipping...he put up that middle finger to the industry and changed his name, dropped his "slave" label, changed his look, changed his music, fought for his artistic freedom and never, ever allowed someone to dictate who he was and what his art was supposed to look like.
I love Prince for that. He was truly a unique and creative genius. He didn't win American Idol or The Voice. He worked very very hard to make a name for himself the old fashioned way. He knew he had something to offer the world and he did just that on his terms. No one could dull his shine, no one could wipe that coy smirk off his face. He could sweep you off your feet, or kick you in the gutter depending on his mood. Prince was as real as they get. He was larger than life in musical talent. He was music, sex, art, freedom, expression, swagger and vulnerability all rolled into his petite little package. I am really sad that the world has lost him today. That I lost him today. To some generations he is just a Dave Chapelle joke, but to many others he was an innovator, raw amazing talent and the brightest star in the galaxy. Shine on where ever you are now, Prince. I will keep the music playing for the rest of my years. You can bet on that!