This one hurts

I’ve lost musical idols before … and when each of them died, I was sad. What I was not, however, was deeply surprised. They were guys who played with fire for years, and it eventually consumed them.

But Prince? Fucking Prince? Prince tells the fire what to do. Prince controls the elements. Prince is an element. You can look it up: there’s earth, wind, fire, water and Prince.

I was 14 when “Purple Rain” blew up. Thirty-two years later, it remains one of the greatest albums of all time … and if you came of age in the ’80s and possess even the smallest sliver of good musical taste, you wholeheartedly agree.

Purple Rain

For an awkward, insecure, pubescent, scrawny-little suburban white kid who always felt out of place and whose solace came from immersing himself in music, that album was life-changing. Pop, funk and rock mixed together and delivered by a mysterious, androgynous little black dude who could sing his ass off and absolutely shred the ever-loving hell out of an electric guitar? Yes, please. I’m all in.

And even though I was still a (pathetically) long way from finding out what the whole sex thing was about, I knew from the way Prince played and sang that it had to be all kinds of awesome. I wasn’t exactly sure what Nikki was up to in that hotel lobby, but you can bet your ass I couldn’t wait to find out.

Do you even remember how huge (and prolific) Prince was back then? Here, let me remind you:

prince

* * *

Prince was musical creativity personified, and a genre unto himself … and if scientists had announced that they’d discovered Prince wasn’t actually human, it would have been perfectly believable, because he was an otherworldly entity who seemed to defy the laws of time and aging.

Need proof? OK, here it is:


[UPDATE: Apparently, the douche nozzles at the NFL won’t let anyone embed the video, so you’ll have to go view it on YouTube. Please do so, because it should not to be missed.]

That is, without a doubt, the single most epic Super Bowl Halftime performance of all time. No lip-sync bullshit, just a straight-up, I-own-this-motherfucker display of unrivaled bad-assery and musical prowess … and he did it TWENTY-THREE YEARS after “Purple Rain.” The man’s biggest album of all time came out in 1984 … and, nearly a quarter-century later, he remained so vital and relevant that not only was he asked to headline the most widely viewed annual event on television, but he kicked the living shit out of it … in the middle of a rain storm … while displaying a level of swagger and self confidence that mere mortals can only dream of.

And, hey, by the way? I would be grossly remiss if I didn’t also point out what an unbelievably gifted guitar player he was. Though the instrument for which he’s known best is his voice, he was a six-string virtuoso of Hendrixian proportions.

Exhibit A:


[Prince’s epic solo starts at about 3 minutes and 30 seconds in, but the whole performance is worth watching.]

Prince’s death has rattled me more than that of any musician who has passed before him. His music is woven into the fabric of who I am, and the fact that he no longer exists feels wrong. He’s one of the cultural blocks upon which I built my foundation, and to have that block suddenly disappear has shaken me up … both because of the loss in and of itself, and because his death serves as an unwelcome reminder that the clock is ticking for all of us.

And I know we all die eventually. It’s part of the deal. But Prince? Dead at 57? That’s not the way it’s supposed to go down. Not at all.

Thanks for all the music and creativity you shared with us, Prince. I wish you hadn’t left so early.

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9 Comments

  1. Karen B.
    Posted April 24, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Me too. All of it. Taking this one hard. 🙁

    • Posted April 24, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you. Still getting choked up. Been listening to his music all weekend.

  2. Paige
    Posted April 25, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I had never cried over a celebrity or musician dying until Thursday. 🙁 I’ve had his music on full circulation since Thursday and still get choked up at the end of Purple Rain. This sucks!

  3. Posted April 25, 2016 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    I must be older than you; for me it was Bowie. It was my son who texted me that Bowie was gone and right there – I was standing in the damn basement doing laundry and I start yelling at my phone, “No no no no no no no oh please no! No!” and I couldn’t believe it. It was like…Wait…wait…hold up….how is the world still turning? I didn’t think the world could exist without him. It’s like he’d always been there and would always be there and it wasn’t anything I was expecting and I spent days listening to his music again. He was an absolute GENIUS and how in the WORLD did he come up with all that amazing stuff it was all SO DAMN GOOD.
    And now he’s gone. And it still boggles my mind.

    So anyway. Though it was a different musician…all those things you said about Prince…I totally get it. I can’t believe Prince is gone either.

    I mean to say. Bowie. Alan Rickman. Prince. Terry Wogan. Victoria Wood. Doris Roberts. Gary Shandling. Just….WHAT is going on this year?
    Keeley´s most recent blog post: Zombies, RunMy Profile

  4. Amy K.
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    I grew up in the Minneapolis area, and still live here, and we are taking it hard! I was lucky enough to see Prince live three times, at very different times in my life: in high school (first concert ever), right after I graduated from college, and then when I was barely pregnant with my first baby. Not only was he an amazing composer and musician with that other-worldly presence, but he was also one of us.

    • Posted April 26, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      I’m sure it’s hitting you locals particularly hard. Sorry it’s extra sucky for you.

      Glad (and envious) that you saw him three times. I only saw him live once … and I’m very grateful for that now!

  5. Posted October 15, 2016 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    I just came across your post and found it really echoed what I wrote myself. Including the link to the rock and roll hall of fame video. It’s still hard to believe he’s gone. I enjoyed reading your tribute. What a loss. Here’s my own post, if you’re so inclined: http://leisurepursuit.blogspot.com/2016/04/prince-rip.html?m=1

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