I’ve been dreading this post for a few day, it breaks my heart to have to do it, but I want to pay homage to the man who share so much with the world. Last Thursday, April 21, the world lost an undeniable musical genius, Prince Roger Nelson, a.k.a Prince, The Purple One, 0(+>. Prince held a special place in my heart.
Growing up, I didn’t listen to much secular music. Having a mother who was a pastor who didn’t allow worldly music played in the house, I wasn’t exposed to much popular music. There was some popular music we heard watching Soul Train on Saturday morning or songs that we heard from friends at school, but for the most part, we were a gospel music household. That’s until I was 10 or 11 years old when me and my sisters received walkmans for Christmas. Oh. My. Goodness. You couldn’t tell us nothing, we could listen to what we wanted when we wanted.
My walkman was red, with a cassette player and flimsy, by today’s standards, headphones. I took that walkman everywhere I went, bathroom included. I remember trying to find Power 99 on the FM dial and listening to hot new songs. I remember being able to be a part of conversations in school about artist and songs and not just sitting there pretending I knew what everyone was talking about. That walkman exposed me to music, unlike anything I’d experienced before.
Fast forward some months later, my older cousin came to visit, our house was my family’s safe place. My cousins, aunts, and uncles would come by and sit around and shoot the breeze with my mom. My sisters and I would love it because it gave us a chance to step outside of our normal and see what it was like to be a teenager or adult. But anyway, my cousin was at our house for most of the day and much of the evening. After he left I was cleaning up getting ready to go to bed for the night, when I found Prince’s Love Symbol Album cassette tape in between the couch cushions. It must have fallen out of my cousin’s pocket. I finished cleaning as quickly as I could then ran to my bedroom to listen to the tape. Up until that point, I didn’t have a tape to play, so it was more about trying the cassette player out then it was listening to Prince. I popped the tape in and my goodness, Sexy MFer was playing. My bottom jaw hit the floor and I stood there in my bedroom mouth hanging open, eyes wide. Did he say what I think he said? Needless to say, this preacher’s daughter had never, ever heard, such language in a song. In the streets, yes, but in a song. I was floored. I felt like I discovered a world-changing secret, it was world changing for me. I listened to that song over and over for days before I allowed myself to listen to the entire album. I guarded that tape with my life. I definitely couldn’t let my sisters get ahold of it, that would have been my behind. I prayed that my cousin wouldn’t inquire about his lost tape, I wouldn’t be able to let it go, I would lie if I had to, but he wasn’t getting it back.
Finding that tape changed everything I knew about music. The funk that merged with R&B, the horns, the bass, the drums, the electric guitar, Prince’s vocals all exposed me to a different kind of creativity. Creativity that didn’t conform to what was popular but creativity that was right for the artist. I was hooked on Prince the moment I found that tape.
Then, when I was getting ready to graduate from the 8th grade, my junior high school had a dance for the 8th graders, sort of like a mini-prom. The girls got the hair done and wore pretty dresses. The boys wore tuxes. I wasn’t allowed to date, but my aunt arranged for me to have a date with the son of one of her coworkers. He picked me up, gave me my corsage, my mom and aunt took pictures, you know the typical “going to a dance things” parents do. As we were leaving, my mom blasted Prince’s The Most Beautiful Girl in the World. I don’t remember how she came to know the song, but Prince blared from the speakers. Prince made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world that night.
What is so funny and scary is the day the world learned about Prince’s death I was sitting at the computer thinking about my 8th-grade dance and hearing the song as I left. What made me think about this was the fact that my daughter will be going to her 8th-grade dance in June and I want to play the song for her as she leaves. Something said tweet it to Prince, but I chickened out. A few hours later my husband called and told me he had died.
I feel like a small piece of my life died with him, something that only he and I shared. I know it sounds silly, but Prince wasn’t suppose to die, not at 57, maybe at 157, then his life may have felt complete. But God knows what he is doing, we don’t have to understand it, we just have to accept it.
Prince, my dear sweet man, thank you for sharing your gift with the world, for doing it your way and changing what it means to me to be a creative soul. Rest peacefully in the arms of the Creator, I’ll meet you when I get there.
I’ll love to hear your Prince stories, share in the comments below.
May God be with you until we meet again.