Dearly Beloved. We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life
This is a copy of something I wrote on Facebook today.
Yesterday brought the shocking death of my favorite musical artist of all time. His Royal Badness, the man, the myth the legend Prince. This shock me to my core, affecting me more so than any death has that wasn’t someone I knew in person or was related to. I admit it. I balled my eyes out. I’m not ashamed, I’m tearing up right now as I write this. So lets go back to the beginning and trace my life through Prince.
Anyone who knows me or even just looks at my Facebook knows I am obsessed with music and live shows. The majority of my fun time is concerts. I don’t follow sports anymore. I don’t have kids, I don’t have hobbies. Music is my world.
It all started around 1983. I was 13 and this is when I started actually listening to the radio consciously and not just as something in the background. We also finally got MTV which was a game changer. I had a few albums, but didn’t really follow anybody in particular. I had The Game by Queen and some Ktel tapes, but that was about it. I started taping songs off the radio. Micheal Jackson was still in the middle of the Thriller frenzy and I bought right into it. My Mom bought me this huge boombox and of course I had to have that Thriller tape to go with it.
My first actual memory of Prince was when I went to a boy scout jamboree and we were all gathered at this other troops cabin in the middle of the night watching these guys break dance to D.M.S.R. What the Fuck is this? I never heard this on the radio. It was only a year later when I heard it again that I was like “Oh Yeah”
Summer 1984. This changed the course of my whole life. Prince absolutely owned the world. When Doves Cry comes out. I really liked it. MTV increased playing the older videos of 1999 and Little Red Corvette. I like them too, but its the second release from the album Let’s Go Crazy that turns me into an absolute freak. It starts out like a church sermon and ends with a blistering guitar solo that you don’t hear on Top 40 radio. I gotta buy this album. Actually, the first time I ever hear the whole album I’m at a friend of mine’s house after school. The rest of the guys are playing football or some other Bullshit while I just sit by the boombox and listen to it over and over again till they take me back home.
I go to the mall and buy the tape. I wear that fucker out. What do you mean he has five other albums? I get 1999 next. Holy shit!!! This is almost as good as Purple Rain. I play it so much I break the tape and my Grandmother takes it back and gets me a new one. This happens several times until she just gets me the vinyl. I get the Time’s Ice Cream Castles and What Time is it? I don’t know what a big part Prince plays in these albums. I just know I love this shit and they hang out with Prince so they gotta be Cool, Of course they are, they are the coolest Mother Fuckers on the planet, but that’s for another day. I start buying the albums in reverse order. They are all spectacular.
Now remember I’m 14. This dude is singing about sex and when you’re that age, that’s all you think about 24/7. Oh yeah he’s much deeper than that, but that’s the first thing you pick up, it takes years, even decades for some of that shit to click. For my birthday that year I got the 12 inch single to Let’s Go Crazy. Remember that song, the song that started this whole obsession. Wait its different than the version they play on the radio or on the album. I haven’t seen the movie at this point because I’m only 14 and its R. What’s this on the B side? Erotic City. What album is this one on? This song rules. That’s when I discovered he put new songs on the B sides to the singles. Hell alot of the time they are better than the ones that are the A side. Now I gotta buy all these too. I distinctly remember buying the vinyl to Dirty Mind and having to sneak it into the house. Later I had the back to back tape with it and Controversy.
Now remember this is 1984 and Prince is at his peak. Everybody loves Prince, but I take it to the extreme. Now I gotta have everything by anybody that has had anything to do with him. I get the other Time album, Vanity 6 and Apollonia 6. Oh My God Vanity’s like the most gorgeous woman I’ve ever seen. I got posters of her on my wall which even in 84 that doesn’t go over real well for a white boy in the country, but I don’t care. I’m trying to see if I got seven inches or more.
1985 roles around and I finally get to see Purple Rain. Jason and I go to my aunt’s house and watch it on her VCR. We don’t have VCR’s at this point. She cooks us hamburger helper and we just sit there spellbound. Not long after that, we actually rented a VCR one weekend and watched that shit over and over again. Later we finally got VCR’s. Purple Rain was on cable by then, but we didn’t have Cinemax. Our friend Travis taped it for us and every weekend we would just watch it over and over again. I’ve seen this movie well over a hundred times and can quote the whole movie. Around the World in a Day comes out. Prince goes hippie. Alot of people jump off the prince bandwagon, but I’m not getting off. I buy it the day it comes out, a tradition that carries on for twenty years or so until record stores are next to extinct.
Jesse Johnson has a record. So does Morris Day. I gotta buy it. Prince has a record label. Sheila E, The Family, Mazarati. I must own it. My grandmother takes us to the mall every weekend where we wear our parachute pants and hit chick fill a. We are constantly at the record store looking for new Prince and related. Watch MTV, Friday Night Videos and Night Flight hoping to tape Prince and related videos. I buy any magazine with him or related on the cover. I have pictures all over my wall. I like other artist, but at this point they are all on a lower level. I go to my first concert. Its Morris Day and like five other acts at the Pensacola Civic Center. I go with my friend Travis and his girlfriend since I can’t drive. They try to give me some activator samples. The show is awesome. I really like this concert stuff. Jesse Johnson comes to Mobile, but I can’t find anybody to drive.
1986 I finally get a car. we drive around with a boom box between the seats because I can’t afford the $100 to get a tape deck. I have a $10 a week allowance plus the lunch money I save every week by only buying a chocolate shake and of course that all goes to gas and tapes. I go with Travis on his birthday to see Under the Cherry Moon. We are the only white people in the theater. Everybody sits in silence until the play Kiss and then the place erupts. Now that I can drive, Jason and I hit both malls and all the record stores every weekend. Last year of high school is rolling around, Prince was my gateway into Jimi Hendrix. Wait a minute. This guy is insane. It doesn’t diminish my love for Prince, but it does show me there are other artist out there on that level. I’m growing my hair out. Walking around with black t shirts on and holey jeans. Most people think I’m a headbanger or a hippie and I pretend to be both. We are hanging out at the used record store looking for weird Hendrix albums and the dude in there puts on the Dirty Mind album and we sing every word. Gottcha!
I graduate high school and start college. Prince just keeps going with Sign O’ the Times. If I was your Girlfriend. WTF is this. Years later, much like Sometimes it Snows in April it clicked. Jason and I are visiting his girlfriend in the hospital and we go see the movie after we leave. There is only one other person in there, but this shit rules. I tell this chick I played the drums on 777-9311. She believes me. Lovesexy comes out. It didn’t save my life. What just happened? I don’t love it. Its OK, but its not anywhere near as good as everything else he’s done. Anna Stesia Rules though. Prince isn’t selling as much as he use to. The related artist are fading. They don’t play him as much on the radio. I’m in my classic rock phase. I love Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin and their expanded universe. I hear rumblings about something called the Black Album.
Prince rebounds with the Batman album. Still not as good as the earlier stuff, but better that Lovesexy. He does the whole Fucking album!!! The movie kicks ass too. Graffiti Bridge is next. The album is good and they are making another movie with the Time!!! No fucking way. We see it when it comes out. No where near as good as Purple Rain, but its still Prince and the Time!!! Diamonds and Pearls is next. Its Ok, I love Gett Off and the remixes. I get a copy of the infamous Black Album, Its the first of many bootlegs. Here comes grunge and the O[+> album. Its way better than Diamonds and Pearls, but doesn’t sell as much. I discover record shows and mail order bootlegs. I go to concerts, but unfortunately no Prince.
I move out of my Mom’s house for the first time. Just like Prince was my gateway to Hendrix, he now leads us to the P Funk universe and all its off shoots. Alot of my friends work in record stores so I got the hook up. I start working at the post office. I start dating a girl who is the district manager for a record chain. Now I really got the hookup. She can order stuff you can’t get anywhere else. We go to the first of my 65 Time concerts. I discover the internet and AMP. Tape trading and bootlegs everywhere. I can’t believe all of this great Prince stuff and there are people who share my obsession and even some that put me to shame.
Then it finally happens. I go see Prince in concert in Atlanta on his JOTY tour. Its good, but not as good as I thought it would be. I keep going though and each one seems to get better. I raid Mayte’s goody box at one of them. At the CajunDome, my girlfriend is wearing this purple shinny dress. Prince shes her and says she is wearing his color and she’s gonna dance with him later. Yeah right. Well she did. That dress was a good luck charm as she did the same thing with the Time. An absolutely epic show in Mobile, AL on Halloween brought out everybody I went to high School with to the show. Ben and Esteban go with me to after show at the redneck bar called Mustang Sally’s. Prince doesn’t play, but he waves from the VIP area upstairs. I did meet his guitar player and his bass player and they signed my ticket. The chick was flirting with me and I should have hit that shit.
JOTY is winding down and I’m tired of going. Of course when my girlfriend pulls up front row dead center at the Fox in Atlanta I gotta go. Half way through Larry Gram Cracker’s opening set none other than Mr Morris Fucking Day comes over, bends down and asks me if he’s got the right seat. I’m like trying to be cool. I’ve seen the Time a bunch at this point. I’ve been on stage with them to do The Bird. I even talk to some of the other guys on the internet. I might have met Morris before, but he doesn’t know me. I’m over here stammering to my girlfriend and she’s like it just looks like him. I know who the Fuck Morris Day is!!! I get his autograph between Larry and Prince’s set. Then Webster comes down to see him. The only person in the building shorter than Prince. Then everybody starts bothering Morris and I feel bad. Prince puts on a fantastic show. I have the boot to prove it. I’m so close I see his make up flaking.
Remember the NPG music club. 7 hours to download it on AOL. I wish I still had that shit, but I lost it when my computer died. I almost forgot Gold. Probably his last great album. I got Exodus the same day as Emancipation and I prefer it. That’s his P Funk album. Loads of boots, concerts, people to talk to about Prince. Life is good even if his released stuff isn’t as good as it use to be. New Power Soul is his low point and who could forget the Crystal Ball fiasco. “Naysayers will eat their words on toast”, AMP at its peak. The “E” people.
1999 which felt so long ago finally gets here. The new master is horrible. He gets his last top 40 hit with a re release of the original. Even though most of his new stuff is only OK, I still find atleast one song an album I really Love. The Rainbow Children. Dude has lost his shit. I do see the One Night Alone show in New Orleans. Second row. I get a pick. Its awesome. The years keep going by. 2004 and Musicology. I go to a bunch of shows. They are incredible. I get awesome seats. I see The Time open for him. An absolutely epic show at the Essence Fest with the Time, plus Sheila E and Chaka Khan. 3121 is another good album. Then I start to fade. Twenty plus years as an absolute obsessive freak. I still buy all the albums when they are released, but its more of an exercise at this point. I’m into so many other artist at this point and his material isn’t as good as it use to be. I stop trading bootlegs. I don’t have to have everything he breaths on anymore. AMP dies.
Its later resurrected on Facebook and I connect with many of my old friends. Its sporadic, but its good to talk about the old days. That’s what he is at this point to me, the old days. 2014 roles around. 30 years since Purple Rain came out and my limp interest in Prince is resurrected somewhat. He puts out a song called AnotherLove. Its not even his song, but it connects with me like nothing since the 80’s. He’s playing the Essence Fest and we go. Its a fantastic show, not as good as 2004, but nothing is.
Hitandrun volume one comes out last year and its awful. I feel that interest fading again. Part two comes out later in the year and its way better. I’m really digging it, he’s doing shows again. Just him and a piano. I’m getting excited again. He’s in Atlanta two weeks ago. It sells out in 10 minutes. I thought about going since it was on my day off, but its very difficult for me to take such long trips. Its gets rescheduled for a week later. Its the last show he ever does and I’ll regret not going the rest of my life.
When he has his plane take him to a hospital mid flight, I have a bad feeling. You never hear about Prince being sick. It appears he gets better, but then I wake up Thursday morning with three text from Jason saying he’s dead. I turn on my computer hoping this is a bad dream, I gotta wake us, this is not happening. I’m gonna die before Prince. I spend the whole day on the internet and Facebook not believing this is really happening. Tears are shed. I’m not an emotional guy. People who know me will tell you I’m apathetic. I cry like a little kid. I’m overwhelmed with emotion and don’t know how to react to it. I go out and cut the grass to get away from the spectacle for a little while(of course all I play is Prince on my iPod) I go out to eat with my Mom and I’m sick to my stomach. We go to a show and I block it out for awhile. As soon as I get home, there it is again. Its not a dream. I stay up all night trolling the internet. I find a bootleg DVD I had never watched of a Purple Rain tour show. I had to turn it off before the encore. I cried again. I go to bed after 5 a.m. If I had to work today, I would have called in sick. I still might tomorrow.
I got up today hoping it was a horrible nightmare. It actually is. He’s gone. I’m not waking up from this. As I spent the whole afternoon writing this, reliving all these memories I also feel very lucky. I got to witness this great man at his peak and beyond. Just like people talk about Hendrix or Zeppelin. What would have happened if I was a few years older when Prince took over the world? Would I have felt the same way or would he just be a footnote to me? I just played all his albums from For You to Parade in order and it only seems fitting that I’m gonna cry one more time while hearing the last song.
I often dream of heaven and I know that Tracy's there I know that he has found another friend Maybe he's found the answer to all the April snow Maybe one day I'll see my Tracy again
Sometimes it snows in April Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad Sometimes I wish that life was never ending, But all good things, they say, never last All good things that say, never last And love, it isn't love until it's past
RIP Prince. You totally changed my life for the better and you will never be forgotten
We don't need no microwave
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