The Day The Music Died: A Rememberance

Originally published on Count3rCu1ture the day Prince died. Reprinted here to mark the anniversary.

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You’ll have to bear with me. This may be a bit rambling but not like that shouldn’t be expected.

Prince_at_CoachellaI’m watching CBS News Live coverage (on Roku) of the passing of Prince. They just finished playing an older interview/profile from 2004. The reporter was jamming on stage. During his Musicology tour. Which was the one and only time I got to see him in person.

April 27, 2004. About 12 years ago. Stephanie (one of my best friends and another diehard Prince fan) made the drive for three-plus hours of that man running through most of hits. Impossible to do them all, because there were so damn many. But my God, what a show. The “Purple Rain” solo that night brought me to tears. Because I was so happy I was there.

To see the man who made fandom of music happen. I was listening to the radio at 8-9 years old. Thought there was some cool stuff. But, to quote John Wilkes Booth from the Broadway show Assassins, the thing that summed it all up and blew it all wide open was “Let’s Go Crazy.” From there, I heard a cassette of Purple Rain, front to back. And didn’t look back.

The genius was already there. The fearlessness of what he would be willing to do – redefine an art form by curbstomping preconceptions and boundaries – was evident. He was a force of nature, recording and playing like it would all end tomorrow. It didn’t for a long time. But it finally has.

The tears hearing “Purple Rain” solo in Jacksonville were from experiencing the culmination of my love of music in one spot, in one moment. All of the emotions he had brought in me throughout so many years and so many albums coming out at once.

Prince_by_jimieye-crop

Having my jaw drop hearing the “Purple Rain” record. Grooving along to “Raspberry Beret” and feeling the pure joy of “Paisley Park.” The whimsical sexiness of “Kiss.” The spirituality, razor-sharp funk, and maturity of “Sign O’ The Times” – then the ultimate statement of love-as-spirituality of Lovesexy (a philosophy I carry into my current marriage with the love of my life). Worlds colliding when Prince took on the soundtrack for Batman. Making another statement and showing he just didn’t give a damn about anything other than enlightenment with a daring sequel, Graffiti Bridge. Pumping out Diamonds and Pearls to show he could still run with the radio crowd in his sleep. “The Opera” – his symbol-titled album – that not only dripped with sex and an undercurrent of menace, but also produced his “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the form of “3 Chains O’ Gold.” “Papa,” a strong statement about recovering from an abusive childhood. The celebration of his marriage and realizing his dream of love during his (and my) first marriage with Emancipation (if both of us had only known better). Hearing history and alternate realities on Crystal Ball. Hearing him finally come together with another icon – Chuck D – on “Undisputed.” Getting back to basics on Musicology and then making the mainstream realize he wasn’t going anywhere with 3121. Letting us all hear what a guitar really sounds like when it Gently Weeps at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Leaving no doubt to his genius or power at the Super Bowl.

So many feelings he’s brought about for decades, but the prevailing one being of hope. Of redemption. That love is alive with the right outlook. That rock and roll will always be alive and it came from Minneapolis.

I’ll never be able to thank Prince enough. For my love of music that he helped birth. For friendships that will last forever because of his music. For the love of my life that he helps me feel stronger about each day and reminding me that “She Gave Her Angels.”

Your music will live on, at least with me. Because so much of it has defined me and made me who I am.

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