So you’ve joined the other bright stars that have left this world in recent months. I am sorry. I am sorry I never appreciated you for what you were: a genius.
I was so busy dancing to your hit songs that I didn’t bother to listen to your other work. I missed out on a lot of mind-blowingly brilliant music that could have rocked my world. I was too wrapped up in what myself and all the boys were doing – I was too distracted to notice what YOU were doing.
You were creating, inspiring, writing.
You were exuding life, love, sensuality, spirituality.
You were embodying your art. Not taking any sh** from record companies. Writing “slave” on your face.
You referred to yourself as a symbol rather than a name. (This I did not miss. I just didn’t get it. I’m still not sure that I “get” it, but boy, I admire you for doing it.)
What if, instead of drinking and dancing and singing the chorus of “Purple Rain” at the top of my lungs, I had bothered to learn all the words? The first verse alone, stripped of the music, is a simple and beautiful sentiment that my teenage self would have loved:
I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you
Laughing in the purple rain
And I never knew until this past weekend that you wrote this beautiful song:
Some people are saying that you were predicting your own death with this song. I disagree. I think you just wrote what was in your heart at the time.
With your beautiful ability to connect simultaneously with the spiritual and the sensual, with reality and fantasy, you deeply felt the loss of this fictional character that you had brought into being. I get it.
And there was this one.
Straightforward, poetic, prophetic. It would have done me a lot of good to listen to this when you wrote it back in 1987.
You are a beautiful spirit, a brilliant bright light, a true original. If I had dug a little deeper 20 years ago, I could have benefitted from your genius back then. Who knows what kind of influence it would have had on me as a young woman, as a consumer of music, as a watcher-of-the-world, as an eventual songwriter?
Here’s something else I never appreciated until recently: you could sing! You could sing anything and make it at once your own and everyone’s, with astonishing intimacy.
Case in point:
Thank you, Prince. For your genius, your inspiration, your beautiful spirit. I am thankful that I got a touch of it, even if it took me some time to catch on.
Fly with the doves, sing with the angels.
Videos: “Sometimes it Snows In April”, “Sign of the Times”& Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You”