The playlists of my youth are being decimated… The artists I grew up with are being taken way too early… The history of music and Rock n’ Roll is becoming a posthumous endeavor… And time after time, a sad reminder to never put off tomorrow what you can do today… and to always figure out a way to not miss a concert or show because you think there will be another chance… another year… another tour…
Sometimes… Sometimes there won’t be…
If a star can be taken out of the sky… If a true musical genius and icon can be pulled from the stage… then we all better be doing our best every day… to create life and art… music and joy.
I hate writing these posts… Hate it.
And I’ll say it once again… 2016 can suck it. The things my friends have had to endure so far… and the number of artists we have lost is devastating, but it is the fact that so many of them defined my youth… my proms and dances… my parties… my puberty… my growing up… This is what hurts the most.
It is hard to not feel so very mortal… so under accomplished and under achieved… and while I know that I do not and will not ever possess any of the musical genius that was Prince, it is a reminder to live life, to love and to create, for we simply do not know how long or short our time on this planet may be.
When I was young and naive, I was most impressed by Prince’s ability to get the absolute, most beautiful women as girlfriends… And yes, I was one of those who questioned whether or not it was him or his musical abilities and genius.
As I learned more about music and grew up and older and more mature, I was, of course, able to see the genius behind the music… the brilliance… the wide, wide range of music… from Funk, Soul and R&B, to Rock and pure Pop… the skills as a performer and guitarist.
Prince would find his way onto every genre or themed party tape or mix tape I would make.
If I wanted to dance and sing… If I wanted to think and contemplate… If I wanted to seduce and have something sexy playing in the background… or if I just wanted some of the greatest Pop songs ever written, Prince would get pulled up… Well… pulled off my shelves of albums and CDs… and now pulled up from my iTunes.
That range was evident on the first album of his I heard and embraced, 1999. And yes, this was FIVE albums in… His first record, For You, coming out in 1979.
Did we dance? Hell yeah… But his lyrics were equally profound…
“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt U
I only want U 2 have some fun
I was dreamin’ when I wrote this
Forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this mornin’
Coulda sworn it was judgment day
The sky was all purple,
There were people runnin’ everywhere
Tryin’ 2 run from the destruction,
U know I didn’t even care
‘Cuz they say two thousand zero zero party over,
Oops out of time
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999.”
And who did NOT want a “Little Red Corvette.”
Man, I miss the ’80s!
In 1984 came Purple Rain… the album and the film having a major impact on me… and of course on Prince’s meteoric rise. That is one of those rare albums I listen to from start to finish… song for song… never skipping or wanting or needing to.
And then in 1985 came a pure Pop blast of joy… I love Around The World In A Day
… unapologetically… and “Raspberry Beret”
is one of my favorite songs… ever…
I will sing it at the top of my lungs with reckless abandon and the car windows down… or yes… even blasting it from my frat room… I mean… um… in between Van Halen and Judas Priest and Rush of course…
In somewhat typical Prince fashion… it is nearly impossible to find a copy of this video online… he would go after anyone posting it… So just pull it up in your mind… I know for me, I can see it clearly on my TV… as I sat for hours and hours and hours watching MTV.
When MTV started I was, for lack of a better word, addicted… enthralled… captivated… Okay, I just came up with some better words…
MTV was my everything… It was my world of music and rock and videos. It gave images to sounds… pictures to tunes… It was a series of three-minute movies… and what a rotation and movie marathon and festival it was!
In 1987 came another masterpiece in Sign ‘O’ The Times… and another CD purchase… I was a fan.
Album after album… performance after performance…
And yet… another artist I never saw live… And again, I just don’t know why.
I never met Prince, but I will always remember the story my friend and writing partner Josh tells… He was outside of Paisley Park Studios… and accidentally or perhaps not… was leaning against Prince’s car. Prince walked out… saw him there… Josh got excited for the conversation that would ensue… and in that high-pitched and soft, Prince-speaking voice he said only this: “Hey, get away from my car.”
Bowie… Glenn Frey… Prince… These are the artists who defined my youth… who played in the background and foreground of some my life’s major moments… These are the musicians who helped create the soundtrack of my life.
57 years old, folks. That is simply too young. And yes, his music will live on… that is the power of an album… a song… a video… of a captured image. But 57 years old… and still so much to say and write and sing…
Life is short, make it sweet.
Listen to music, make music, play music, embrace music.
Go to shows, be present, put your phone down… and be a part of the experience.
And if you have a chance to go to a concert or show, go!
Don’t delay your dreams and don’t think it is ever too late to pursue them… There is no time limit on our dreams… but there is a time limit on life… and we are not the one running the meter.
Trend setter, icon, musical genius, and music itself… RIP, Sweet Prince… Your elevator is not bringing you down, but the skies and our eyes are filled with Purple Rain.