No one who has listened to and loved rock music, as have I, from the last 30 years can ignore what happened on April 21, 2016.
Following is my brief tribute to Prince Rogers Nelson.
Prince—the Prince of hearts, of melody, of musicianship, of groove and purple gumption—is dead.
As I write this, the wind gets down, dancing with the trees’ leaves—maybe a sign from the Afterworld?—but Nature, red in tooth and claw, has a different idea.
It was about 1985, and I was at a friend’s house. We were rooting around in her older brother’s room, as young kids are wont to do. It may not be fact, as I’m too far removed from that headspace, but I believe I discovered the album “Purple Rain” there in her brother’s room and gave it my first listen. This was simultaneous—again, maybe not factual, but certainly appropriate—with my discovery at her house of several nests of explicit magazines and paperback books. [No naming names, because there’s no umbrage meant here.]
For me, from the very beginning, Prince and his music were subversives of the highest order: provocative, risqué, and not just boundary-pushing but boundary-crashing and re-building. To me, Prince didn’t need drugs. He was a drug. He was sexuality personified, funkified.
Before I had words to express it as such, his music appealed to me as a heady aphrodisiac of funk, pop, smoldering soul, synth, hard rock and groove-infused dance music with guitar-god licks and stage persona(e) worthy of Hendrix.
The domestic issues Prince the boy, teenager, and man probably experienced found roost in my battered heart, too; exceptionally so in “When Doves Cry,” in the refrain “Why do we scream at each other/This is what it sounds like when doves cry.”
So, today, the day after, you have to believe that . . . if there is an Afterworld, it’s getting really funky about now. And I, for one, intend to go crazy with that electric word: life.
Long live Prince. Musician, icon, funky fellow Homo sapien. Godspeed.