Sometime back around 1981 — at least that date sounds familiar. Anyway, I fell in love. Not with a woman though I’m sure a girl did occupy my thoughts, because quite frankly, I still go weak in the knees at the sight of blue plaid skirts and white button up shirts. It’s a Catholic thing, so don’t try to understand it. Back to what I was saying. I fell in love.
Fell in love with a voice. Yes, it’s possible, so don’t even try to fight with me over this. Riding home from school, our bus had a radio that pumped out the local station Rock 102. The song that blared sent all the teenagers into fits of Karaoke, way before we knew what that was. The song was Little Red Corvette and I was hooked. That day started a forty year love affair that will probably follow me to my grave.
I can’t really say why the song captured me the way it did. Maybe it was the sexual rebellion the song sparked within me. It could have been the music itself speaking to me on a primal level, or the melodic lyrics that said so many things my brain hadn’t yet fully understood. Whatever the case, Prince Rodgers Nelson became my musical Jedi Master that day. By the time Purple Rain came out at the movies, I’d picked up his back stock of albums and had already conceived several plans to sneak into this R rated slice of heaven. I am pretty certain back then the only reason I clung to my Prince love was his glorification of sex and the dropping of the F Bomb. Teenagers. Go figure?
Then again to be perfectly honest, I had already developed a deep and abiding love for Rhythm and Blues from my parents. Dad loved old school rock in the form of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Big Joe Turner, not to mention Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson. Mom was all 70s funk. Earth Wind and Fire, Ohio Players and the Commodores. Man, I can’t even begin to name all the musical influences I had growing up. It’s no small wonder that when I began to mature in my musical tastes I’d develop strong and definite opinions of my choices.
Looking back I can honestly say Prince was more of a rebellious streak for me. Prince taught me many things on my road to being who I am. Creatively he taught me to take chances. He showed me the value of never accepting good enough and to always push whatever envelope I found myself fitting into. At the time I probably didn’t see him as a mentor. I just saw him as the soundtrack to my life. Purple Rain defined my 80s. Diamond and Pearls my 90s. Musicology my 2000s. I’m still trying to nail down which album is summing up my 20tweens but I’m sure it’ll come to me sooner or later. The point is, Prince is the godfather of my painting and writing for so many reasons he should get a co-writing credit on my books.
But, I don’t think I can stop with just letting him take the blame for my imagination running wild. It would so belittle the impact he had on my growth as a human being. I always find it strange that people assume something about a person based on their color and geographic location. It never occurred to me to hate someone based on either of those things. Being a douchebag gets you on the list automatically. Prince helped cement my view on accepting others based solely on who they are. I have met many people over the years and adopted them fully into my heart. When I see them, I don’t see color. I don’t see religion or lack of the topic. I don’t even see political affiliation or sexual orientation. I see a person who completes my life in some mysterious way that I can’t explain nor see a need to even try. They are, and the fact that they are makes me happy. Not sure that sole credit for the belief rests with Prince, but I’m giving him partial credit. The rest I’m giving to Jesus for giving me a heart open to loving without condition.
This past week and a half has given me a lot to think about. That is often the way when you lose someone close to you. I know I have never met Prince except in my dreams, but he has been a real part of my life nonetheless. Losing him so suddenly like this has left an empty spot I struggle to fill. Not with another person, but with the memories of his music and the times in my life he was with me through the songs he wrote. I think along the way we are given people who influence us whether they know the impact they have on us or not. These people help shape the people we ultimately become. If you think about it that way, maybe the old adage is true. Live the values you speak, because your life is a roadmap for others to follow. I for one don’t want to be the one paving the road to hell for someone else. I have enough trouble keeping myself off that road without worrying about anyone else’s path.
So, as I say goodbye to Prince, I want to express rather inadequately the thanks I wish I could have given him personally in life. Since sadly that option is no longer open to me, I will live my life as he had. A living example of using the talents God gave me to their fullest and giving the world an example worthy of the man who showed me that Purple Rain is not just a song, it’s an ideal to live by.
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
Jmo wishing you all
Happy Reading and a life full of that laughter.