Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Power of Prince

Recently I listened to an All Songs Considered podcast about Bob Boilen's book Your Song Changed My Life. Afterwards, I started thinking about the music that has been significant in my life - and there's been a lot. If I had to write a chapter for that book, what would it be about? After much deliberation I finally settled on Prince's album 1999. I distinctly remember using a $10 gift certificate I'd gotten for my 12th birthday to buy the cassette at Dillon Music in Kalamazoo, MI. I remember feeling nervous as I reached for the cassette on one of those rotating cassette towers; it felt a little naughty, and I knew I was probably too young to buy it. But I did it anyway, feeling almost as if I'd won a dare. Honestly, the first thing that drew me to Prince was the line, "Mommy, why does everybody have a bomb?" Ever the activist, I was drawn to his matter-of-fact questioning of the arms race, even if it did inexplicably come at the end of a pretty funky song that to me was about partying despite - or perhaps because of - the impending apocalypse. Soon my friends and I were dissecting the lyrics as we sang along at the back of the bus, playing the cassette on one of those portable Panasonic tape recorders. One of my more precocious friends explained all the sex stuff the rest of us didn't understand. I loved that Prince was profound and dirty, sacred and profane, political and passionate. His was the first music I remember having an in depth conversation about, as I tried to make an argument to my friend in support of his complexity. He was himself, unapologetically and uncompromisingly so, a model I desperately needed as a painfully shy preteen. And he could DANCE! And he sang about dancing! Two years later, Purple Rain was the soundtrack of my first relationship, and first breakup. My purple vinyl Purple Rain 45 is still one of my prized possessions. He definitely helped me get through this thing called life. All of this has been rolling around in my head for the past week, so when my colleague told me today that Prince was dead, it just didn't seem real. Party in Purple, dear one.


Related Posts with Thumbnails