The Kid has left the stage for the last time.
Chills sweep through your body. The air is thick with anticipation. There is a sense of uncontainable excitement, but also reverence. Women and screaming and passing out…and some of the men are, too. Hands are in the air, hearts are ablaze, and a shared love and adoration connects everyone in the room. The crowd hangs on every word of the man on stage.
It’s not a church revival. It’s a Prince concert. Although, it’s nothing short of a religious experience.
Prince Rogers Nelson, Christopher Robin, The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, (insert sign here), whatever era in which you discovered The Purple One designates what you know him as.
I met him as Prince, and got to know him as “The Kid.”
It’s not often that we find a musician who masters everything he does. While his acting was considered questionable by critics in Purple Rain, there was no question to fans – and haters (of which there are few) – that it’s one of the most iconic rock musicals of all time. The believability of the film is what really captures the audience. We can totally see Prince doing all of those things, and, in our minds, he really did all of those things.
It’s tempting, in memoriam, to focus on a celebrity’s personal life – the family man, the lovable hometown hero, the one who “made it.” But that’s what Wikipedia is for. Anybody can copy and paste a list of Grammys, a filmography, a discography – it doesn’t mean he made you FEEL anything. To his fans, myself included, Prince is the “oh finally, some real music!” at every party. He’s the icon I don’t wanna think has a normal life. As Bruno Mars said, “You wanna think Prince is somewhere on a cloud riding a unicorn, not buying shirts at The Gap.”
Fans fell in love with his mystery and he reveled in it. He – along with his predecessors to the Great Rock Concert in the Sky, David Bowie and Michael Jackson – taught music lovers how to let legends be legendary. He’s one of the artists who you want to do something weird. Prince’s eccentricity is what gained him the notoriety he earned, and also the haters. It was the rumors surrounding his sexuality, then (ironically) the tons of uncommonly hot and talented women, his possible ties with the occult (he was just a Jehovah’s Witness, y’all…), “divo” moments, and come on…ass-less chaps. Through every odd spectacle we saw, the most fantastical part of Prince’s persona was his nonchalance about it all, even when reminding his loyal fans that black lives still mattered (let’s not forget that moment). We ate it up.
I still remember the first time I heard Prince speak. I was honestly so confused. The falsetto shriek from “Kiss” had disappeared, and this deep, commanding voice replaced it. As young as I was, I understood why women were so in love with him. Anyone who could approach the stage as nonchalantly as if just to say “Hey, guys…”
…then wail on the guitar, making it do things we only heard rock ‘n’ roll legends like Chuck Berry do in days before…
…automatically captured the heart of everyone within listening range. Ever-changing with the times, “When Doves Cry” sounds nothing like “Little Red Corvette” sounds nothing like “How Come U Don’t Call Me” sounds nothing like “1999” sounds nothing like “Hot Thing” sounds nothing like “Musicology.” And those are just some of the hits.
A personal favorite, “Black Sweat,” gives the dance vibe I want from Prince, along with the sharp hi-hats, the background that makes me think I’m being fed some kind of subliminal message, and the lyrics that are…naughty? Wait, no…maybe? What is Prince talking about? Who cares? *jams*
It might be the only time I was OK with him putting down his guitar.
The cool thing about TAFKAP is that every fan who reads this article will understand what I’m talking about, and have more to add. If you don’t, I feel so sorry for you, but it’s never too late to do some research.
As I texted my dad (the man who introduced me to Prince) the sad news of the day, I told him I felt like music died today. He wrote back “The legendary music never dies. There is a ram in the bush, always!”
Well, musicians, consider yourselves commissioned. You have some big shoes to fill.
Rest in Paradise, Alexander Nevermind.