I don’t even know exactly what to say to this. Prince was such a huge part of my coming of age. Purple Rain was one of the albums that marks the beginning of my adolescence. When Doves Cry was my song with my first “serious” boyfriend. I remember my girls and I singing “Kiss” while we worked out in the gym. I swear I saw the Purple Rain movie at least a dozen times when it was in the theater, and every time it’s on TV, I watch it, even with some of the “really good parts” scrubbed out.
I remember my junior prom, when I was a weeny bit buzzed, and while freaking out on the dance floor to “1999”, fell and bonked my noggin. My dad and I loved to sing “Little Red Corvette” in our boring station wagon, and my dad would just randomly break out into “Raspberry Beret” (wrong lyrics and all) because he liked it.
Prince blew my mind later on, when he took himself away from the greedy music industry by changing his “owned” name to a unique, trademarked symbol that people couldn’t speak or type.
He was then mostly known as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” Some people made fun of the idea — I’ll confess, including me at the time–but later, I completely came to understand what taking this kind of radical step meant: Prince was a free man, a free soul, neither himself nor his music owned by anyone but himself and his people.
He was such an entertainer. Seeing him perform at the Super Bowl just made me cry. He was colorful and sparkly and weird, elegant and strange, but his music was always beautiful, surprising, outside the mainstream.
This is one of those things that is starting to happen now, at my age. Beloved musicians, idols, artists from my youth are starting to die. Prince was one of the first I discovered when I began to explore the road to adulthood, so now it almost seems fitting that his death is one of the first ones to make me cry at mid-life. He wasn’t much older than me, actually. A young man to die. His creativity and music will be greatly missed.