April 25, 2016
Goodnight, Sweet Prince
In 1981, I was part of the first generation of MTV kids who would rush home and watch new videos. One day in 1983, I saw a video that was in direct opposition to the rock music I was listening to. I remember watching this beautiful black man with long hair, eyeliner, and purple trench coat. My sister described the music as “new wave” because that was the term of the time. That video inducted a “new wave” into my life. One that was more open to things that were different than what I was used to. At the time, I had no way of knowing the impact this video and this man would have on my life, forever altering and forever shaping it in ways I can’t even fathom.
That man, as the title of this blog indicates was Prince, the enchanting unicorn who deliberately defied labels and boundaries. Prince unwittingly became the composer of the soundtrack of my life. He unwittingly became the object of my affection (when I was thirteen I swore I would marry him), and my light in the darkness of trauma.
Over the years, everyone in my circle knew of my admiration and voracious consumption of anything Prince. Cousins from overseas would send pictures of him to me in the mail. I would buy any magazine that had his picture. These pictures were amalgamated together and mounted on the wall that infamously became known as the “Prince Wall.” When I went to college, I gingerly took every picture off the wall and meticulously placed them on a slab of cardboard and took the “Prince Wall” with me. I refused to leave him behind. In my college dorm, I made sure the first face I saw when I woke was Prince’s, as two posters adorned the wall right in front of me, leaving no room for any others. It was all about Prince.
Prince is the only artist I have seen four times in my life, and every time was different and a life experience. I was fifteen when I first saw him for the “Glam Slam” tour. I was in the second level of the now defunct Spectrum when I yelled out, “I love you!” With mic in hand he responded, “I love you, too, hun.” That was the closest in physical proximity I ever got to him.
In my times of melancholy, his music has pierced threw the armor I created to make it through and allowed me to feel what I needed to feel. I lost a beloved aunt in 2010, and I already had tickets to his concert in Madison Square Garden. My mother forced me to go, and I’m glad I did. For over two hours, I forgot my pain. I have created memories with members of my family who have gone to his shows with me. One of my brothers went to see Prince with me twice. My best friend came with me to a show one year just because she wanted to experience this part of my life with me. He played “The Beautiful Ones.” I got so excited and squeezed her arm so tightly, that I heard a muted, “Ow.” It is still a wonderful memory. Well, maybe not for her.
His lyrics and virtuosity as a musician have inspired me in my life. Too many of his songs have been imprinted on my consciousness to list here. His spirituality and ownership of his own life inspires me to this day. After his passing, I realized that he always lived his life exactly as he was, no matter if others understood or appreciated it. Only recently, have I learned to live this way.
For the rest of my life, I will be grateful to this man for his presence in the world, even if I never got the opportunity to meet him. He did what he was meant to do and shared his profound genius. Now that he has returned to his True Home and the True Home of us all, I can only say, “Good night, sweet Prince.” May you greet me at the dawn.
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil…