And so it goes:
“Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you, there’s something else
A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day, or night.
So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills,
You know the one – Dr Everything’ll be alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby
‘Cuz in this life
Things are much harder than in the afterworld
In this life
You’re on your own
And if the elevator tries to break you down – GO CRAZY!
(Punch a higher floor!)…”
This is one of my many, many favourite passages from one of my many, many favourite Prince songs. In particular the parts above about “electric word life” and ‘going crazy’ if the elevator tries to break you down, speak to me on a personal level.
Prince was, is and forever will be a musical genius: I don’t think many could argue that. He was a risk-taker and a rule-breaker, transforming stereotypes and ideals and turning the whole music genre upside down as he self-taught himself to play instruments, played the guitar with electricity and made sex of rnb and blues.
I feel awfully lucky to have grown up in the Prince era. It actually blows my mind that I am one of the lucky ones to have lived in the time of his living, too. I was influenced by him by first listening to my sister listen to him in her teenage years, and then grew to appreciate him on my own terms. Despite attending high school in the tail end of the 90s, his songs were a background to those uncertain and hormone-fuelled days. So many of his songs are number 1s in the soundtrack of my life. Bestie and I had an ongoing joke that we still refer to this day, which included his “Purple Rain,” while his other hits like “When Doves Cry,” “Kiss,” “Erotic City” and “Cream” all provided plenty of ammunition in that era of teen-angst and lust. I actually danced to “1999” at midnight with my cousins as we brought that year in! How many people can say they did that?! I feel honoured.
To this day, the background wallpaper on my phone contains the words ‘Electric,’ ‘Dance’ and ‘Rhythm of ur soul,’ images I took on my phone from the program I bought from his 2012 concert in Melbourne. When I think of how back then I toyed with the idea of going to his concert or not, I feel like slapping myself. And it was only because of money. The only seats we could get were at the very back row, and I wondered whether it was worth paying such coin when we would be so far from the action.
Best decision ever. It was a hazy photo from where we were and also from my half-decent camera back then, but you can see the man himself on his signature stage on the bottom. This ended up being one of the best concerts I’ve been to. He played at Rod Laver Arena, and anyone who has been there knows that you get a pretty good view there, no matter where you are, even at the back.
I learnt that very big lesson that night.
He played classics. He tore up the guitar, as he always does, but to see him in action like that… oh man. He was a true musician on stage, and I got emotional as he sang songs that held so much meaning to me, songs that I had grown up with and that each held a story in the journey of my life: “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy;” he gave nods to songs he wrote for other artists “Love, Thy Will be Done;” and he experimented with other artists by doing some Beyonce, with “Single Ladies.” I remember the crowd roared with insanity when he chose to cover that. He didn’t play one of my all time faves, the song titled in this post, yet it was still one incredible night, where the realisation dawned on me early on that something unusual, something magical, something out of this world was happening in that room. It was medley after medley, one huge dance party, and I remembered walking away like “Phew, thank God I got tickets!”
I’m usually reinvigorated by an artist and respect them that much more after seeing a live show of theirs. After seeing Prince, he was the biggest 180 degree-shifter for me, as he changed my perception of him, of things in general, of creativity and dreams, of life, and in particular his music, after that extraordinary May day in 2012. His musical genius and creative flair, his quirkiness and quiet confidence to live life his own way impacted me greatly. I would listen to his Purple Rain album, again and again. I fell in love with songs like ‘The Beautiful Ones,’ ‘Darling Nikki’ and ‘I Would Die For You.’ I heard the grunt and strain as he screamed the words, wanting to go as high and low as he did. I wanted to feel how he did, and when he sang, I really did. I felt the passion. I felt the dedication to the song, the music, the experience. It was transformative. Prince did things his way, and he did it with loyalty to the music. He was a success because he forged his own path, and he didn’t give two fucks about anyone who didn’t like him. THAT, is what everyone would like to do, only too many are scared to follow through. THAT, is one of the reasons why he was so revered.
This morning I was in the kitchen getting things ready for brekkie before baby girl got up. I had the TV on in the background, and as I went to get milk out of the fridge, I glanced at the TV in the other room. I saw an image of Prince as I turned to walk away, but a combination of curiosity and trepidation had me turn around and go back to the TV, where I gasped in horror as I saw the damn dash. That fucking dash.
1958 – 2016.
“No!” I stayed glued to the TV for the next 15 minutes, coming to terms with the fact that a man, a genius of 57 years (so, so young) was now dead. Gone. It just couldn’t be.
I’m still in shock, but the information has started to slowly sink in. With it too, that the world will never see another like him. That is simply, devastating. I know there are incredible artists out there, but to have the flair and style and flamboyancy, creativity and sex appeal and ability to get away with it all while producing creating acting singing dancing and playing guitar better than anyone EVER… will there ever be another Prince? No. And there shouldn’t be.
R.I.P Prince. Baby, You’re a Star.
“…Take Me Away!”
(An unbelievable introduction to this performer is found in this article following his 2012 concert in Melbourne)
I had to write about Prince today, and him being the Star that he is, I don’t think anyone can argue my crafty ‘S’ for that reason. I am so grateful to this Star, this genius, this musical prodigy, for the joy he has given me with his music and the inspiration he has fuelled me with in my own creative endeavours.
I have been listening to Prince all night now, and though I have shed tears, reading the metaphorical content between his words and finding they sting all the more now that he’s gone (“I may not know where I’m going babe” in The Beautiful Ones) it has been a dance party in this house as we have torn up the kitchen floor yet again. I’ll make sure his music lives on through baby girl. In fact, I think it will live on, regardless. Music offers that, in that it crosses barriers of gender, class, politics, and time. There’s a kind of beauty in that. Through his music, he will live forever.
And that just gives me hope, and another reason to be so utterly grateful.