“I was dreaming when I wrote this, so forgive me if it goes astray….”
Yesterday. The day the music died. Growing up in the 1980s, Prince was the soundtrack of my teens. There was something decadent about buying an album very few people had heard of and most of those who had, didn’t approve. My first Prince album was Dirty Mind, followed soon after by 1999. Living in a small town in Indiana, I really wasn’t exposed to music other than heavy metal, hair bands or Southern rock. While I could listen to that when I had to, I preferred the music I saw on MTV or heard when visiting out of town friends.
I could dance all night to those songs and I am sure I did.
“Life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last.”
I listened to 1999 nonstop, until Purple Rain came along. So many personal attachments to Purple Rain, I hear any song from the soundtrack and it’s 1984 again. I had been asked on my first official date, one where my parents let me go in a car with a boy. I looked forward to it all week, I really wanted to see the movie and I really liked the boy. Neither disappointed. After seeing the movie, I was assigned to write a review for my high school paper. The review was one of my first official assignments as a staff reporter. I wanted that review to be the best thing I had ever written. The words just came out. As a Prince fan, the writing was easy. Little did I know, my newspaper adviser had sent the review in for a contest and I placed. It was the first writing award I ever won. I felt like it was symbolic that I won for writing a piece about someone who dared to be different, dared to be himself. I felt like I was different. I listened to music most of my classmates never heard of and I wore clothes most of them wouldn’t be caught dead in either. Later that same year, I found a kindred spirit in a girl from California. She moved to our small town and in her I found someone who understood the music and the clothes.
“But it was Saturday night, I guess that makes it all right…and you say what have I got to lose?
I don’t think it was an official IU party in the 80s unless 1999 or Little Red Corvette was played. I can’t tell you how many times I danced to one or both of those songs in a dark fraternity party room. I know my roommate and I listened to some Prince song or another while getting ready for those parties, too.
Over the years, my love and appreciation for Prince never waned. I had to respect a man who took on his record company, changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and wasn’t afraid to re-invent himself while staying true to who he was as a person and an artist. Several years ago, he toured small venues with a jazz show. He did very few of his well known songs, he mostly did jazz and some blues. However, that short medley of his hits done in jazz style was unforgettable. I am grateful for the chance to see him live. I was unable to get tickets when he was in town last winter, I knew I would regret not paying for that ticket. However, I did not think I would regret it so soon after. Sitting in my classroom while students worked on photoshop, one of my students saw one of the early posts announcing his death. She told me and denial was my first thought. The journalist in me did not want to accept a post from TMZ. I needed a credible source, unfortunately less than 10 minutes later both the AP and CNN confirmed the news. The end of an era for me…and thousands, maybe millions, of others.
“Paint a perfect picture
Bring to life a vision in one’s mind
The beautiful ones
Always smash the picture
Always every time”