R.I.P. Prince- Take 2- The Life-Changer

Two days later [three as of the day publishing this post]… I’m still not quite believing it.
Today I put together a video paying tribute to him by panning over the side of my room full of memorabilia. Basically, all the physical CD’s I own, the DVD’s I have, magazines and articles I saved, and my stuff of The Time- the three albums and all the stuff from their concert I went to.
After adding “Father’s Song” and watching it through to make sure it was timed well, I almost broke down.

Honestly, I haven’t had that big emotional outburst yet- although I’m still waiting for it to creep in and kill for me for a couple hours.
My thoughts on the first day or so- it’s hard to miss him when his spirit lives on in his music. But there were moments at work (we are allowed ipods and personal music) where I had to listen to something from him.
Going through The Gold Experience album on the way home, during Dolphin I had to master my emotions towards the end. I wondered if that’s how he came back in his next life…
Then during “Gold”- a song that’s very personal to me- I finally let myself go in the end. First time I cried for Prince since hearing he died.

And actually I’d gotten up a few times during the night and when I went back to sleep, I think I started crying again for a minute or two. Like I was starting to accept he’s gone. Another brief moment.
20/20 on ABC did a really nice tribute for him Friday night.
And I’ll see some more tonight. Well, his Oprah appearance. But also Saturday Night Live will do tributes.

So the latest- he eerily died in an elevator, fans are gathering at First Avenue and outside Paisley Park, and his body was just cremated today.
It shouldn’t surprise me considering how he is about idol worship and such- but that makes this more final…
I also couldn’t help but think what a loss that is for female kind. Considering the number of sexual exploits he’s rumored to have had in his life, he must have been great in bed.
Although he had been celibate for the last couple years- last I heard.
…I could blame my dirty mind on him, but I really don’t have an excuse for taking this train of thought. I hope it’s not found to be in poor taste. It’s not as if I’d spent a lot of time fantasizing about sleeping with him… I’d thought about having conversations with him about his music, though. In a couple of dreams (all G-rated, I promise), we had conversations like that. And they were brief, but deep.

Watching him on Oprah right now… phew… just as floored as I always am with him. It’s surprising that he’s doing his old songs even under the new name. I thought he’d want to get separation from that and just do the new songs. “Do me baby” and “If I was your girlfriend”- I didn’t know when I saw this the first time.
And it’s sad to see him and Mayte together with all the things that wouldn’t happen between them.
In retrospect, it might be a good thing that he never had any kids. They’d never be able to live up to this legacy. There’d be too much pressure.

Since I heard the news, I think I’d been walking around with a hole in my chest where my heart should be. An emptiness that may not be filled again. All the music does is help me forget that it’s there at all.
But it feels like each day, it becomes more real… and I really don’t want it to.

But while I fend off the inevitable, I DID have a point to this entry- and it was going over the legacy Prince left me in the 9 years I’d been listening to him.
…even now, it’s still kinda hard for me to say “fan” with him because he hated the word… that’s never gonna go away.
And it’s also getting harder to not recognize all the references I can draw to his songs.

The funny thing with Prince is that he’d come into my life a couple of times and I’d always been kinda intrigued and fascinated by him. All those opportunities to jump into his music- and I never took any of them.
when I saw the 1999 video the first time- it was 1998 at the time, I think.
when I first heard “I would die 4 u” on my dad’s mix CD
when Purple Rain was on TV and I kinda fell in love (but not enough to dig out dad’s Purple Rain album and listen to it)
when Prince performed on American Idol (great surprise- cuz I heard a rumor he was considering being at the finale but wasn’t sure) and Good Morning America.

The SuperBowl HalfTime show was the first time I’d seen the halftime show all the way through… I was such a football fan that I hated having any sort of interruption.
…he set the standard for all future HalfTime shows… only Bruno Mars and Madonna came close. [Bruce Springsteen also, but I’m not a HUGE fan of his]
The night before, I had a dream that I was in line to get into one of his concerts, so deep down, I knew I was maybe a little more excited to see Prince perform than Peyton Manning finally getting into a SuperBowl (even him winning was second to the performance)… I like to think of my dreams as prophetic, but sadly, that’ll never be the case.

I think the day after that it was going to be the same story again- we’d go our separate ways and that was it.
But then I stumbled across a website with a dozen of his videos. I started with “Little Red Corvette” and the rest was history after that… I’m convinced that Prince was meant to become part of my life at a certain time. And it had to have been when I was ready for him. When I’d have the free time to explore his music. But also I was mature enough to handle whatever content he had. I knew he had a reputation for being eccentric and such, but I don’t know if I realized how risqué his music was.

So for starters, he got me comfortable with hearing cussing and also all kinds of sexual innuendo. Because he did it in such an artistic way that wasn’t quite as in your face (although occasionally, he was very in your face about it), I couldn’t be too offended or intimidated. Although there was still some intimidation.
“Darling Nikki” was a song that took me a while to fully embrace and enjoy.
And to clarify, it wasn’t as if I had a strict upbringing or I was enrolled in Catholic schools my whole life. My being naïve and intimidated about these things just came naturally to me. The idea of sex and intimacy, I still find a little intimidating. But it has become a lot easier in recent years to deal with sex scenes in movies and such. Prince started me on that path of acceptance.
But of course there’s always a limit- it has to have something to do with the plot. Otherwise, it isn’t just excessive, but also pointless. And sex shouldn’t be pointless.

Next- I learned so much about music and how it’s contrasted and what it’s contrasted with because of him. Mainly because I had conversations with other admirers on message boards and they went into detail about the instruments he used and such. Wouldn’t be able to spot a Linn-drum machine on an 80’s track or identify a Fender Stratocaster guitar or Oberheim keyboards if I hadn’t known he used them.
Another fascinating aspect was all his pseudonyms that he used to write for other artists. But also the alter ego Camille- which is supposedly a female persona he created by speeding up his voice. I’d heard nearly all the songs he’d written with that voice- most were designated for an album that wound up becoming part of the “Sign o’ the Times” 2-disc album- all of them I really like a lot.
I paid attention to songwriters, but never knew what record producers did until I got to know him. It’s an interesting process- putting extra power behind certain instruments and editing vocals. There’s a story where his engineer accidentally had the wrong setting on the back-up vocals and it got distorted. But he apparently didn’t mind- she wasn’t fired after that. [Susan Rodgers worked with him on Purple Rain and some other albums from the 80’s]

I also didn’t know what a B-side was before him: when singles were released on records, on the flipside of the record is a different song. And Prince, that song has some similarity to the A-side. Almost like it’s the same subject matter, but told in a different way, from a different point of view. Like “Let’s go crazy” and “Erotic City”- both have a party aspect to them, but it’s a different kind of a party. Or at least it feels like a party atmosphere.
Couldn’t even conceptualize anyone writing so many songs that they don’t release. Or that bootlegs can leak out and fans share them with each other.

It took a while, but I opened myself up to other artists he wrote for and was associated with.
Wendy & Lisa I especially grew to like a lot. I have three of their albums in mp3’s, although I’d only heard 2 of them. Their self-titled album became my summer soundtrack- especially when we go to our shore house.
Them and The Time I gave a chance after VH1 Soul had a marathon of protégé music videos. Both had songs from them I liked enough that I had my eye out.
“What Time is It?” I lucked into- I was with a friend on our way to see the midnight premiere of “Twilight” our animé club was going to- and we stopped by a Circuit City. Hadn’t seen the album since. Still my favorite album by Morris Day and The Time.

And of course because of Prince, I jumped at the chance to see Morris Day in concert. Wouldn’t have known who he was or even considered this local concert. It was for an R&B music event that was 5 minutes down the road from me. And I was likely the only white person there. Didn’t mind that at all. I was there for some good music.
I had flashes of excitement from Evelyn Champagne and Harold Melvin & the Blue-Tones I REALLY liked a lot. And it was totally worth the wait- The Time was the very last act and they didn’t disappoint. Especially they did all my favorite songs and they sounded just like they did on the album.
Best concert I’d ever been to. I mean, Jesse McCartney being at Point Pleasant beach where I was six feet from the stage and got to meet him afterwards- that was special. But Morris Day had better music and the best part was that I knew the words to almost all the songs. That’s not something I can say very often- but I also need to go to more concerts. This is the last one I’d been to and it’s almost 4 years ago.

Prince is the reason I got an iPod. I fought off the digital age of music for a long time. Didn’t want to give up my CD’s. Then I found out that you can put all your CD’s on a iPod and it wasn’t just the songs on iTunes.
I got my iPod in 2008 (a year after buying my first Prince album- and also with my first ever paychecks) so I wouldn’t have to worry about deciding what albums to bring with me to college or between classes. I had all of them at my disposal.
Got it exclusively for his music and nobody else was on it… until 2010. We were going to Australia and I needed a lot of music to get me through the flights and such. And since then, the other music has stayed and there’s been less of him. Not because I fell out of love with his music- although I had a couple periods where there was disenchantment, not being happy with him not doing any touring, and not releasing any music. But I’d always come back.
I went through so much of his music so quickly in my first couple years that I did burn out- I will admit.
But I always came back. And it was kinda cool to fall back in and love and also find new things.

With the other people I listen to, I find myself in their music and it’s also good therapy for me cuz I can channel whatever emotions I’m feeling into their music. And there’s also the nostalgia aspect.
With Prince- music was more of an experience. I was experiencing him, learning more about what makes him tick, decoding the mysteries, but also finding more. But what set him apart feeling all these extra emotions I never knew I had in me. Just by singing in falsetto or having notes in the right key. And the subject matter he approached- I never heard anyone talk about sex in music and do it so tactfully and artistically. His music stretched my mind in new and interesting directions. The impossible was made possible.

A few people have tweeted saying how he was the soundtrack of their lives.
I’d like to say that Prince got me through college. He was with me for 5 semesters. And for a couple of them, I didn’t have anyone else. My roommates and I lived separate lives the first semester. It’s not that we didn’t get along, I just didn’t connect with them like I did with my first roommate, Susan. But with a lot of people, I’m extremely shy- it’s hard for me to be myself and really open up because I’m afraid people won’t get me.
In a couple classes, we were writing about artistic things or had to be creative and being around his music helped put me in the mindset to be effective in getting my point across.
That summer became the summer of Prince easily. The apex of it was 7.7.07- it was cool how he did hit & run concerts in Minneapolis that night. But also that day, I spent over $100 in music- it helped that FYE had a “buy 3 used, get one free” promotion. I got 4 Prince albums that day- Sign o’ the times (used), Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic (used), 1999 (new), and O(+> (got that on Best Buy).

I never considered buying used music before Prince because chances are I wouldn’t be able to find a lot of brand new music from him- not the older albums anyway. So I couldn’t blow that off. And all of them have been great purchases, no glitches or scratches. “The Gold Experience”- one of my favorite albums if not my favorite by him- I found used at FYE for $17.99. It was worth every dollar.
And after getting the 20th anniversary edition of Purple Rain, I took advantage of ALL the special features. All the behind-the-scenes stuff. My first time listening to DVD commentary. Since then, I’ve watched TONS of special features and sat through at least half a dozen DVD commentaries. Maybe that was what turned me onto to finding out about how movies are made- which could have let eventually to my movie-blogging.

Planet Earth was the first brand new album I bought- it was released in stores in 2007. So it’s a personal favorite of mine. I hope with Prince’s passing more people will fall in love with it because it was given a REALLY hard time in the fan community.

Spring semester of 2008 started on a particularly stressful and lonely note. That year I had a two person dorm, but nobody moved in with me. I looked forward to having the room to myself to lose myself in his music- I liked my last roommate, but it seemed like whenever I was on the threshold of having an epiphany with his music, she and her friend could come to the room and interrupt my train of thought with their chatter.
But I was feeling really low- and what saved me from despair was disc one of his Sign o’ the times album. The second disc has my favorite songs on it, but I was afraid if I chose it that my expectations for having a good time wouldn’t be met (I watched “Mean Girls” earlier that day and it didn’t help cheer me up)… there was less pressure with the first disc with the subject matter not being as personal. And it was good to get away from myself and focus on some other things. It was very cathartic.

Prince also gave me another excuse to hang out with Susan. She had an active social life, but when I was given the opportunity to move to another dorm (my roommate wanted to move her friend in and I was cool with that) I went where she was so I could see her a little more often. Saw her a couple times and when I found out she liked him too, I proposed we watch “Under the Cherry Moon” and “Purple Rain” together. We laughed occasionally, but kinda watched in silence.
I saw her friend Albert around a lot when I shared a dorm with her- and when I was going through album notes, he saw and said how he liked Musicology and 3121.
I just sent her a message on Facebook- not sure how big she was into his music, but she certainly appreciated his artistry like few people I knew. At least outside prince.org. And I’d been meaning to touch base with her for a while.

Around the time Prince found me this time, I was very disenchanted with the music on the radio. I liked a handful of songs, but not enough to hitch my star to anybody. And the people I went to college with had horrible taste in music. I remember one spring day at the college apartments where a block party of sorts was happening and they were playing garbage. Hip-hop, rap and such. I shut myself in my apartment, took a shower to drown the loud music piping outside, and then I put on his Musicology album to remember what real music is supposed to sound like.
As someone who loves music and uses it to escape the pressures of everyday life, to find nothing of substance on the radio… it was really hard. Kinda like being lost at sea without a life preserver.
Prince saved me over those years. Then 2009 came along and it was the beginning of the great period I’m still in right now. Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift debuted on the radio. American Idol started putting out some singers I wanted to buy music from. The Voice began and I became an even bigger Maroon 5 fan. So what I’m ultimately saying is that Prince helped me survive until the right people came into music.
Even if I was the only person on campus that liked him, I couldn’t care less.

Despite finding some friends I could really be myself around in my last couple semesters of college, I still think Prince’s music also made me more solitary. I am a little too comfortable with being alone with myself sometimes. And it probably isn’t healthy, but it’s easy. Easier than being myself and being embarrassed and risking being outcast because people don’t get me. Although I have kinda been like that as long as I can remember.

And there was one other time where I listened to Prince while stressing about a research paper- I didn’t know how to write the introduction, so I took a break and listened to his Diamonds & Pearls album. That freed my mind just enough to get me going.

In addition to the subject of sex, Prince also opened my mind at bit more to spirituality. LoveSexy is a particularly interesting album. A fellow admirer I’m good friends with- he more or less talked me into the album- although I had been interested since someone sent me The Black Album. There’s an interesting story about those two albums and the mystery of Prince is very much at the center of it.
Unfinished or not, if his autobiography ever gets released, it’d be cool if that mystery was finally solved. Why did he pull The Black Album from release? Does “Anna Stesia” really explain the reasoning behind it as rumored by fans?
My friend also sent me a copy of The Rainbow Children to see what I’d think. An interesting, but very odd album. I’m not a huge fan of it.

And I guess lastly, Prince is the reason I have this blog. I kinda regret that I didn’t start it soon… and I could have written down my first reactions to the first albums and Purple Rain and such.
Been in operation since April 2007 and still going strong (although now I have much more to talk about- but probably will spend the next couple entries on Prince).

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