I first heard “Darling Nikki” out of a boom box in a barn. It was Homecoming and we were working on the Freshman float at a classmate’s farm. A much freer 14 year-old than I had a copy of Purple Rain and played it; a musical romp in the hay, raunchy as hell.
I am not a Music Person. I didn’t develop that way. The few musical memories of my childhood include The Captain and Tenille, Tony Orlando and Dawn and The Statler Brothers, all from a portable cassette player reserved for 9-hour car rides to the Upper Peninsula.
Homecoming 1994 made me a Prince Person and in the years to follow I became a devotee.
Sign o’ the Times, especially “Starfish and Coffee”, blew my tiny teenaged mind. It pushed me and opened me: AIDS, romance, religion and freedom packaged in a golden double cassette that I could not afford but bought anyway.
I ran endlessly to Lovesexy in the dead of summer. I worked a day-shift at an auto parts factory and then went running in the salty afternoons. I went running because I was about to join the Army. Running to make weight. Running from having to pay rent to my parents. Running past cornfields and roadkill down Shimmel Road. Running and struggling to hold on to my Walkman as the sweat puddled in the palm of my hand.
Batman came out and I had a new form of media over which to obsess.
I became an adult real quick while belting out “Sexy M.F”. from the The Love Symbol album. Remember Kirstie Alley from The Love Symbol album?
The B-Sides in 1993 had “Pope”:
So, you can be the President (you can be the President) [kick it]
I’d rather be the Pope (rather be the Pope)
(I’d rather be, so happy)
Yeah you can be the side effect (you can be the side effect)
I’d rather be the dope (rather be the dope)
(I ain’t scared of you mutha fuckers) [kick it]
which sampled Bernie Mac. Bernie Mac. RIP.
I remember requesting “Seven” at my friend’s wedding reception and the whole floor cleared expect for the two of us. Who the hell doesn’t like “Seven”? I ain’t scared of you mutha fuckers. Kick it.
It has been a few weeks since Prince died and just more than a month since I saw him live at Place des Arts. It has taken me this long to absorb the loss. I’ve yet to listen to his music, alone and at home where it could hurt the most, but I have immersed myself in other people’s stories and tributes:
This D’Angelo cover of “Sometimes it Snows in April” hits the hardest:
and this story of Prince challenging Jimmy Fallon to ping-pong makes me laugh:
I finally took my ticket stub and unopened CD from that March concert and put them in my safe.
I can’t believe I hadn’t opened it yet. Some devotee. But now I think about how my kids will have that heirloom and the value it might possibly hold and I’ve made my Prince with it.
“All good things, they say, never last
And love, it isn’t love until it’s past”