For the last few days, I’ve been listening to music composed and performed by Prince. He was a huge influence in music around the world. To me, his music punctuated significant moments, a rite of passage from my teen years to the present. He was always present, not necessarily always on my mind, but never far. I’d always have a least one of his albums on my Walkman and now my iPhone so I could listen to his music.
Up close, I heard his songs in my head with headphones in my ears and I imagined like everyone else that he would go on for ever, or at least I was well into my old age. He just seemed eternal, didn’t age like the rest of us.
Then last Wednesday 21st, as I arrived home, my husband told me the news. I’m still adjusting to the idea that there will never be anymore new work by Prince, never any shows that he’ll announce and get the press and public excited over. No more surprises.
He never stopped evolving, transforming and changing, his music went from commercial pop to something altogether more sophisticated, it reflected his audience, they grew up and their tastes changed too.
I’ve been looking at all the interviews he’s given, he mentions his faith, he talks about his fans and how they now bring their families to his shows.
All of this was new to me, he wasn’t just a distant musical genius, his interviews and his Princetagram and tweets show him to be humble, hard working and funny. I’ll never be able share future stories of seeing him in concert with my kids. I will only be able to tell them about him, show them the music he created and the only time that we saw him perform live at the O2 back in 2007.
He made a big impact on music and on me, a young impressionable teenager, who saw him for the first time at the Cinema, in Christoper Tracey’s Parade, a black & white film. I wasn’t allowed to see Purple rain, and I’m not sure that I would have understood it.
And when I went to see Christopher Tracy’s Parade, I saw it with my future husband, though I didn’t know this at the time.
The film was so different to anything at the Cinema, it had a style of it’s own. Prince, dressed in his power 80s costumes, glittering and shiny with big doll like eyes, more beautiful than the female lead, what I saw was someone who had created through their imagination a world that looked beautiful, sad and nostalgic. All the ingredients for an impressionable teenager to fall in love with.
By the time I was studying for a degree in music, I had saved up and bought two of his albums, Parade and Sign of the Times on vinyls at the time. My husband had other Prince albums, so we used to listen to these together, just the ordinary kind of things teenagers used to do.
The albums I owned were sandwiched amongst classical albums of Mozart and Beethoven, composers I was studying. They still are in my vinyl record collection that I haven’t been able to part with.
I listened to his music, alternating between the serious business of studying for music exams and well just listening to music that I loved.
My favourite song by Prince is in the title of this post. There’s a lovely version I found on YouTube which you can hear by clicking on this link: And Sometimes it Snows in April. It snowed a day or so after he passed away. As I watched the snow gently fall outside the windows of the glass building of our offices in Canary Wharf, I could hear the song in my mind, I wasn’t really in the mood for the meeting or work, just kept thinking about the sad news and how strange and quiet the snow was falling.
At 6.07pm (ET) 4th of May, Radio Stations in the US will be simutaneously broadcasting Nothing Compares 2 U. I don’t think the idea has reached the UK, so this post is my way of joining in from the UK.
To me Prince represented life, bigger, exaggerated, full of energy, the kind that was on an epic scale that was glorious and full of colour, a life lived in 4K, high definition, to the Max. I wonder whether that’s the reason for his signature colour Purple.
I don’t think he’s really gone, his physical presence perhaps. I remind myself that the greatest composers in previous centuries such as Beethoven or Mozart, they still live on when people perform their music. They created a new sound and music historians refer to their time and genre as Baroque (Handle & Bach) Classical (Mozart), Romantic (Beethoven), in the future, there’s going to be a term to define Prince and his style of music, because just saying he created a fusion between R&B, Jazz and Pop and crossed all musical definitions, well I don’t think that’s enough. I think we need a new way of defining what his genre of music is, because so many musicians have been influenced and inspired by his music and so many People have enjoyed experiencing it.
Prince started to write about transcendence and still being able to communicate in a metaphysical sense, in the album called Art of Offical Age. I like to think that he’s not really gone forever, it’s just temporary and somehow, he’s actually found a way to move beyond the physical world and into another plane of existence, perhaps this seems crazy, but then not so long ago, people thought the Earth was flat and we’ve since discovered through science, it’s actually round.
And even if this is just wishful thinking on my part, one thing is for sure, we’ll find him through his art when ever we listen to his music.
Farewell Prince, I wish you heaven.