I’ll never forget the time, about a year before my husband and I were married, that I announced, “Prince is so sexy!” I made my bold declaration well within earshot of my future mother-in-law. It was a different time then. We were in Jackson, Mississippi and the year was 1983. She was shocked. When I tell my adult children this story now, they are surprised to learn that in the early 80s, 20 year-old white girls didn’t go around telling their southern belle mother-in laws they were crushing on an African-American musician. Who was her son marrying?
Just a normal girl.
If you don’t believe me, watch the coverage of Prince’s passing all over the news this week. People of every age, gender, race, creed and color are mourning the loss of this talented musician. I am in good company. A lot of people dug Prince. A lot.
My husband suggested yesterday that I write a blog about Prince. I dismissed it as a bad idea immediately.
‘I don’t even know him…’ I reasoned to myself. I write about people I know. That wouldn’t seem right. Matter settled.
Until about an hour ago, when I was working out at the Y. I settled my ear buds in, pushed GO on the stair-climber and hit SHUFFLE on my music. The music blared, and all of a sudden, without forewarning, Prince was in my ears. I felt a thud in my heart when I remembered he was gone. I turned his song up extra loud and climbed.
And sweated and climbed and listened. And thought about how I don’t know Prince and couldn’t possibly write about him. Then I wondered what it means to actually know someone.
Is it possible listen to a song like, “When Doves Cry,” a million times (a song Prince purportedly wrote in less than 2 hours for the album Purple Rain, released in 1984) and not know the genius heart that beats behind that piece of art? The lyrics and the poetry that speaks to so many; a metaphor for a relationship that yearns for perfection, were it not for all the pain.
I started thinking about a recent visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I was mesmerized by so many of the works on display there. Spellbound like everyone else by The Old Masters and their proteges. I felt as though the messages they were sending through their work resonated in my soul. And in some way, I was connected to each artist through their art. The way I was supposed to be. The way the artists intended.
And then I thought about all the books I’ve read through the years. I thought about the kinship I felt with each and every author and writer; as if we were old friends. If I ever chanced to meet these people in the flesh, I would surprise them by my overt familiarity. I would dive right in, no need for introductions – picking up where the book left off. No need to back track or catch me up. I’m already there…
…I read your book. I stared at your painting for an hour. I played your music over and over and over again for more than 30 years.
I know you at least well enough to know I’ll miss you. You sexy thing, You.