As I write this, I am once again numbed and stunned by yet another crushing blow to the world of music in 2016.
The strange sensation in my throat is a lump I can’t fight down. I feel physically ill and only now have the tears stopped cascading.
Now that the hands have stopped shaking, I can proceed.
Prince Rogers Nelson — AKA ‘Prince’ — tragically passed away today, leaving behind years of as yet unrealised musical possibilities.
I’m not going to give you a Wikipedia cut and paste biography: what an utter waste of time, and an insult to his legacy.
Instead, I’m going to give you a little back story on how I came to adore this multi-talent machine as an artist and an inspiration.
Oh, don’t get me wrong: I’ve heard numerous snippets of gossip on what a prick he was off stage. But I’m not talking about his personal life here: I’m talking about his prodigious level of genius.
My first memory of Prince was my mum telling me he was a weirdo, but that only intrigued me more. Then, slowly but surely, I’d catch tunes like ‘Raspberry Beret’ and ‘Little Red Corvette’ which both — as well as many more — became anthems for the 80s generation I grew up in.
He was a pint sized performer, full of pent up frenetic energy, redefining the word eccentric with his ostentatious clothing and androgynous look & demeanor.
But once again, I’ve always been drawn to that which is weird. Above average. Not of the norm. For they are the people who make the world sparkle. And, god damn it, Prince was an entire galaxy unto himself.
His ripping electro riffs, his haunting piano solos, his lyrics that fluctuate from heart-wrenching to cutesy shucksydoodles to sexually charged soundtracks of seduction, vocals that fluctuate from sexy tenor to piercing soprano… I could sit here and write about him all day, but still wouldn’t do the man justice.
I veered off track. Apologies. Now, leaping back to my early teen years: the more songs I heard, the more I wanted to learn about this enigma named ‘Prince.’
I once read in a Smash Hits magazine that he taught himself how to play piano at age 9! What the??? He added more instruments to his arsenal, until eventually he could flawlessly play 27 different instruments.
When I turned 14, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to own his music for myself. For Christmas that year, I got his ‘The Hits’ collection on cassette tape. It was the greatest moment of my life, because I finally had a piece of him I could hold in the palm of my hand.
Yes, I buried myself in his music. I listened obsessively and repeatedly, snagged myself on every single hook and sung along to every single syllable.
This man is the reason I love music so much, and closely following the rest of his catalogue slowly steered me away from the mainstream pop music that girls my age were supposed to enjoy.
Fuck being put into a category, and fuck doing what society expects of you. Prince taught me that, too. Not in a rebellious, law-breaking way. More in a: ‘yes, I listen to Prince and play with Tonka Trucks, NO I will not sit with my legs crossed, NO I don’t care if it’s not ladylike, YES I’ll wear jeans and T-shirts instead of dresses if I want to!” kind of way.
He helped me discover my true self, sns encouraged me to pursue my passions instead of doing what was always expected of me.
That, right there, is why I love him so.
That, right there, is why I will continue to celebrate his entire catalogue til the end of my days.
Oh and PS: he writes about 99% of his own songs, too. Oh AND, he has written songs for other performers, launching some of them from obscurity!
* Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U (personally, I prefer his version)
* Tom Jones – Kiss (same again)
* Martika – Love, Thy Will Be Done
Yep, they were all Prince’s.
Please, if you aren’t too familiar with his music, do the world of music a favour and check out his stuff. I bet you find yourself saying: “ahhhhh! I didn’t know this was him!” more than once.
Later, I will be listening to all my favourites and having another silent weep for him.
This is a void that simply cannot be filled, no matter how hard the music industry will try.
Prince was an international treasure, incomparable and unmatched, and so shall he always be.