Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Reflection in Purple

It's been exactly one week--and maybe even to the hour--that a part of my childhood forever died. To say the untimely death of one of the best to ever do it left me in an amount of shock, hurt, pain, and devastation normally reserved for the loss of a family member is to put it mildly. No amount of classic songs, repeat watching of Purple Rain, tribute parties, or countless conversations with family and friends, have yet helped me--or any of those in my circle--fully accept the "purple permanence" of what is now our reality--a world without the genius we were blessed to experience being forever silenced. A mic literally dropped. A guitar rift reverberating off of the empty walls of our hearts. An iconic voice drifting into the eternal. Prince Rogers Nelson transitioned from living art to a monumental memory in the blink of an eye. And accepting that bitter truth is proving to so far be an insurmountable challenge.

With life's demands reducing me to one blog post per month, I certainly had no idea--or desire--to write one on yet another musical mastermind called away, after barely piecing myself back together at the news of the passing of A Tribe Called Quest's Malik "Phife Dawg" Taylor in March. The acceptance of losing one fourth of one of hip hops most iconic groups--and, yet, another part of my youth--was barely taking root in my conscious when the blow of Prince's passing arrived with the force of a wrecking ball. To say the first part of 2016, with the losses of so many of our musical treasures--Natalie Cole, Maurice White, David Bowie, and, ironically, Prince protege Vanity, to name a few--has been unfairly heavy, is an understatement, and finding a way to pay tribute to them all is indeed daunting. But Prince proved worth the challenge.

So much has been written about his Royal Badness in the span of a week--speculations on his life and death, think pieces, reflections from friends in and out of the business--that much like the man himself, who lived life on his own terms, own time, and in his own fantastical state, yet in unquestionable privacy but with unabashed freedom, there isn't much left to say. As I mustered up the energy--and courage--to even lend my reflections to his commemoration, I struggled with how to best do so.

Did I begin with my memories of sitting mere rows behind him during sound check in an employee-only filled Capital Center arena in November of 1984 (God bless my sister for taking me to work with her that day) or of countless hours playing "air piano" on my ivory dresser top, while daydreaming (read: scheming) of ways to leave home and rock out beside Lisa & Wendy or of reading every Right On and Black Beat magazine article I could find to try and catch an inside glimpse of my "boyfriend and future husband"
or of pouring over the one unauthorized biography of him floating around during the 80s to learn everything I could from his family tree to his prowess on the basketball court before mainstream media knew (or cared) or of the butterflies I got in learning my mother was finally relenting in letting me see Purple Rain or of the countless times I watched it when it finally dropped on VHS or to learning every song and video dance move of his and his proteges from Vanity 6 to Apollonia 6 to Sheila E. to the Time to the Family to making sure to try and tune into his performance on every award show and TV interview (though rare) to catching him in concert on a decade-by-decade basis--which seemed to always mark a major transformation in the essence that was Prince--to the recent discovery that I share my baptismal date with his birthday (I promise you that wasn't planned) to the recent solace I found in friends as well as strangers as we traded stories and memories similar to my own, that I'm sure are also the memories of countless, immeasurable fans around the world.

So as I struggle with how to best remember the Artist, the Symbol, the Icon, the Legend; how to start a blog post worthy of all that he was and a legacy that now begins; how to find some way to put on paper the impact that both his being and departing made on me, I realize I just did. And for that, I simply say thank you, Prince, for the memories, for the music, and for the magic that was and always will be you...

...Til the dawn.

Photo credits: N/A