A Distraught Prince Fan's First Thoughts On His Passing!
There are artists we all universally adore and revere for their supernatural talent. In the case of Prince, yes, his talent was supernatural. It wasn't God-given, though, it was something that Prince and Prince alone nurtured and developed over the years.
For all the kids who have ever picked up a musical instrument, very few keep at it and even fewer ever get to be proficient enough at their instrument to play in front of people. Of those people, few ever "Wow!' an audience, much less leave them sweat-drenched and rapturous, but Prince was a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who could do that in his sleep.
I can only imagine what it must have been like to have the whole world beating a path to his door after "1999" became a hit. Years before, a few of the hip sisters in my ninth grade history class had taken one look at my copy of Dirty Mind and said "Oh, look at the little fag in his sparkly drawers!"
I attempted to defend his greatness, but they were having none of it.
When they were no doubt swept up in "Purple Rain"-mania a few years later, I wonder if either of them ever went, "You know, I feel kinda sorry for calling him a fag to that white guy I used to cheat off of in history class."
I suspect that they did not.
The reason I bring this up is to not only brag that, even from my tiny little perch in the middle of fucking nowhere, I was able to recognize greatness years before the rest of you fucking poseurs could pull your heads out of your Top 40-loving asses and pay attention to this unique and downright otherworldly talent.
To those who discovered him prior to Dirty Mind, I bow my head in respect to your superior taste, but to the rest of you, what the fuck took you so long?
And why did so many of you go right back to not caring about him after Purple Rain?
Was it because it took a little bit of effort to devour two whole fucking albums of jaw-dropping greatness if the radio didn't spoon feed it to you? I'm talking about Sign O' The Times, of course, an album that is equal to Purple Rain in every way, except for "weeks at #1".
Purple Rain: 24 consecutive weeks
Sign O' The Times: 0
Was it that he'd worn out his welcome with two considerably weaker albums (Around The World In A Day and Parade) being given a lion's share of the promotion by a label eager to repeat the success of Purple Rain?
Or was it that the landscape had changed since those halcyon days of 1984 and that his kind (those who wrote, sang and performed their own material) weren't as cherished the rappers and hip hop acts that sampled his material?
Imagine having the musical dexterity and knowledge of someone like Prince watching the likes of MC Hammer get rich off of his work. This list has since grown to include Jay-Z, Beyonce and even the self-professed genius himself, Kanye Kardashian.
Prince, being just a wee bit savvy himself, attempted to play ball many times over the years, trying to incorporate sampling, digital technology and "featured guests" into his work, but it never rang as true as when he just picked up a guitar, or sat at a piano, and let his fingers do the talking.
Maybe Prince took the cultural shift harder than most because he, more than any of us, knew what we were losing by turning our backs on true genius and artistry, yet we couldn't be convinced to care.
That's not to say that Prince chose to take his own life over this, as no such details exist at this point, but it could most certainly have made him less willing to keep fighting.
"Why bother?" he must have asked himself. "Maybe the next world will make more sense."
I sincerely hope that it does because this one has gone right of the freakin' rails.
Superior St. Rehearsal Facility
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