Forgive me, if this one is a doozy. It’s been a hell of a week around here.
(Hold out till the end, there’s a video of the memorial!)
I live in Minnesota, just outside of Minneapolis. I actually live about ten minutes from Paisley Park. Where Prince lived. Where Prince died. I don’t have a “prince story”. To be honest, even if I had ever come across Prince in my daily life, I’m not sure I would have even approached him. I’m not an “star meeter”. I don’t generally try to meet musicians after shows, or ask for autographs, etc. It makes my anxiety shoot through the roof if I try. If I had ever saw him, I probably would have smiled at him and ran away. (I’d like to think he’d have appreciated that, too.)
People can say what they want, but it won’t matter to me how or why he died. He was a musical and lyrical genius, and he is gone from this world far too soon. I found a documentary on Amazon streaming about him, done in 2008. It gave me a whole new perspective on the man.
Yes, Prince received numerous awards and nominations. Watching the documentary on him though, I had a personal revelation.
From the very beginning, Prince refused to let other people produce his albums. Many of his albums hit the charts, because of one or two songs on them. Many of his albums are considered failures (by the general public). What strikes me, is that maybe Prince didn’t care about the “outside world” labeling any of his works as failures or successes. Because they weren’t about that. That man could play almost any instrument in the world I think, and why? Because he kept trying and learning new things. He kept growing. He never compromised his work in order to “please” an audience. Egotistical or not, Prince expected his audience to evolve and understand HIS music on HIS terms. That takes hutzpah.
I consider myself an artist. It took me a long time to actually be able to introduce myself as such. I have often worried whether it’s egotistical to call myself an artist, given I can count on my fingers then number of works I have sold. I’m ashamed that I have felt that way now.
Art isn’t about what sells. Selling or not selling is after that act of making it, not part of it. It’s commerce, not art.
Art for me, needs to be focused on experimentation, learning and growth. If Prince had quit after his first album did poorly, look at all we would have missed. Art for me, needs to be non-compromising. I can’t make or not make things simply to keep others “happy”. Art needs to have a feminist approach for me. Even if there are some out there that want to bully me for it. Art needs to be about me, for me. If I’m not putting “me” into my work, what will differentiate it from anyone else’s work?
It’s strange to mourn someone you never met, until you realize it’s not just the person you are mourning. You mourn the loss of his talent, words, truth.You mourn the courage he gave people. You mourn the timeline upon which his songs serve as an instant flashback whenever you hear them. You mourn the time you have let slip away, in which you perhaps have not fought for your dreams. You find yourself thankful for the reminder, given by the shock and sadness of his early departing, that you need to dust yourself off and continue to push towards your goals and dreams.
I’m thankful for what he has left us. I am thankful we still have his music, that when pumping in a club, can still make us lose our shit and dance our hearts out all night long.
“All 7 and we’ll watch them fall
They stand in the way of love
And we will smoke them all
With an intellect and a savoir-faire
No one in the whole universe
Will ever compare?
7 by Prince