RIP – Prince Rogers Nelson (1958 – 2016)
Today will be one of those moments that lives on in my memory.
A co-worker and friend came into my office. She and I are the same age, both of us are ’80s kids. I could tell that she was stunned. She had that look of unbelief. When she finally found her words, she told me that Prince had died. My first reaction was to think that she must mean the Prince of Wales or the Prince of some other country that I’m not familiar with. But she hadn’t said the prince. She’d said Prince. And we all know there is only one Prince. We looked at each other in silence and she left the room. I pushed the thoughts away and finished my work day. On my way home, the radio was filled with Prince songs and it finally hit me that it was true.
My mind did that whirligig thing that minds often do when we find out that something in our world has drastically changed forever. I was suddenly back in 1982, 15 years old.
I grew up in a small town, out in the country. MTV was new. It was all the rage. And, if I wanted to see it, I had to hang with my city friends. My best friend’s mom had cable installed and I spent a lot of time at their house watching MTV with my girlfriend.
MTV – it was our thing. Of our generation. We missed out on the summer of love (1967). We missed the summer of the drugs (late ’70s). But, dang it, we were edgy and trendy in our own way with MTV. It was our thing. No one had ever had it before.
In those days, MTV was all about music videos. Those videos brought music to life in a way we’d never seen before. Prior to that, you might sorta, kinda know what a band looked like from a TV appearance, teen magazines, or, if you were lucky, the album cover, but mostly you didn’t. It was just the sound and the words that carried the song. But MTV changed all that. For the first time, we really got a good look. It added a whole new dimension to music.
Nobody added to those early days of MTV more than Prince. He was, for all intense and purposes, this little guy, who rocked our world in a big way. Everybody I knew could sing all the words to 1999. A few years later, Purple Rain became the anthem of the Class of 1984.
The sound-track of my high school and college years all include Prince. 1999 makes me think of a dance that I went to at a convention in Atlanta. Let’s Go Crazy makes me think of riding around town with the windows down on a Friday night with all my friends. Little Red Corvette makes me think of the drive home from college when I could sing to the top of my lungs. Purple Rain makes me think about the night that my best girlfriends from high school and I piled into my car and rode to the next city over to see the movie. Raspberry Beret makes me think of the first guy that I met in college who wrote songs with all the Us and 2s like Prince.
Prince was the Beatles of our time.
I never met Prince in real life, but as you can see, he’s been with me. Mostly, through good times, but there are songs that he sang that touched sadder parts of my life. When Doves Cry is one I didn’t discuss, but it has significant meaning for me. So, the note above (posted on John Tesh’s facebook page) hits the nail on the head. Prince’s passing saddens me. I know I am not alone.