I think I have been mourning Prince’s death on April 21 of this year and am finally just coming to terms with it, or at least talking a little more about it rather than just playing his music over and over again with, let’s face it, very little repetition because he was so prolific. I don’t know what to write about Prince and his death that won’t already have been written. I knew the day he died at age 57. And I find it strange that I’m still in mourning.
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at the shock of his sudden death, though. Several people who were near and dear to me have died over the past couple of years, and they’ve died far too young, including my father’s younger brother, my Uncle Bill, this past summer. And it seems that they all died without warning. It’s making me face my mortality at a time when I should still be teetering between the excesses of youth and old age and having some sort of mid-life crisis. David Bowie dying earlier this year really affected me too, but Prince, not Prince please!
I just don’t know what to do with myself. I have grown into the woman I am today with the soundtrack of Prince throughout my life. I was first introduced to his music by a high school boyfriend and it provided great make out music in my youth. Beyond that, some days I would dance with joy to his music and celebrate life with passion and some days I would sit and listen to the lyrics of songs like Sometimes it Snows in April, and weep.
I was listening to that song the other day when I realized that he died in April and I couldn’t stop the sobs from shaking me. The first time I heard that song, I was on the cusp of going to college and being out in the world by myself for the first time. I cried then, too, but it was a gentle cry with a Demi Moore-like tear. And it makes me wonder at how emotion resonates and grows deeper and more complex across the years because now the cry was a solid, deep, shaking ugly cry. Great music, great books, and great art is like that.
And after this year and last, I am beginning to think that musicians have some sort of psychic ability to foresee their parting from this world – what with David Bowie’s last video – Lazarus – and then that song by Prince. But the truth is – the great artists lay out the truth in their art – bone bare. And the truth is that death comes to us all. No one escapes it. It is not elegant or charming. It just is.
And our choice is whether we want to stop or keep going – and, hopefully, keep going like them – diving into life and everything it has to offer and offering all of our gifts up to the world. I’m not sure what I have to offer. I can’t play the many, many instruments that Prince could play or write my own music or lyrics. And you probably don’t want me to even attempt his moves. But I can give what is me.
So instead of sitting around crying to Prince songs, when I had the chance to visit some friends in Cleveland, Ohio, I decided to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to visit his memorial. It wasn’t very big. The docents or volunteers or groupies or whatever they call them said that most of Prince’s paraphernalia is at Paisley Park and being closely guarded by the family right now. I understand that. They must still be in shock at his sudden death. It was still amazing to see his memorial and listen to his music and video and see his signature when he was inducted. And to realize how he touched and influenced so many other artists because his voice was so unique and unexpected.
Maybe I’m panicked because I still feel like I’m a work in progress and I have soooo much to do. Maybe I’m mourning because I still need to hear the deep, dark, dirty, bone bare Prince truth again and I want to be amazed by the new music he might have been creating and have it wash over me with wave after wave of cruel emotion and dancing thoughts.
So I think the best thing I can do to honor him is to tell the truth myself. To just be me. And to reach out to the world with what I can give. What an incredible act of love it is to be creative and open yourself to the world – thank you so much Prince. May God bless you and keep you close to him. And I’d like to believe that there is one more amazing concert to go to in heaven. But I’ll still miss you here on earth.