Prince’s last concert in Atlanta,Georgia, summed up his continuing evolution from the young man with his guitar who was everywhere on the stage – to the mature man on the stage with only his piano. He had nothing left to prove, yet this intimate setting did prove, among other things and that was the fact that all he needed was his beautiful music – his extraordinary musicianship,and his fans. For those who attended – it was a wonderful experience, and as he gave to them, his audience gave back – singing back to him or with him – as they had always done, even when the stage was filled with a band, vocalists and such.
Now, since his passing – the refrain of Purple Rain has echoed all over the world inherent within the sadness which words cannot speak – so the world sings its sadness – as if singing to him, for him, about him and at the same time allowing the sadness and love to escape into the universe itself. One must know that, for a couple of nights – this big blue ball we call ‘earth’ – turned purple, witnessed by the international outpouring of grief, including the lighting of landmarks bathed in purple light. The musical tributes fill the air with even ‘The Boss’, (Bruce Springsteen),opening his show with a tribute performance of ‘Purple Rain’,Aretha Franklin singing Purple Rain at the White House;Minnesota Wild bathing the arena in purple light, and so much more.
The truth is that it appears as if each individual thought Prince belonged to them alone – for all those times when dancing to his music, or crying to it, when it was just them and Prince, an intimacy was formed between artist and fan that cannot be compared. Perhaps that personal feeling is what each fan carried within their hearts for his fans had nothing to prove either – Prince was theirs and that was just that. Commencing with the early years, when it took courage to be a fan – when he was such a different and bad boy. But even then, fans refused to abandon him, while and giving a figurative finger to the ‘establishment’ which had initially tried to ostracize him, and remained fans until his dying day, . Those fans responded to Prince with voices and record purchases which shouted: “Do you! ” And that is exactly what he did. Prince did Prince – and took us all along for the wonderful ride, and we loved it. And, amazingly, as time moved on, the children and grand children and even great-grandchildren of his first fans were added to his fan base – an artist whose reach actually did span generations.
Although we thought that we knew him – stories are now resurfacing about his beautiful and unselfish generosity. Clearly he did not do the things which he did for the approval of others: paying medical bills for those in need, providing financial support for the family of Lauryn Hill family when she went to jail; reaching out to Van Jones when no one would talk to him; financing Malcolm X for Spike Lee – proving what his fans knew, intuitively, all along: that he had a good heart and that he was kind, caring and wonderful person.
His fans watched his life – and were happy when he was happy and sad when he was sad. The loss of his child was such a private thing – and it is something which no parent ever gets over. But he suffered in silence – not addressing it publicly. And more recently, the death of Vanity – also suffering in silence. And his silence as to his personal suffering said even more about him – no public pity party for Prince.
Although some were critical of his determination to keep his music off of youtube – only now are we learning that it was not about selfishness at all – but his perfectionism. He could not stand the thought of his music being played via inferior quality such as the grainy videos now surfacing online. And he was very particular about his lyrics being written – but only because so often they were incorrect. During an interview with Tavis Smiley – he referenced a time when his lyrics to the famous opening line of When Doves Cry “Dig if you will, a picture, you and I engaged in a kiss” as having been written by someone as”Dig if you will a picture, me Marvin Gaye and the kids” or another person he knew who thought the words ‘little red corvette’ were: “pay the rent collect” and when he told these stories, even the crew on the Smiley set could be heard laughing in the background. So he was actually protecting his lyrics – not in a selfish way – but in an artistic way. No one would dare view a Micheal Angelo painting and have the audacity to take a brush with paint and add to it – well Prince felt the same about his music.
As this world moves forward without him in it, we are left not only with music, but happy and exciting memories. The shows and performances which could only be described as “lightning in a bottle” with music flowing from his entire being. Prince did not just create music. Prince did not just perform music. Prince did not just ‘do’ music. Prince was music. And many will now spend their time in the “wreka stow” looking for that music. He will be so very,very much missed by family,friends and fans.
Rest in the peace within which you lived Prince.
“We only wanted to see you laughing.”