Just over a week ago, a phenomenal musician died. Prince was a weird dude and a bit of a contradiction. His music challenged social mores and expanded perspectives on sexuality and gender, which bumped up against his ultra-conservative religion. The artist, the art and the man. And he was a fucking amazing guitar player and performer. I’m not going to do another eulogy. I’m not even going to do a comprehensive retrospective of how he impacted my life. His music didn’t weave throughout my story the way Bowie’s did, but it did for other people. I wasn’t allowed to listen to Prince growing up (though I had one very cool teacher who loved Prince and U2). My first real connection to Prince was his album of music from and inspired by Tim Burton’s Batman. As much as my parents might have tried to keep me away from Prince, they couldn’t keep me away from Batman. I realized that Prince had been in the background on the radio for years, but I wasn’t exposed to his key cultural contributions until so much later–my first time watching Purple Rain was on VH1 in the mid-1990s for fuck’s sake. And while I enjoyed his music (especially 1999, When Dove’s Cry and the title track, Purple Rain) it wasn’t as integral to my high school self as the Seattle scene was, as Springsteen, as Bowie. Prince was awesome, but he didn’t feel like he was mine.
I’m lucky to live in the Twin Cities. One refrain that I’ve seen repeated in so many articles about Prince was that so many artists leave the place they are from, but Prince never left. There are other musicians that Minnesota claims, but they for the most part have departed and set up shop elsewhere. Prince stayed. He celebrated Minneapolis. He helped keep us weird and funky. So many towns claim the desire to keep themselves weird (Austin and Portland do a wonderful job maintaining their weirdness as well–this isn’t a competition, friends), but we do enjoy embracing contradictions. We elected a pro-wrestler as a governor (twice). This is a town where one of awesome rock clubs, The Turf Club, also has Sunday brunch. And over the course of a long weekend, First Ave and The Current (a public radio station that plays awesome music) hosted several all night dance parties in the club and on the street. It was so big that thousands of people couldn’t even get close–but they came anyway and stayed and danced and sang. This is why Minnesota mourns Prince, because his weird contradictions are ours.
This year has been pretty sucky in general. To make it about me again, because, well, this is my journal after all, I’ve been going through my own personal stuff–I’m a month away from an anniversary that I’m not too excited about. It still hurts, but at the same time I see a way forward. A way past. Feelings for someone else. It’s always possible that nothing will come of it. But there’s a possibility that something will. Regardless of the outcome, the fact that I want something to come of it, that’s enough. That lets me know that I’m at least starting to heal. Because honestly, thinking of her makes me happy and I’m thinking of her more than I’m thinking of B.
Purple is the color of royalty, it’s only natural, I suppose, that Prince adopted it for himself. It’s become the color of Minneapolis in particular and Minnesota. Purple is also the color of a bruise. The bruise that Prince’s death left us. That Merle Haggard’s death left. That Bowie’s death left us. This year, we lost people that created art that lifted us, transported us, spoke for us and brought us together. Less than a year ago, someone I loved broke my heart. My heart was left bruised, our collective hearts were bruised. But the purple of a bruise will disappear, it will fade. It will remain tender for a long while, but then that too will disappear. When that fades in the end, we will be left with the memory of everything good that came before that bruise. And we will smile. We will make art. We will find our community. And we will continue to live and love again.
More later …