Death is DUMB Volume 6: PRINCE and the EVOLUTION
MUSIC is not a GENRE - Season 3 Episode #36
ALL ABOUT IT
FEATURED MUSIC: REC – Syncopy for the Weird
When we find an artist we can’t live without, our emotions attach in ways that are different from everyone else. We might all share favorite songs or qualities or the overall passion, but each of us finds miniscule facets that no one else can feel. Our overall relationship with that artist is unique. This is as true for obscure artists as it is for wildly famous and legendary ones.
Which all goes to say I’m not going to presume to explain Prince for you. I’m not going to run through his history in every detail, or make some grand pronouncement or conclusion about what he meant to the music world and society on the whole. I’m going to talk about me. About my relationship with Prince – what he meant to me, what he did for me, and what he’ll keep doing until I’m as dead as he is.
I grew up Catholic. I learned shame & guilt & fear. I also learned passion & faith & love. It’s all in the religion, as it is in life. When I first heard Prince, I was struggling with adolescence, with sexuality, with belief. I was trying to put all the pieces together that society & my upbringing said didn’t fit. But Prince knew they did fit. He knew they could coexist despite the world – the western world – the western Judeo-Christian Puritanical world – telling us you had to choose. It was a revelation to me that someone else felt these things could go together, and it changed me.
But only on the inside. It took years – decades – for me to get to a place where I could reconcile all parts of myself without shame or fear or guilt or rebellion. And all that time, one of the very few refuges in which I felt safe & whole & understood was in Prince’s world. Make no mistake – an artist like Prince doesn’t just make music, he creates a world, and then populates it with art & sound & character & a belief system & everything else a world contains.
So when it came time for me to express myself – first as an artist and much later as a full manifestation of my true nature, it was Prince among very few others who showed me the way. His music yes. Also his humanity. His juxtaposition of mystery & honesty. His melding of the sacred & the profane. His uncompromising vision & bravery. His struggle & his joy. Every step of the way I listened & watched & absorbed. I wondered & hoped, found answers & more questions.
I felt catharsis & yes even disappointment – because he wasn’t mine, wasn’t me, couldn’t ever be exactly what I wanted. But the more Prince he was, the more he shed his artifice to reveal one more layer, the more I loved & respected him. We saw him approaching a period of quiet calm, stripped bare of all but the essentials. We saw him getting to a place where all that had come before was being reconciled and shaped into the white dwarf of Prince’s ultimate truth.
Then it all collapsed. We’re living in the black hole now – full of the same energy but hiding the light that once was. We have no idea what would have happened next. He might have re-expanded, gone in a completely different direction. He might have revisited his past or surprised us with some as yet unknown facet (as if there could possibly have been another one). I hoped in these last 20 years that rumors of him forming a power trio would come true, so I could hear him rock out raw like we rarely heard him do on record.
And that’s where it all stands. No answers. Only the past. And the best of everything he ever had to offer. He never held back. Never moved in any direction but forward. It’s the only way we can all go. So now it’s up to me to continue to love what he did, to find joy in it, despite it all ending way too soon. It sucks. But it would suck way more if none of it ever happened.
Nothing I do doesn’t somehow have Prince in its DNA. Listen to everything. Start here:
REC – Syncopy for the Weird
You tell me what questions you have. You tell me what relationship you had with Prince. It could be none of the above resonates with you. It could be I totally missed what you feel about him and his music. So tell me. Discuss dammit!