And together we’ll love through all
Space and time, so don’t cry
I’ve finally reached a place where I am somewhat comfortable enough to write down what I am feeling and have been feeling since April 21. April 21 – the day we lost Prince Rogers Nelson. Just typing that feels wrong. I am still in a state of denial. But Prince can’t die – dying is what regular people do, and Prince is above that – otherworldly. No matter what I write here, it will be an injustice to who he was, what he stood for, and what he meant to me and millions of others. I search for words to make sense of something that feels so senseless.
I spent Thursday at work fighting back the tears. I wasn’t able to listen to his music. I felt numb, dazed and lost. We don’t think about the physicality of grief – the heaviness, headaches, and the inability to focus on anything. I had just been in the same room with him last month. Piano and a Microphone had changed my life – how could he be gone?
Then came the moment I started my car. Diamonds and Pearls. I felt the immediate wave of tears come tumbling down my face. They wouldn’t stop. Since then I’ve been a mess of tears and sadness, yet also joy and happiness while dancing and singing at the top of my lungs – just so damn thankful for everything he gave me – gave all of us. It may sound silly for non-Prince fans, how can you feel this way about someone you never knew? But I just do. That’s the effect Prince had on me. I’ve spent the past few days thinking about what he means to me, yet I still don’t think I can quantify it.
I grew up in a deeply religious and conservative home. One where forget talking about sex, I couldn’t even mention having a friend that was a boy. I think we’ve all experience some form of pressure to be a certain way. I found myself afraid to be fully me for fear of what others may think. Prince liberated me – he made me feel free in the most beautiful way. I had never seen a person so unabashedly, authentically and genuinely himself. Everything about him – music, style, demeanor – drew me in. None of it felt forced – this was a person being exactly who he was and didn’t give a damn what anybody thought. I don’t live in a prison, and I’m not afraid of anything, was the first thing he said in hist first television interview with MTV. He didn’t fit in a neat little box and lived well beyond labels. He made it okay to be me in every sense of the word.
Through his creativity, I felt free to be creative. To write things I may have never otherwise. He empowered me. The way the stories unfold in his songs is unparalleled. For a young writer daring to be herself, it gave me creative inspiration to let my words run free.
He made it okay to be spiritual but also revel in your sexual pleasure. Spirituality and sexuality weren’t separate entities. I was so attracted to this man who defied the ridiculous rules of gender conformity. I often exclaimed that I wanted to be Sheila E when I grew up, not just because she was with him, but also because the women he collaborated with were always so secure in their sexuality and fiercely independent. Like Frank Ocean so eloquently wrote in his tribute: He was a straight black man who played his first televised set in bikini bottoms and knee-high heeled boots, epic. He made me feel more comfortable with how I identify sexually simply by his display of freedom from and irreverence for obviously archaic ideas like gender conformity.
The music, oh the music. I wrote about what meant to me for a paper when I was in undergrad (which I just found a few weeks ago), yet a million think pieces in the world couldn’t explain what his music brought to the world. Maestro, genius, innovator, visionary, excellence. There are just too many songs to list here and like most Prince fans I can’t name a favorite because we’d be here forever. His music strips you down to the core of yourself, but it’s even more than that. Like Anil Dash tweeted: For most of us that take Prince’s work very seriously, it’s a lens on the _rest_ of culture. A filter for understanding other music & art… I think the “magical music elf” image of Prince (that he sometimes contributed to) undersells just how *important* he was. If you look at the last 30 years of pop music, you will hear Prince’s sound at the top of the charts, either by his own work or others’.
Then there’s his fight for artist rights. Challenging the absurd notion that record labels owned what an artist creates. After all he fought for, it is reassuring to know that he died owning all of the masters of his work. He won. That coupled with his numerous secret charitable donations to the Black Lives Matter movement, the Western Branch Library (the first full-service library for African Americans in country), saving it from being shut down, and Trayvon Martin’s family just to name a few, that are now coming to light reveal a small fraction of how much he meant beyond the music.
It still feels odd even to talk about him in the past tense. I can’t let go. The beauty of his music is that it is permanent. The cheesy line is real – the legacy of his life and music will live with us forever. I lived my entire life with his music and will allow his musical energy to continue to live on through me. He made and still makes me unafraid. I feel free to be myself. I could care less what others think of me. I am motivated to be the best version of myself. Prince has given me freedom. The little 9-year-old girl who was enamored with the 30-year-old woman today thanks to him from the depths of my soul for all that he created, and the inspiration he has given to me. So with this, I say, Prince, Eye Love U 4 Ever and Always.
Sometimes I feel so bad
Sometimes, sometimes I wish that life was never ending,
And all good things, they say, never lastI often dream of heaven and I know that Tracy’s there
I know that he has found another friend
Maybe he’s found the answer to all the April snow
Maybe one day I’ll see my Tracy again