Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dearly Beloved

Prince's first concert ticket, public domain/fair use, Wikipedia, full cite below in the sources.

Greetings All:

The big and tragic news story from this week is the passing of the musician Prince.  Born Prince Rogers Nelson, he blew up the music scene, first in Minneapolis and then the music world.  President Obama called Prince a "creative icon" and there have been countless tributes pouring in about the man and his music.  I've got a few stories posted in the sources about him.  The photo that follows below is from a web posting of an interview with Paul Westerberg.  Westerberg was part of the music scene in the early 80s in Minneapolis and knew of Prince.  It's worth a listen. 

My favorite tribute is from Bob Mould.  Mould also hails from Minneapolis and is arguably my favorite artist.  I love the fact his star is right by Prince's in the photo below.  Here's how Mould concluded his eulogy for Prince:

"Make no mistake: Prince was the brightest star in these Northern skies. My deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fellow musicians. Prince’s music will give consolation and comfort to the collective grief. Godspeed."

The First Avenue "Wall of Fame," fair use claimed, full cite below in sources.

I cannot say I am a huge Prince fan.  I did like a number of his songs, especially "Let's Go Crazy."  The second to last credit in the sources is a link to his amazing halftime show at the 2007 Super Bowl.  It's making the rounds on Facebook (along with a number of heartfelt tributes to Prince) and it is terrific to watch.  He opens with, what else?  (I won't tell you, you'll have to watch it for yourself.  :))

I had forgotten how hard it had rained at that Superbowl.  When the producers told Prince it was raining, he asked,  "Can you make it rain harder?"  

Other artists would have demanded changes to the show or scrapped it all together.  Not Prince, not this artist who played and sang thru the rain...and used FOUR electric guitars.  Rock on.

Prince was a complicated man.  His music caused outrage to some.  One may recall Tipper Gore's visceral reaction to "Darling Nikki."  For others, he was a source of liberation.  He did not just push the envelope, he shredded it.  

He also was a tenacious fighter for what mattered to him.  He went to war with Warner Bros, his label.  It took almost two decades for the two to make up and make music together again.  When they did, he made sure he got his catalog of songs back.

He also had a  deeply spiritual side.  This he kept to himself.  Some would say he was a hypocrite.  I would say he was exercising his right to practice his religion as he sought fit.  I understand he gave generously to many causes and did so privately.  Again, that was his choice.

Here's my best Prince song memory.

In 1984, I was riding in my friend's Camaro and he had the auto-reverse tape deck, a huge deal back then.  "Purple Rain" was the last song on side two.  My friend, I.D., posted this photo of the cassette and I thank him for allowing me to share it here on my blog.

The cassette version of Prince's epic album Purple Rain.  Photo used by permission.
So we're driving along and "Purple Rain" ends.  The tape flips over and "Let's Go Crazy" begins with Prince's voice over what I think is a keyboard mimicking a church organ.  

He begins:

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to get through this thing call life..."

This goes on for a few minutes before the music starts.  A crash of percussion, a keyboard creating an impossible to stop head bopping and the slashing guitar chords, all mixed together is an incredible song.  

Meanwhile, we're in the Camaro, flying down the road.  This was no baby V6 engine, dear readers.  No, my friends, this was the V8 and it roared in approval to the music, the RPMs climbing and falling as the engine shifted, akin to a gyrating dance floor.

I don't know why I remember this, yet I do.  Perhaps it was something about being young and the magic of Friday nights.  Or maybe it was about being in a car I admired, coveted even.  Well, I'll stop now as this is getting way too deep for a Saturday morning.  I still like the song and am sorry the artist who gave it to us cannot perform it live ever again.

As Prince wraps up the monologue of "Let's Go Crazy," he offers this advice:

"If the elevator of life tries to bring you down, 
Go crazy, punch a higher floor."

Something tells me Prince has reached that higher floor.  

Be well my friends,


Opening photo: 

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