I don’t remember the first time I saw him. I don’t remember the first song I heard. I do remember the music, the electricity he inspired, and the movie that took me somewhere I had never before considered going. I sat in the theater that night as the lights went down and the first keys of Let’s Go Crazy began to play. I was 15 years old, full of hormones and uncertainty, and this symbol of raw sexuality appeared on the screen in a haze of smoke and purple light. He licked his full lips. I was drawn in by his beautiful, soulful eyes. And then he started rocking this iconic song that would mark the music world forever, gyrating his hips and oozing desire. I fell immediately, and completely, in love.
Apollonia would intrigue me as well, how she captured his attention from across a crowded First Avenue. She was beautiful, sexy, and voluptuous. Prince appeared, and slipped his famous sunglasses on and stood mysteriously behind her. I wanted to be the woman standing in front of him. I was never jealous of her, only wanted to copy her style. I wanted to be that girl on the back of his motorcycle. When he put his hands on her in his bedroom and kissed her in that gently hungry way, the heat of him palpable through the screen, I had never wanted to be someone else more in my entire young life. For two hours I was captivated by this gorgeous man – he was playful with innocent naughtiness; he was intense in his gaze and in his aura, and he inspired a warmth deep in me that I didn’t want to stop feeling. He awakened my sexuality. And, as I grew older, I sought out guys whose voices were soft and deep, who were quiet and possibly mysterious.
Months later I paid $90 – what seemed an awful lot of money for a concert in 1984 – to attend the Purple Rain concert with one of my best friends. We sat in ninth row, on the floor. I can’t find the right words to describe this experience – much the same way one cannot find adequate words to describe the man who transcends definition – he was this close to us and it was astonishing how much larger than life he really was. I was in the same room with this man who would die for Me. It would not have been quite so electric for me, had I been seated any further away. I could see his lips move, those boots, and his eyes, which I swore made contact with mine. My young Gemini self had yet to learn the fine art of the Gemini male – particularly the Purple One – and his ability to make each and every person in his orbit feel like they are the Only One.
I have grown up a lot since then, when his movie poster hung on my wall and dozens of silk flowers hung from my ceiling. I have a decent collection of his vinyl. I now have many more digital albums. I’m remarried – to the boy he would never know he introduced me to in the days following that concert. In many ways, I see him as the force behind what began between us long ago.
He was surely a force to be reckoned with. He never fit into anyone’s box. He fought for creative autonomy – isn’t that what we all want and deserve? Perhaps I was raised this way, but I never saw him as any other color but Purple. He crossed racial lines, gender lines, and sexual lines. I always felt like he was mine. I felt a personal connection to him that I didn’t believe anyone else could possibly feel. And this – my friends – is the gift he had. And, believe it or not, yesterday was the first time in the 32 years I have loved him that I realized it. I listened to Sirius radio as the tears slid down my cheeks, as person after person called in and shared their own personal attachments to him. He had this ability to touch millions, all while making each of them feel like that one in a million.
I have a handful of friends I bantered with on Facebook over him. I never realized how many people really knew how much I loved him. Until yesterday. Several posts to my wall from friends who “immediately thought of [me]” when the news broke. And text messages too. Even my ex husband (who rarely supported any of my interests) texted me about it. I got to deliver the news to Todd – who had been in a day-long meeting. He didn’t believe me. It’s a hoax.
Unfortunately for me – and us all – it’s not. Prince Rodgers Nelson passed away tragically yesterday morning. The Purple One has gone silent, and my heart is broken. And filled with regret. I missed a concert my mom invited me to back in 2004, (um, I believe this time it was 3rd row) because my ex wouldn’t let me go. I didn’t go to the last minute concert he threw in Baltimore in the weeks following the riots. And, as crazy as it sounds, I will never, ever get to meet him. I was thinking about starting another blog about my efforts to reach him and meet him – if only for 5 minutes, so that I could look into his eyes and know that he saw me. Yeah, I’m crazy. But I thought it would be fun anyway. I guess I have a way better chance of meeting him on the other side anyway. Less security, I imagine.
Todd said to continue to celebrate life and listen to his music – a catalogue unmatched by any other musician I can readily think of. Those who don’t know – he has a vault inside his Paisley Park compound filled with unreleased, never-before-heard music. I can only wish that whoever was blessed with the awesome responsibility for his estate will consider releasing some of it posthumously. For each and every one of us whom he personally sang to.
Good night, Prince.
It’s been so lonely without you here… like a bird without a song. Nothing can take away these blues, because Nothing Compares 2 U.