Words. They frame meaning. They help us get through things. They give us ways to express thoughts and feelings.
Today I woke up in a foul mood for no particular reason. Then I discovered my beloved Prince had died at the age of 57 (thanks, Facebook. You really are good at sharing these things).
Prince gave me words at a time when I didn’t have any. Growing up as a teenager in the South, I would listen to his music with my best friend as we got ready for parties or whilst cruising the strip. His lead title Purple Rain flowed through me, giving me solace and a place to go in my head when I was confused or felt alone. That song still reminds me of the smell of fried chicken and Coke-sweetened Jack. I can sense the upholstered car seat of the guy whose class ring I liked and the slight odor of mildew streaming from the air conditioning vents.
When my daughter was born in 1999, I cheered because I felt — in some small way — I had given tribute to Prince. His song 1999 always made me smile. It felt like a particularly fine accomplishment to have spent that year on such a special occasion as the birth of my first child.
Prince was an icon, a masterful musician and a symbol for me as an awkward adolescent that it’s okay to express yourself in strange ways. He influenced my writing, granting me the courage to be different and to live my art as he did his. For a short time, he even changed his name to a symbol during an argument with his record label Warner Brothers. He did what he wanted. He lived his life through music. He was music.
His personal bank account of time ran out yesterday at 10:07 am Minneapolis time on April 21, 2016. There are more than just doves crying today.
Farewell, my Prince. May you party with the angels like it’s 1999. I will miss you until the end of my days.