It was dirty. It was sexy. You knew you had to hide it from your parents. He was deliciously weird and beautiful. His talent was desperate and compelling. His music formed bonds as we shared it between ourselves, sought out rare B-sides and the legendary and almost mythical Black Album. We listened to “Darling Nikki” on our Walkmans through headphones with a double jack, scandalized and delighted.
Prince died today, and every time I hear even a snippet of his music, I become the person I was when I first listened to that song or album, and I fall apart.
His music is the punctuation for my life story.
For the life stories of so many of us. We played “Gett Off” while we were getting ready to go out, dancing around the apartment. We belted out “U Got the Look” when we were driving. We did the finger motions for “I Would Die 4 U.” We doodled on our notebooks, spelling with 4s, 2s, and Us, pinned “Rude Boy” buttons to our jackets, and wished we could pull off heels like he did.
His songs are themselves and they are the memories they evoke in us. He was positive and strange and his music is filled with joy and love, humor and social commentary. It’s times like this I wish I believed in an afterlife, because then I could say there’s an other-world where David Bowie and Prince are exchanging fashion, riffing on lyrics, and jamming until dawn.