I was on a plane to Boston when I found out about Prince’s death. I connected to the $30 wi-fi and my Twitter timeline was going nuts. Of course I didn’t want to believe it. I grew up with Prince. I was with him for every era of his career. Or I should say he was with me. Well, at least when they started playing his music on MTV.
I was 30,000 feet in the air and felt stuck. As if there was anyone I could call anyway. I didn’t know him. I never met him. But his music spoke to me throughout my life, so there was most definitely a connection there.
Then the Associated Press confirmed it. Prince has died. It still doesn’t feel real. And I really haven’t wanted to write anything music-related since the news broke. Just a few weeks ago, when I was in Denver, “Kiss” came on the radio and my 14-year old daughter started asking about him.
“This is Prince, right?”
“Can you turn it up?”
After the song ended I threw on my Prince playlist from my phone (which features a couple hundred songs) and we had a little jam session, talking about the different eras of Prince, the Prince vs. Michael Jackson debates, and how Prince chose to be himself for his whole career despite what anyone said or thought about him.
He couldn’t be dead; I was just talking to her about him! I was about to go to his party after the whole emergency landing in Illinois thing. His death wasn’t supposed to be so sudden. It was supposed to happen like 30 years from now and it’d be a gradual process of getting old, after he’d retire from music, and pretty much had nothing else to give. Yes, this is all very selfish of me, but I don’t care.
I was just a kid when I first saw “Little Red Corvette” come on MTV, and I’ve pretty much been following him since then. That was 1983. I followed through the Purple Rain era, and the rest of the ‘80s. I wasn’t buying albums then, but I was paying attention. In high school we had our dance routines to “Gett Off” and even though my friends and I thought Prince wasn’t a very good rapper, we had no problem quoting the chorus to “Sexy M.F.” to girls we liked. Although I bought Prince singles (or cassingles) during my teenage years, the first real Prince album I bought was The Hits 3-disc set when it dropped in 1993. It blew me away on how much I missed. From then on I slowly went back and tried to get the early albums and then whatever new stuff he dropped. My parents were never into Prince (my dad actually removed MTV from our cable lineup because Prince was showing his booty at the MTV Awards), so I had to get stuff myself.
Luckily, while I was on the plane I was able to dive right into his catalogue. My laptop has a 1TB hard drive dedicated to just music and games. On that hard drive I have about 30-something Prince albums. There wasn’t a specific song or album I wanted to listen to so I just hit shuffle. The first song to come up? “Way Back Home” from Prince’s 2014 album Art Official Age.
How fitting, and it made me sad.
It’s a mid-tempo ballad that gives some insight on where Prince’s mind was at and what he truly wanted, a “way back home.” After his death, the song has an even deeper meaning now. Check it out:
I was recently playing Prince Interactive, a game that came out in 1994 that lets the player get to know more about Prince’s career up until that point. It has some little puzzles that people can solve to unlock videos, and music, and other special content. But there was one quote from Prince in the game that stuck with me.
“I make music because if I didn’t, I’d die. I record because it’s in my blood. I hear sounds all the time. It’s almost like a curse; to know you can always make something new.”
Prince made so much music. There’s no question that Prince’s popularity peak was in the ‘80s, especially around Purple Rain, but he’s made so much since then and I’m kind of disappointed that most folks are focusing on that era. We all love it when Prince performs “Let’s Go Crazy” or “When Doves Cry” live, but we should be excited for “The Marrying Kind” or “If Eye Was The Man in Ur Life” too. “Sticky Like Glue.” “Colonized Mind.” Who remembers “Eye Hate U”?
One of my favorite recent songs is “Anotherlove.”
Anyway, the point of this nonsensical rant is that Prince made so much music that’s available right now… more than 40 albums worth, that people haven’t checked for. So for folks to be asking for Prince’s music that he has in his multiple vaults, have you even checked for the stuff that’s already out there? I’m not saying everything is on the level of Purple Rain, but there are still plenty of gems. I mean, Musicology is a classic album. Anyway…
I’m still heartbroken. Rest in peace Prince Rogers Nelson, the greatest artist of my lifetime.