The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Friday, 22 April 2016

When Doves Cry

This probably isn't going to be a very coherent post, but the need to express something is important to help me understand what is happening.

When artists, legends, who have been part of every single moment of your life, start to die - or rather ascend to another astral plane - it reminds one horribly of one's own mortality, the brevity of a person's existence in this world. And it is crushing. I am crushed.

To me, Prince, the Purple God, the Ultimate Diva, hasn't aged a minute. He remains ever youthful, irreverent, insanely accomplished, sweeping through the arrogance of award ceremonies and AR executives with a flick of perfectly coiffured hair, an arched brow and a curled lip. It doesn't make sense that he can die.

This is the man who taught me about sex. I know - totally inappropriate, but that's how I discovered him. He conquered my body before he conquered my mind. I remember that my cousin was obsessed with him. She had posters all over her room of Prince and that enigmatic symbol of his. Prince - whilst acknowledged in my family home as a musical virtuoso - was on the naughty side. The very naughty side. I didn't get why, until my cousin showed me the Purple Rain album. That voice, those rifts, the beat smoked through me and I inhaled every molecule.

Then came the biggest film of the year - Batman - and Prince was all over it. Crazy, sexy, cool as the other side of the pillow. I knew the words to every track Prince wrote, not just because everyone else did, but because that music made me mooooove. Funking up my life was nothing compared to what he did next.

Gett Off. Diamonds and Pearls. Cream. Money Don't Matter Tonight. For that to coincide with my entering puberty, was nothing short of a divine intervention. There was this eyeliner wearing, lipgloss pouting, jeri-curled hair, stubbled, ruffle loving, lycra adoring, short, pert arsed black man, telling me that sex wasn't at all what they told you in church. That it was something to be enjoyed, worshipped, adored, embraced and honoured. That I shouldn't be ashamed of my blooming curves (and my God did I bloom and bloom early) but revel that it was heck-a-slammin'. While Madonna found herself on the side of my parents's disapproval with her cone bras and her pelvic thrusts, Prince was the soundtrack to my sexual discovery and understanding. He was quietly mine while I tried to figure out how you really do get to 23 positions in a one night stand. What more could you want as a teenager surrounded by other hormonal girls?

All the "Prince is so gay" nonsense. Because he liked a nice blouse? Or because he was pretty as hell? Or because people knew if he was inclined, he'd have a girl on her back with a gentle breath to the back of her neck? If he was, it wouldn't have mattered, because he absolutely challenged perception of how black men "should be" or what black people "should like" musically, fashionably, in life. He lived his without barriers, without contention, for himself. A lot of babies in the 80s wouldn't have been born without Prince. A lot of babies in the 90s wouldn't have been born without Prince. Damn. That man is responsible for a country's worth of babies...

I'm pretty devastated by this new blow. I've barely accepted that David Bowie's dead. Barely. And now this. Prince didn't even reach 60. I thought he'd outlast all of us, cooling himself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka, I thought he'd be playing gigs until four am, trying even the most hardcore of fans to stay the distance. I thought he'd be ninety, slinging a guitar over his neck and getting out his pick on stage for the newest artist, or quietly supporting causes behind the scenes and without a single fuck telling folks about themselves. I am wrong. And I've never wanted to be more right about something.

What do we do with this vacuum that Prince has left in his wake? Let's not reduce him to one single thing, particularly his ability to cast a forest of shade in his later years. But let's instead celebrate his immeasurable talent. To be able to play 27 instruments, write, sing and produce your own music, is a God given gift. To have all those accolades and awards, and still want to go and play to fans, to surprise fans, to keep writing, is more than a legacy. It's like being cast in the stars. Enduring until the end of the universe. As my friend said last night, Prince has not died. He's just transformed.

"We could all die any day. But before I let that happen, I'll dance my life away."

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