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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Purple Diamonds & Broken Pearls

How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world so cold? (World so cold)
Maybe I'm just too demanding
Maybe I'm just like my father, too bold
Maybe you're just like my mother
She's never satisfied (She's never satisfied)
Why do we scream at each other
This is what it sounds like
When doves cryDream if you can a courtyard An Ocean of violets in bloom Animals strike curious poses They fell the heat the heat between me and you

Who would have thought when the new year came in that we would be saying farewell to one of the most Iconic figures in Music. No one could have prepared themselves for Prince to take his final bow. Yet the morning of April 21 2016 that's exactly what happened. No event that has happened this century rocked my world the way this one did. It wasn't just that his death was sudden and unexpected but Prince, in my mind, was Immortal. No need to ever worry about shedding a tear for him because he would outlive everyone. I imagined the end of the world and Prince with his guitar having never aged a minute would be playing 1999 as a super nova exploded and destroyed all that was left of earth. Even then he would rise above the chaos and ascend to whatever galaxy would hold life next.

I can't imagine anyone would have thought that their day would begin by saying goodbye to him. He was pivotal in life, music, love, sex and humanity. How could the universe handle such a loss? How could the universe re-balance itself after such a loss? Surely it would never test those waters so Prince would live forever. Unfortunately the universe did test those waters and we are left to wonder WHY? HOW? How can we live in a world where there is no Prince? How can we survive now with no one to speak our language? No one to champion our cause? No one to believe in our authentic self? HOW UNIVERSE? HOW?

How am I supposed to grasp the concept that my friend Prince Nelson will no longer provide the soundtrack of my life? That Hit N Run Phase Two will be the last album Prince would release? No more monumental performances, no more soul grabbing music, no more doves crying...just silence. So now all I am left with is purple diamonds and broken pearls.

Needless to say you have seen thousands of tributes to and about Prince over the last few days, as news of his passing continues to rock social media and the world. Everyone experienced Prince their own way so of course those of us who loved him would take to the proverbial pen to express our grief, anger and disbelief. There are several rants that simply serve the purpose of ranting; while others are putting non Prince enthusiast, who don’t understand our grief, in their places. There is the heartfelt unloading of all that Prince means to them in the hopes that others will eventually understand why this is such a devastating loss. Trying to explain to people why we take his passing so personal. Several scenarios come to mind but let me just say this; I remember the exact moment I found out Maurice White, Whitney, Michael Jackson, & Tupac passed away. There are moments you will never forget. I will never forget the moment when those despicable words that Prince had died grazed my ears. It was as if the sheer will to breath had been knocked out of me.

Prince Rogers Nelson was an innovator of a different kind. He didn’t just make great music that was before its time; he was more than an iconic musician; he was the epitome of showmanship, musicianship, creativity, inspiration and hard work. Prince was the platform for uniqueness, self awareness and self love. He showed those of us who weren't that “normal” was overrated and it was okay to just be whomever you wanted to be. He showed us that we could create what felt good to us. We didn’t have to be drones, clones and cookie cutter molds. We could create what was us and not apologize for it.

In the awkward days and years of my growing up, Prince was to me what Richard Pryor or Redd Foxx was to comedians. I would sneak my mothers albums and listen. She caught me once listening to “Jack U Off”. Needless to say she kept a closer eye on her “Controversy” album after that. It was too late tho I had been bitten by the strange androgynous figure who called himself Prince. At first thought I remember saying Prince suited him as a name. He looked mysterious like you would imagine a Prince would. Then I realized that Prince was a fitting name for other reasons. He was Regality. He had just the right touch of everything to make you say yeah HE IS PRINCE.
So here is my attempt to explain the inexplicable. Prince passing away for me is losing my friend. A friend who seemed to know me better than I knew myself. A friend that understood the place I was in and was able to articulate my feelings for me, while giving me a soundtrack of great music and advice. It doesn’t matter that Prince Nelson and I never met it was the spiritual vibrations of his music that connected to me and bonded me to him and his music. I believe that he knew that people felt that way about his music which is why it was so important that the "feeling" be authentic. So no I was not a Prince fan; I am a friend of Prince.

He spoke to me in so many ways through so many chords, riffs and baselines as well as lyrics. Crystal Ball is one of my favorite albums ever, its inexplicable what that album is. Dream Factory, So Dark, Crystal Ball (track), Sexual Suicide & Goodbye are just a few of my favorites off that album. The beginning of Crystal Ball makes you feel like you are on a 60’s acid trip the guitar riffs are insane but nevertheless the scope of his music is transcendent.  He was able to accomplish things musically that had never been attempted or accomplished and to date have not been paralleled.

My first heartbreak was set to the tune of So Dark. It was like he reached inside my heart and wrote this song. “Inside Looking Out my window….. I don’t see nothing but rain…. Sun up in the sky just a shinin… still Im lost in my shadow of pain….Like an innocent man that’s on death row….I don’t understand what made you go….and wanna leave me baby….leave me in the dark….can you tell me, tell me?” These were the words that scored my first break up, my first tears over a man and relationship. But how could Prince have known I needed them? Well because he was my friend he knew me and I knew him and he penned this song to help me express my pain.

So the morning that I found out he had passed away it was a crushing blow to my emotional state. I can’t explain how deeply profoundly my heart broke. I found myself faced with the realization for the first time that I would have to find a way to live in a world with no Prince Nelson. Something that I have no concept of. I was born in 1976 so Prince has been making professional music my entire life. From the time I could form a sentence Prince was forming chords. So when I was old enough to understand music Prince was one of the first whose music influenced me.

Do Me Baby and I wanna Be your Lover lined my childhood like newspapers and the 1999 (album) was the soundtrack to my adolescence. Little Red Corvette, Delirious, Free & Lady Cab Driver are among the songs that drove my secret Prince obsession. At a time when my mother didn’t allow me to listen to sexually suggestive music and an R rating on a movie meant that I couldn’t watch it. I found peace and solace between the funky riffs and intricate balance between notes in Princes’ music. He made melodies dance in a way that was impeccably creative.

Free was one of those songs that I inhaled deeply despite my pain and the lyrics are what allowed me to survive the pain that I carried everyday. “Don't sleep 'til the sunrise, listen 2 the falling rain…..Don't worry 'bout tomorrow, don't worry 'bout your pain…..Don't cry unless you're happy, don't smile unless you're blue….Never let that lonely monster take control of U” without those words I would have been lost. Free helped me find a core center to focus on when my sadness was overrunning my life. He spoke those words for me to give me hope to give me peace “Be glad that U r free….Free 2 change your mind…..Free 2 go most anywhere, anytime…..Be glad that U r free….” and despite the world on my shoulders I was free & Prince reminded me of that.

Then it happened Purple Rain came out and I learned that doves cry. The movie, which was used to showcase his music in my opinion was nothing short of brilliant. You can’t watch Purple Rain and not appreciate the complexity with which Prince told a true story. The story line about people not digging his music was absolutely true. Until Purple Rain his albums had not received the support and understanding that it deserved. So his showing the struggle to be accepted for his musical genius was brilliant, not to mention he showcased other talent that he wrote and produced for i.e. The Time  &  Apollonia 6 also highlighting Jill Jones which lets just be honest she is absolutely amazing. Purple Rain is when I learned to love and appreciate the color Purple. Its been my favorite color ever since. When Doves Cry, The Beautiful Ones, Computer Blue, Let’s Go Crazy, I Would Die 4 U and of course Purple Rain…actually you can’t even talk about Purple Rain the album without mentioning Take Me with U, Baby Im a star and Darling Nikki. The entire album is just classic for no reason.

When Doves Cry my second favorite song off of the Purple Rain Album “Dig if you will the picture….of you and I engaged in a kiss…..the sweat of your body covers me….can you my darling….can you picture this…..” I learned about lust and desire, but not just sexual desire the desire to have something inexplicably real and satisfying and whole. When Doves Cry showed me that sometimes we expect too much of love sometimes we need to  just “dream if you can a courtyard….an ocean of violets in bloom….animals strike curious poses….they feel the heat…..the heat between me and you….” Imagine what love could be and strive for it in the warmth and beauty of our own heat.

The infamous Love Triangle is what brought The Beautiful Ones to life. It is my favorite song from Purple Rain. Its that one song that is so beautiful and gentle yet powerful. Unlike Purple Rain Beautiful Ones spoke to a certain vulnerability putting yourself out there like hey “do you want him or do you want me cuz I want you” The possibility of rejection lingering in the air as an unanswered question. Luckily in the movie the question doesn’t go unanswered for long but in real life its not always a happy ending. “If I told you baby…That I was in love with you….Oh baby, baby, baby…..If we got married…..Would that be cool?…..You make me so confused…..The beautiful ones…..You always seem to lose” Prince knew this too, I think that's why he wrote this song to emphasis to me that sometimes you are just gonna lose, but not without putting forth my best plea for their love.

I inhaled Prince; took in every stroke of his genius. I allowed his essence to reverb within my chakras. He resonated deeply in the recesses of my soul like no other artist has ever been able to do. I did not just appreciate his music I drank it in like fresh air. I found that I didn’t need to know much about his personal life long as I had his music because with his music I knew him. He poured his soul into his music every bar, every refrain, every stanza was another piece of him. He showed us his true self within bars and hooks and bridges.

Diamonds and Pearls is probably my most favorite album of all 39. Thunder, Cream, Get Off, Push, Insatiable, and Diamonds & Pearls my goodness they just take me to a place. In 1991 I was in a different place I remember that album helping me cope with life after a failed suicide attempt. It seemed like Thunder was a story from my diary. “Thunder-all thru the night….Promise to see Jesus in the morning light…..Take my hand, it’ll be alright c’mon save your soul tonight……Love-nobody know just how it was born…..Love- first came to me with the radio on….jumped up in my body with an attitude…..kissed me on the mouth and said your leader take me to.” What a profound thought. He spoke of something beautiful and spiritual and it was calming and inspiring.

Diamonds and Pearls was the song that I listened to the most. It was Prince’s ode to me that no matter what he would always be there. He would always write, play, sing for me. He knew that his love of music was the key to keeping himself honest. So He promised me that he would always be honest and he would never stray. “This will be the day….that you will hear me say….that I will never run away…..Am I the weaker man…..because I understand…..that love must be the master plan.” The beautiful nature of this song spoke to the longing I needed to have something real, something tangible. He gave it to me “If I gave you diamonds and pearls….would you be a happy boy or a girl….If I could I would give you the world…..All I can do is just offer you my love” He offered me his love and I accepted. I am forever grateful for that album and think I will always be.

Prince was not just a music Icon; he was my friend and anytime you lose a friend grieving is expected. I grieve Prince in sincerity and truth. Not the way someone grieves a celebrity but in the way someone grieves a person they were truly connected to. He touched and changed my life. I will never forget the mark that Prince Nelson left on my life he taught me it was okay to be myself to be different and unique but most importantly it was okay to love that uniqueness about myself.

So in the words of my dearly departed Friend: Dearly beloved We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life Electric word life It means forever and that's a mighty long time But I'm here to tell you There's something else The after world A world of never ending happiness You can always see the sun, day or night—Let’s Go Crazy Prince Nelson