At least, that was the general consensus on the Internets.
I mean, throw a dart at any year and you will come up with a long list of musical notables who had stopped refusing to die. But 2016, for some reason, seemed particularly heinous.
David Bowie (January 10). Glenn Frey (January 18). Paul Kantner (January 28). Maurice White (Feb. 4). Vanity (Feb. 15). Keith Emerson (March 10). Merle Haggard (April 6). Jimmie Van Zant (April 7). Leon Russell (Nov. 13).
But for me, it didn’t get any worse than April 21. (Or so I thought, but that’s a different story…) Respect to every other musical mind we lost in 2016, but in April 2016, it just went from bad to worse. To the worst. The worst.
I was at work. I emptied myself into the hallway to stretch my legs and view social media. There was this weird news story on my phone about them finding a body at Paisley Park.
Calm down, says me to myself. They didn’t say it was him. Yet.
Four minutes later they’re saying it was him. It was him. It was him.
Prince Rogers Nelson had stopped refusing to die at age 57. It was not the most devastating loss I would face to Grim the Reaper in 2016. But it sure felt like it was.
As I left the office, I told my boss I was “going to go home and watch Purple Rain.” And I did. Twice. And several times after that. And once when it played at the Little Theater. I even watched Graffiti Bridge.
Man, he made horrible films.
But, so did Elvis. And Elvis was still Elvis.
Except for me.
Prince was my Elvis.
I was thinking of about when Prince came into my conciousness. I think I kept seeing the “Controversy” album for sale via some record club I was in. Then I think I heard “Delerious” on the radio one morning. Then there was the video for “1999.” Then I ended up with the 1999 album via another record club. And I didn’t listen to it for a while. And then when I did listen to it, really listened to it, I was blown away by the attention to detail. To the chiming clock and the flute orchestration during “Lady Cab Driver.” To the weird whirring baseline during “All The Critics Love U (In New York).” To the weird inneuendo in “Little Red Corvette.”
(Shortly after his death I could not help but joke:
“Little Red Corvette
This song is not actually about a car
Little Red Corvette
This song is about sexual intercourse actually.”
–Prince’s original draft
Everything. In total. About the album 1999 is great. Still is. That’s the lovely thing about it. It still stands up. Solidly. Even now, 17 years after the arrival of the title’s indicated year.
Yeah, I mean at 1999, I thought I was fairly hooked on Prince and probably had by that time even bought Controversy.
I could not have prepared myself at that time for Purple Rain.
Welcome to Zappadan. It’s purple.