My Darling Prince,
They say U're never supposed 2 outlive your children, but your recent death has felt like we all lost not only a father of funk, but a very youthful man-child, who, like Cher or Madonna, we always expected 2 outlive all of us. At just 57, you were gone 2 soon like Bowie, Whitney, Amy, Donna and Michael before. While those were shocking and tragic, each had clues B4hand, preparing us for eventual loss. Not since Elvis' death have I watched a nation of many generations work so hard to process celebrity grief. Why? Every Prince influence is like a snowflake ( in April ), so the only way to take this is personally.
I was a lost little boy hitting puberty and confused about everything, getting over his crush on Olivia Newton John and obsessing over Michael Jackson's Thriller. I'd had "I Wanna Be Your Lover" back when I was 9, and liked it. I was lukewarm on "1999" but was keen on "Little Red Corvette" and crazy about "Delirious," but not obsessed. Then, while I was waiting and waiting for new MJ material to fill my obsessive tendencies, "When Doves Cry" hit in the summer of 1984, just as I was going on a road trip with my family. I taped it off the 45 and listened 2 it and its b-side, "17 Days," on a loop that week and the minute Purple Rain hit Walmart, I was there. My dilemma: It was on shelves at the same time as Victory by The Jacksons. I saw my choices as "safe" vs. "dangerous." At 14, I loved safe, but something wooed me 2 the dark side 4 the first time. It was Prince. I did eventually buy both, but Purple Rain stole my heart and mind that day over those crazy Jacksons. What I got with Purple Rain ( besides the 2' x 3' poster over my bed and the best album I've ever heard and just about since ) was a window into real life. Not the imaginary Hollywood life Michael, Olivia, The Carpenters and Air Supply gave me up until then, and not the white-washed life MTV presented, but something outside my comfort zone that turned me from boy 2 man in 9 songs.
"Take Me With U," "Baby I'm a Star" and "Let's Go Crazy" gave me the pop bridge I needed, leading into the mournful melodrama of the title track and "The Beautiful Ones," both of which sparked my fire for future love of Depeche Mode, The Cure and The Smiths with their sadness; but most importantly, "When Doves Cry," "Darling Nikki," "Computer Blue" and "I Would Die 4U" challenged me. That day, I stepped out of the box my parents, family, friends and church had laid before me, and into a world with limitless possibilities in art, culture, profanity, pornography, love and God. And with later purchases of the back catalog, I saw a straight man ( like Bowie ), standing up and being sort of gender queer and gay-friendly and inclusive.
Now later, Prince, U found your spiritual path and, along the way, lost those who were different in the first place from you, both musically, sexually and ethically, stilting you with a smothering cocoon and not the wings of a dove on which you flew into our hearts and minds. But there hope was always that you'd come back to us all in time. U never did, and now we'll never know what could have been from a man still producing new songs constantly.
Your loss has taken away from us a friend, lover, father, mother, brother, sister, a god and a devil, but you've left us with one of the biggest legacies ( and vaults of unreleased material ) of any pop star in our lifetimes. A legacy of recorded music, but also of acceptance, magic, diversity, beauty and the belief that we can do anything. While U never did convince me your god was my god, give her a message from all of us anyway.
Prince, we love U and miss U, and thank U 4 your time on Earth. U were a cultural gift we can never repay. We hoped U'd live 2 see the Dawn, and Wish U Heaven, as U wished us.