The prints he's left on the souls of most in this generation are immeasurable, and so I'm taking the time this morning to script what I am thinking. This isn't a Curt-Cobain-Oh-My-World-Is-Ending occasion nor is it a moment, like 9/11, when everything simply needed to stop. Rather, for me, Prince was childhood...a transition into the impishness of adolescence...and a musical companion through most of my adulthood. He simply was one of a kind and, I admit, I might at some point in my life accruie all the knowledge I can find about him. His influence is of the Gods.
Although Cynderballz and I bought Casey the Purple Rain album for her birthday (actually, it was this album, a Jack Wagner album, and Cindy Lauper, I believe - because we wanted them), it was Peter Boy who hooked me on Let's Go Crazy and The Beautiful Ones. His older sister, Elaine, was a student at SUNY Oswego and Mama Stephanie invited me to ride with them to visit their middle child daughter where Pete and I sat in the back seat. He had the cassette and we pulled out the flaps to read all the lyrics while we listened to the music from his foam-covered ear buds that were popular at the time from Walkmans. We had the volume up loud enough to follow along, but not where his mom - the driver - could hear what he was singing. A Catholic school teacher, we knew she would scold that Darling Nikki was probably not appropriate for middle school kids.
Oh, but that is why we loved it.
It's Okay To Be Outside of the Box
Prince was weird. He transcended boundaries of Blackness, Maleness, Music-ship, Sexuality, and Predictability. Pete and I watched the film several times (when we could get away with it) and I'm unsure if I knew what the movie was really about. I just loved his cockiness, his assuredness, and the damn music. It became a cadence for my high school and college life. Who changes a radio station when a Prince song comes on? No one. Prince is part of the American fabric, and his individuality could not be owned by the labels, cultural groups, and politics of any time. He was who he was and in the back of my mind I always awaited the next Prince shenanigan and wondered how a dude like him could come out of Minnesota. Minnesota? That state needs to make Prince's image their national flag.
The Y-2K scare was real and everyone was paranoid about the end of the world. Up until that year, we were all ready to party like it was 1999 and it seemed so far away - but for the class of 1990, it meant a decade away from high school. I was living in Louisville at the time and in my 2nd year of teaching. I got together with friends and somehow we ended up in a field of Indiana, caught between alleged parties and possible ways to party like we planned to in 1999, so when the New Year came around we were in a car bitching at one another at what an awful 1999 New Year it was. It was buzzkill to the nth degree and, a moment from my history, when I stopped to think, "Really, Crandall. Are these the people you planned on being with in 1999?" They weren't, and I began to transition my world with the maturity of working professionals. It wasn't the last of my youth, but I remembered being bummed by the moment. Then, whenever I heard the song afterwards, I was like, "Now what are we suppose to party like?"
I will always associate Prince with Nadia Craft, class of 1998. She was a tremendous fan and, with an equal passion for Stevie Wonder, she always kept me up to date with the whereabouts of the music. In fact, some time in the 2000s, when she moved to Los Angeles and saw Prince was performing at Staples Arena, she called to say, "Crandall, you need to come with me." I flew out west - one of the few trips I've ever taken for personal reasons - and stayed in Nadia's apartment before the big event. I laughed, because Nadia went all out for the concert. She got her hair did, had an incredible outfit on that was rather risqué for her (with the largest purple sequenced flower I've ever seen), and even sported heels. Usually, Nadia was in a football jersey or a UK Basketball t-shirt. She was decked out for Prince.
And our seats were in the nosebleeds. The tickets were expensive, but we literally were in the last seat, against the wall, in the furthest corner from the stage. It was something. But we were there. We saw Prince. That was my one and only time. She remained fanatical, and even yesterday when he passed - on her birthday of all dates - we were in contact. Actually...this is creepy. We were texting about her birthday when I saw the news and we both reacted together.
The Great Whatever right there.
I could post songs and make crazy connections, but that time is not for today. Instead, I'm thinking of the frames designed by Coco and Breezy - 3rd Lens - that I saw them wearing at an event with artist Gordon Skinner and reminiscing that I always wanted to get a pair.
A 3rd eye. That was Prince. His perspective transcended the normal way of looking at the world and, for that, he remained the artist that he was. That is the eye I aspire to nurture and maintain the way I do this life thang. Beyond the box, there are other ways of knowing, being, viewing, creating, reflecting, and understanding the world.
These, the prints left on me.