Friday, April 22, 2016

Prince


I don't know how to address the death of Prince.

Usually when a celebrity dies, I can place them in a place where it makes sense. In most cases, of course, it's just a vague sense that a person I respected or admired died and the more general sadness that the their talent will not be providing new joy. In some cases, it's a weird mix of that and something like a distant, but much loved family member passed. That's not quite right, but I think it's as close as I'll get at this moment.

This feels like Dionysus has fallen from Olympus.

It's not reasonable. He was clearly human. He had a very human struggle with his record company. The struggle was flawed, and his reaction was awkward. It was the reaction of a person trying to feel with a situation he was deeply unhappy with, who didn't know a way to handle it any longer.

More importantly, the reason we respond to his music is essentially human. The beauty of "Purple Rain" is in how amazingly it captures a feeling we all recognize, a heartbreak we all empathize with. Even that amazing guitar solo isn't there as a mere show of his virtuosity, it captures and carries through the emotion of the song.



Not only that, he's a man of his place. Listen to Around the World in a Day, much praised at the time for its psychedelic sheen, but give songs like "Raspberry Beret" and "Paisley Park" a new listen. These are songs by someone from the midwest. It's not necessarily the way they tell us such simple tales in basic terms of Americana, but because they flow so naturally from his dream imagery.

And yet he managed to die in April, which will lead to a lifetime of these maudlin tributes, that will always naturally fit his own words, like it was ordained to be.



In the end, though, it comes down to how we all react and I realize it continues to be the humanity I react to.

He's been criticized a lot for he handled his own career after leaving the record company. Trying a variety of release methods and experimenting with a variety of musical styles and lyrical themes that didn't connect as well with much of his audience. Perhaps just a further demonstration of his humanity. I certainly hope in all of that he was able to find creative satisfaction for himself anyway. He certainly gave the rest of us as much beauty and creativity as we could ever hope for from one human.

Some part of me knows I should finish this up something to make everyone dance and remember the joy of Prince's music. A "Housequake", "Let's Go Crazy", "Anotherloverholenyohead" or the like. It feels like how it should finish up.

But this is the one that's stuck in my head. A man has left us. A man we are bettered to have shared with him while we had the chance.

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