A superfan tribute: why Prince's music stood for life
As we all know by now, as our social media feeds fill with sad notes and tributes, 2016 has taken anouther bright star to the sky today, a rare hypergiant star intact, Prince Rogers Nelson, just 57 years young.
"You'll always remember where you were when you heard this news", my Mum texted me early this morning, Australia time, along with tons of other friends concerned for my superfan wellbeing, blowing up my phone. I was already four hours ahead of her, en route to Coachella when someone in my van broke the news and I had already posted one of my favourite videos of him singing 'Do Me, Baby' back in 1982, with a tribute that said, "Passion. Power. Control. Love. Hedonism. Vulnerability. Happiness. Sensuality. Longing. Movement.... Prince's music stood for living, for the hot-headed fluttering and pounding of heartbeats and for chasing, seeking and being hungry for desire. The sheer output of creativity, influence and energy from this one man may never be matched. His myth definitely won't be. You don't need to be a superfan like me to recognise what a truly devastating loss this is." I've already mourned with waterworks several times.
By now, I have arrived at the desert festival, where, 8 years ago, Prince performed that chilling cover of Radiohead's "Creep". As I frantically type this into my phone, I am surrounded by musicians, roadies, festival staff and journalists, all music lovers, all with heavy hearts and all discussing how this weekend, the festival will no doubt be lit up by Prince's enormous aura once again, via tributes from just a smidge of the artists he influenced so much.
You see, Prince was a lot of things, he was Jamie Starr, The Purple One, The Kid, Christopher Tracy, The Love Symbol/The Artist Formally Known as Prince, Alexander Nevermind and well, he was a sexy motherf**ker. He was a spiritualist and an enigma. He was such a mystery, that it's so easy to forget he was even mortal. Most of all, as I mentioned earlier, Prince was a lover. Of life, of happiness, of hedonism and matters of the heart, soul and flesh, in the rawest of forms. He was an icon of self-control and of the loss of it. His music was made for living and with one handclap or bass slap or the orgasmic scream of his falsetto, could make you want to dance, f**k, cry and smile. If you were ever lucky enough to see him in all his glory, even well into his last days, the energy this man put out shook you to the core and could give you goosebumps in places you never thought possible.
Beyond the sheer bone-rattling beauty of this artist, is his myth, which will never, ever, ever be matched by anyone, I'm sure. Everybody has a favourite Prince story, be it the one about how he was at a show and had someone fetch him McDonalds fries, which he proceeded to eat standing up over everyone. Or the one about the basketball and pancakes told by Charlie Murphy on Chapelle's Show. Or how he talks in fantastic riddles (eg, "If a big snake gives birth to a little snake, what is that little snake going to grow up to be?" The answer: A big snake "You gotta know who your father is.") or even just the time when he joined Twitter. My favourite Prince story is one told by his ex-Paisley Park audio engineer, where, heartbroken, Prince entered the studio one night, as he did every night, to record a song. "I want go out tonight and meet someone new," he reportedly tells his dancer at the beginning of the session. Then, he starts playing every instrument, recording this beautiful, emotionally-weighted song, full of classic Prince crescendos, crashing and falling and rising and rolling. It was huge, she reported. Then, at the end of the session, the artist reportedly said "I'm not going out anymore." and promptly reached over the recording panel and erased the song.
For this man, music was life, it was his soul - THAT is the tell of a true artist, not their fame, not their hits, not how many followers they have. I've often wondered if we'll ever know the true extent of Prince's musical legacy, and perhaps, the silver lining of his devastating death is that, now we will, when his legendary Paisley Park vault, rumoured to house thousands of songs, is opened. If the legend is true - that, within this vault live enough songs to fill over 100 albums, Prince will live on forever, proving that indeed, the artist is immortal.
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