before anything – the pity of Prince’s death is enormous. rattling around in the Paisley Park compound, alone, disorientated, clothes on back to front/inside out. the delirium of the pain coursing through his body, seeking solace in capsules that had served him well thus far. punching a higher floor as the elevator brought him down. it’s scary to think of a human so alone, so close to death and to have no one. no one to hear his “rosebud”, no one to hear him claim to have had fun. it’s so desperately sad that there sat an army of thousands and a company of the few who would have held his hand but none were permitted. it’s an agony to see that his last public statement had been to save our prayers for a couple of days…it’s an agony to know that his last public appearance had been to hold up a guitar and say he couldn’t play it, he had other plans. it is such a personal tragedy. such a shame. such a loss.
Back to the beginning.
It is difficult to write about this man without losing me to my teenage self. As soon as I begin to try to engage with this subject my perspective becomes horribly skewed. I seem to only be able to see through the eyes of a 16 year old Welsh teenage boy from a backwater of Welsh working class vapidity, labour and toil. I’m robbed of vocabulary and distance. There is nothing but bias. Now we’ve got that out of the way…
Back to the beginning.
He had the answers. It was as simple as that. Going through the turmoil of adolescence and the mass of confusions, he appeared and was able to marry the sacred and the profane. I was never a fast developer. I was the baby of the family and the baby in so many ways. I can remember visiting a “girlfriend” when I was fifteen years old. I was only going up to see her at her house. I turned out in my Sunday best, dressed in the most formal, smartest clothes I owned. I was encouraged too. I thought it was the right thing to do. It was fucking stupid. Charming in a cockless, insipid, “nice” way but wholly inappropriate and out of place. An attitude from a different era. I looked foolish.
A year or so later, I was dating in an accepted fashion and aspects of sex were beginning to raised their ugly head (did I do a pun there?). It was a fumblingly, frustrating time. Massively confusing. Completely at odds with what I felt I should be feeling and doing.
And along he came. 1988. Lovesexy. There it was, in glorious flouro-colour, the combination of the sacred and the profane which had narrated Prince’s work right from the start. I simply hadn’t been listening up until then. In retrospect, it is easy to see that Lovesexy was a clichéd fight between the moral and immoral self that I had alighted on. At the time, it felt vital, euphoric, real. It was a drug that coursed through my veins. It gave my heart permission to pump. And it was an adventure, one carried out with 20/20 hindsight; look, Lovesexy was the climax…the rest of the 80s had been the journey, the struggle towards realisation. It was all there on the 9th September 1988, when Channel Four carried the broadcast of the Livesexy show, from Dortmund. The retrospective, the new album, the hits package. In that one show Prince defined his career and appeared to be saying to the world that he had found an answer. This Welsh boy agreed with him. I thought he had too.
He hadn’t. And I haven’t. I’m still the confused laborious vapid Welsh boy. I suppose that’s what’s made this last year so difficult. I always hoped that Prince would turn a corner. He threatened to so so very often. The massive irony is that it appears he was on the verge of something quite innovative. The Piano and Microphone Tour and the new recordings hint at a revival of his creativity. Not that that had gone too far away, whenever a new Prince album came out, there was always something… but then again, after him deciding that he’d found answers complacency was always going to kick in and consistency in his output suffered. I meander away from the point.
21st April 2016 killed joy. Brought to an abrupt end a pathway I was walking along. I reacted so poorly. It’s taken one year and the collapse of life to make me see. Stop hanging on and waiting, start being. Stop investing your emotional self vicariously in another, be a person. Take responsibility.
I’ve had that thrust upon me and I’m trying to cope. It’s not led to a Bob George moment yet.