I have loved Prince since I was a little girl; I was at the precipice of my “mental awakening” to the world around me, it was this man who entered my world at the very moment my young mind was opening up to the concept of my universe; my surroundings. All humans go through this; it’s the evolution of our brains before puberty when we come out of the haze of naiveté for the first time.
I had the unique privilege of having my world introduced by the one and only Prince; the first human to demonstrate to me what it was to be completely and absolutely free. How can one person demonstrate this limitless possibility to an impressionable young one? In every aspect of his life Prince defied ALL barriers and stereotypes that poison the human mind with hate, bigotry and discrimination. To me Prince was a representation of the love humanity is capable of demonstrating to everything in this universe. This became apparent with my first cassette; Dirty Mind. I remember that day so clearly.
We were at a truck stop just outside of Joliet, Illinois and they had a spinning display with a bunch of different cassettes. As I was slowly spinning the thing checking out the album art I saw Prince for the first time, I was completely hypnotized by this Adonis of a man who stood there in black & white in front of a mattress spring. I grabbed the tape and begged, tugged and pleaded with my dad to buy it. To my surprise he did. I listened to that tape for 4 days non-stop on my Sony Walkman… I memorized every note, every sound, every rhythmic vibration he laid down on every single track. When I say my first cassette, I mean that, it was my very first “purchased” cassette tape; meaning it wasn’t my poor attempt at a radio station recording… putting a piece of tape or squishing a piece of paper into the little cut out to record over a another album trying to time the end of a song so I didn’t pick up the DJ or a commercial… few will understand that last statement lol…
As a child I was constantly asked if I was a boy or a girl, and suffered the teasing that followed shortly after because of my appearance. It may have seemed comical to some, but it made me question a lot of things about my existence and was enough to follow me throughout my life with self-conscious thoughts and self-doubt…. Prince showed me it was ok not to “fit in” to the cookie cutter, white bread society. Instead of fitting in, Prince pounded that square peg into the round hole and not only made it fit, like it or not he made it sexy and fabulous. Prince broke gender barriers while maintaining a masculinity about him which was as radiating as the brightest star in the universe.
Prince demonstrated an all-embracing essence of beauty in a manner that defied all boundaries. Prince made me realize beauty originates everywhere from everything, and especially how the walls we build within ourselves of fear, trepidation, doubt and suspicion blinds us from this beauty. By doing this he gave me confidence to be comfortable in my own skin, no matter what direction life took me.
A lot of people thought Prince was shy, not understanding that he had learned to keep to himself and not reveal himself to those he wasn’t comfortable enough with to be expressive. If you were lucky enough to be pulled into his confidence he was a completely different man, and definitely did not carry himself as a “shy” person, On the contrary… He was funny and spiritual and highly intellectual. He was fully aware his very presence established he was a bold and outspoken individual who used his music as his platform for self-expression. He would let his music do the talking for him.
Prince mastered the art of duality, and demonstrated this to perfection in every aspect of his life. This made for many of his fans to select one side and either dismiss or dislike the other. However, his main goal with the duality he demonstrated was to connect these 2 polar opposites into one, and make it impossible to function as one or the other, without one side the other would be disjointed, disconnected and incomplete.
One of the most significant lessons Prince taught me was the corrosion of conformity to a label/genre/category/class and how this decays our ability to decipher the resonance of the universe. We as humans have a remarkable capability to not only hear the resonances of the universe; we can filter these reverberations and create our rendition of the vibrations we receive in our brain. Most of us have never even considered fine tuning this ability, and for the most part ignore it. Prince was not only in tune with it, he demonstrated this incredibly fine-tuned ability most profoundly in his music.
In an age where music was becoming more and more segregated he shattered down the walls and refused to be categorized. Prince was able to articulate the music he engendered without conforming to a classification. I have myself witnessed the jaw dropping splendor of a man who can pick up any instrument on a whim and create the most expressive sound from it. Although he had an incredible talent on pretty much any instrument you threw at him, his one true love was guitar, and this my friends in turn was the spark that ignited my passion and love for guitar. Prince had this astoundingly supernatural ability to not only pick up and play every guitar riff, lick, ditty he heard, he transformed it into his own vision of the music with which never failed to blow minds and ignite an emotional response.
As you listen to Prince’s earlier works and make your way through to his more current music you hear the evolution of his compositions becoming more defined, and a complexity of sounds that introduce emotion, reaction, stimulation and intimacy in every note played. It is apparent Prince was tapped into a frequency most of us only dream we can taste for a splinter in time. He shared with us as much as he possibly could in the time he was with us, through his transcendent ability to decipher the resonance of the universe.
My fist interaction with Prince was at the tender age of 10. I wrote Prince a letter, typical tween nonsense, but also thanking him for getting me through some emotional bad spots with his music. I remember distinctly using the address on the back of the 1999 album to mail it, and drawing the Album art on the margin of the page. I had completely forgotten about it, went on with my tween life. To my surprise about a month later he wrote back, thanking me for the “beautiful letter” and gifting me an autographed photograph.
This was validation of my love for Prince, and affirmation this artist cared about his fans. I’m sure by the manner my fan letter was penned he was aware this was a wee little fan which made it even more special. Later, in 1991 when I met him he actually remembered me, my letter & sending the photo to me. I will never forget the way he said “Oh wow, you’re THAT Lucy?!” It was one of the best days of my life and transformed into one of the greatest friendships in my entire existence.
As I had mentioned before, Prince had mastered duality, and never felt comfortable being pigeon-holed into a singular label/classification. This was also true when it came to his spirituality. Prince was always on the quest to be one with God, to seek out the lessons this life provided. In saying this, and to provide understanding, Prince was more than Christian, more than a Jehovah’s Witness, and it disheartens me to see people classify him into these categories. Prince sought understanding, searched for connection to God, and had his own construct of who/what God is. His search for knowledge within the spiritual realm was never-ending, and ran the gambit of all religions and beliefs. His library included the Quran, several different versions of the bible, and spiritual texts from all over this wonderful world.
The reason I feel the need to mention this is because I have noticed people (again) will only seek what they understood about his spiritual journey and either dismiss or dislike the rest. That’s fine, most humans can only be comfortable with classifying themselves as one religion, one path, one direction. However when it comes to Prince, it is impossible to claim to know what he’s about by doing this, it would be like only putting half a jigsaw puzzle together and throwing out the rest of the pieces once you think you’ve figured out the whole picture.
Prince sought understanding of God, from all perspectives; not just Christianity. More recently (within the last years of his life) he started exploring non-traditional methods of spiritual expression; including Veganism, which is more in line with Buddhism, Taoism, and Hindi religions. He once stated he admired how disciplined people from the Middle East and Asia were regarding their faiths. Does this mean he is now Hindi or Muslim? Of course not, however this is how humans begin to build that wall; by throwing labels at themselves and each other.
Prince had a unique philosophy on God; We are closest to God when we have a euphoric feeling of joy, love, happiness and/or pleasure; such as sexual intimacy. More than that however, Prince displayed an endless learning and understanding towards his connection to God through his human abilities, which he demonstrated to perfection through his music.
Prince taught me to appreciate the never-ending learning process of our human minds, by always demonstrating a child-like curiosity and wonder for everything we encounter. The moment we stop learning about the splendor of our universe is the moment our minds begin to decay with stagnant thoughts of fear, hate and delusion. Most humans choose to remove themselves from free thought and tie themselves in a ritual of faith. Prince demonstrated to me the evolution humans struggle with the most; the evolution of self. Take on change as a challenge instead of battling it down to submission. Open up to understanding and how life is a never-ending learning process in which we either flourish by providing our brain with fresh knowledge or decay in a stagnant pool of fear and dread.
We are humans, and as such we all struggle with pain, whether it is physical, mental, or emotional. I have always advocated the restriction of our society’s excessive use of prescription medication as a “Band-Aid on a broken arm” approach to avoid actual treatment and cures. What was agonizingly obvious too little too late was that Prince was in pain, and needed help. I have to ask why no one was there to help him before it got to this point? Especially when the biggest warning sign bitch-slapped us when he made the emergency landing in Moline. All of us, from the casual fan to those who were closest to him right before he left us were on the outside looking in, because no one tried to crack the shell he enveloped himself in. Because of this, none of us could have done anything to prevent what led to Prince’s untimely departure from this plain of existence, and passing blame only extends the undeniable truth; he was alone and no one cared enough about him to step up and get him the help he needed when he needed it.
We can only emphasize the privilege of being in the presence of this prolific, euphonious genius for an echo of our lives. I was a little girl who was searching for identity, who even though was surrounded by humans felt insignificant and alone in this universe, until a unique, extraordinary and special man touched my life and changed it forever. Prince was more than a musician to me; he was a life teacher, an artistic inspiration, and a virtuous mentor. To me Prince Rogers Nelson is, and will always be the greatest artist and the most influential human that ever lived.