“How can you miss someone you never met?” is a question I’ve asked myself thousands of times in the last three years. It’s a question I don’t really know how to answer other than to say, I just do. Your music and your persona entered my life at a pivotal time and have drifted in and out of it ever since. Without you even being aware of it, you got me through some really tough times. You have helped me build relationships (and destroy a few). You have helped me come to the realization that I can only depend on me and no one else. You have helped me become comfortable in my own skin. My life would be vastly different, and much less happy, if you had never come along. You were – are – a godsend.
I wish there were some way that I could repay you for what you’ve done. Anything I try will be inadequate. I will continue to try, though, because giving up isn’t an option (another thing I learned from you). You matter. Your legacy matters. This relentless push to do something won’t let me rest, so I have no choice but to stay the course and at least attempt to get you the appreciation you deserve. Although you received many, many awards while you were here, there are a few accolades that eluded you. Included in this is the dream factory you worked so hard to build. A dream realized for you, Paisley Park is a national treasure, and I intend to make certain that it is officially recognized as such.
Additionally, this incessant urge to protect your legacy (and by extension, you) has somehow pressured me into becoming a de facto watchdog. This is not a role I asked for, nor is it one I relish; but it is also an unfortunate necessity given the state of affairs with regard to all things Prince. I am not alone in this, of course, and am thankful for my colleagues who diligently defend you even when it is unpopular to do so. Those of us who have no axe to grind and are not looking to profit from your name risk our reputations and often face harsh criticism for the things we do and say, but love for you is the only motivation, and we therefore will continue to fight the good fight. It takes an army to protect Prince, and you’ve certainly got one.
I spend a lot of time ignoring things, too. For instance:
- Some folks who previously vilified you are now attempting to make their living performing your work. It seems that some folks never forgave you for things that happened 20, 30, 40 years ago, and now they are trying to exact some sort of “revenge” by making money off of your name.
- Everyone under the sun seems to be writing books with half the fam defending it with, “It’s their story to tell.” That may be true, but I submit that if you weren’t a central character, no one would be willing to hear “their story.” Your story is the only one that matters, and your music tells it.
- The purple fam spends a lot of time debating who was your one true love or who was this or that song about rather than coming to a consensus on who is best suited to help sort out the vault and making that happen. The right person(s) archiving and curating the vault and advising the estate on releases could make all the difference in how we come to understand your creative process (assuming that it is even possible to understand it).
I suspect you knew these events, or something similar, would transpire once you moved on from this place. You are likely looking down on me now chuckling not only at the fact that I am troubled by these things but that I have the temerity to write all this down. “Mutiny” has been banging around in my head for days now. I don’t know exactly what message you’re trying to send with that, but I sure do wish you’d come back and reclaim your ship …
I’m sure you would handle things differently than the current powers that be, as your creativity would play into the equation. But I am hopeful they are doing the best they can, given the fact that they don’t have your insight to draw upon. The choice of music being released/re-released is heavily criticized without regard to the fact that they are likely marketing to folks who may never have heard your work (or have had limited access to it). We fell in love with you and your music because of the way you introduced yourself and your work to us. Your relationship with us was one that you created, fertilized, and allowed to blossom. The purple fam is what it is because we got to know your work in real time while you were present with us. What a blessing we were given. It seems unfair to criticize actions that are seemingly designed to introduce you to ears who would otherwise not have the opportunity to appreciate the breadth of your work.
As I sit here this morning pondering all this with another April 21 bearing down on me, the birds are chirping, the trees are budding, and I am reminded that there aren’t really any endings. Life keeps going. Acceptance has begun to settle in, bringing with it a new type of grief. It seems that love and loss go hand in hand. If the loss of you is the price to be paid for the love of you, then so be it. There is comfort in the fact that your work lives on forever – which means you do too. And for that, I am eternally grateful.