I’m just going to riff today, because none of this makes sense. Prince being gone is like your arm being gone or your ears or eyes. At least for me it is. I don’t remember a time without him. In fact, my world became more vibrant when I discovered him.
I was a little afro-puffed haired girl living in Detroit and I was with my mom when his song Soft and Wet came on the radio.
I was about nine-years-old. It filled my ears up with joy. That’s all I know. I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about and I didn’t have to. He sounded so damn good! I remember asking my mother, “Mom, who is that lady singing?” She laughed and said, “No, baby, that’s not a lady, that’s a man. That’s Prince.” Oh word? For real though? Okay, bet. I was hooked from that moment on. I begged for extra allowance to buy everything of his I could get my hands on. Music, t-shirts, movie tickets, concert tickets.
In high school I even took to dressing like him. I was a cross-dresser! LOL! Me and my best friend even did a skit as Prince (me) and Sheila E. (her) for the talent show. We were invested. I wore my eyeliner like his, painted a fake mole on my face to represent the one he had. I was gone y’all. Posters plastered my wall. Prince wallpaper. Nothing else would do.
His music was like fruit, vegetables, candy, meat, wine, chocolate. Sustenance for my soul. Food for every fiber of my being.
I listened to him every day. I wore my tape cassettes out. Popping them on occasion. That didn’t bother me. I’d just buy more. I even had some Prince on vinyl, but I loved carrying him with me, so as soon as I had enough money saved I bought a Sony Walkman and then a Discman so I could have my friend/first boyfriend with me at all times.
I have so many memories that include Prince music. Roller skating at Skateland on Saturday’s.
It wouldn’t have been as much fun without his jams cascading down on me like lyrical rain. I can remember specific romantic relationships as that relate to the Prince songs that were popular that year. Songs that catalog how happy or sad I was. Music that wrapped me tight and kept me warm when I was heartbroken and in my feelings over some boy. Tunes that told me everything was going to be alright when I was having rough times with my mom. The same mom who nurtured my love for Prince. She took me to see Purple Rain. I’ll never forget how she turned her whole body around and stared me down during those sex scenes to make sure I was too ashamed to keep looking. As she stared down at me, I put my eyes down out of respect for her. But, I snuck out of school one day and went to go see it again with a friend of mine so I could enjoy it unencumbered by parental authority, oh yes the hell I did!
I am on a high and almost dizzy as I recollect all of the wonderful memories of Prince, but knowing that he’s gone sends me crashing back down. How y’all? Why? How did this happen?
Am I the only one who thought he’d live to be 100? That we’d still have him to counsel and guide us about music. Who will teach these young folks we have now about real artistry? I know we still have some legends left who care, but no one could get a point across like Prince. He threw just enough shade to let you know, but his passion for music is like none other.
When we lost Luther, Michael and Whitney it tore a hole through me, but I always felt comforted because I just knew Prince wasn’t going nowhere. He was our funky soul man, but he was clean. He took care of his temple and his mind. You never heard any crazy shit about Prince. Now there are stories. Damn. I am not going there here. I refuse. I don’t care what happened. The man is gone and my heart is broken. I won’t let sharks and charlatans who love to feast on negativity ruin my memories of Prince. Nope, nope, nope.
If you watched the video above, please pardon my appearance and delivery. I had just found out about what happened to Prince so I jumped on Periscope for my first broadcast to talk it out. As I watched the replay, I noticed that I was stuttering at some points and speechless. I still feel this way, but I know that I have to keep going. As an artist myself, I know The Purple One would want me to keep striving to perfect my craft of writing. I’m gonna hurt for a long time over this, but I can’t give up or stay sad because I have work to do. I’m going to use my memories and the artistry of Prince’s great musical legacy to inspire me. I have to.
Our losses slice us up, gut us and pummel us and like this last tragedy, they can knock us the fuck out, but we have to get up.
Honestly, I’m on the mat right now. I am not bouncing up. I’m beat up pretty badly and will need some serious soul surgery after this. In fact, I may just lay here and let the birds fly around my head for a while until I can get my bearings. This is some deep shit.
I do know that when I do get up that I can navigate my way to The Ladder.
Everybody’s looking 4 the ladder
Everybody wants salvation of the soul
The steps u take are no easy road
But the reward is great
4 Those who want 2 go
Only real Prince fans know about The Ladder.
Everybody’s looking 4 the answers
How the story started and how it will end
What’s the use in half a story, half a dream
U have 2 climb all of the steps in between (yeah, we ride)
Prince, your story started with waves that rocked you and forced you to face the difficulties in your life and you used music to heal yourself and entertain and educate us.
We’re still trying to understand the ending of your earth’s walk, but you gave us so much joy in the steps in between that we can and will get through this. We will find comfort in knowing you are one with the Lord, your amazing creator and that one day we too, will be there with him if we believe.
In the meantime and in between time, we will remember you, celebrate and love you from down here so hard that you will feel it wherever you are. Thanks for the love and the music dear one.
You lived to see the dawn.
Now. I wish you heaven.
© 2016, TamekaMullins. All rights reserved.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.