A few months ago, after David Bowie died, I had a discussion with a friend and we wondered if any musician’s death would affect us the way Bowie’s seemed to affect a number of people. I struggled to come up with names. I thought maybe Springsteen or Dylan, but no one was sticking out to me.
Well, Prince’s death is affecting me more than I thought it would. He’s the first artist I’ve seen live that’s died. I saw him when I was 16, the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school. It was on his Musicology tour. Looking back on it, I don’t think I appreciated seeing him then as much as I do now.
So when news of this hit Twitter, I started to choke up a little bit. I was at work. I’m in a small office, so once one person started talking about it, everyone knew. I fell into that black hole of social media time-suck of refreshing Twitter, trying to figure out what was going on.
I had to step away from my computer for a little bit because it just got to sad. After doing some work offline, I decided to spend the 12 bucks for Prince’s Greatest Hits album. I’m glad I spent the money. After all, he was a leader in making sure artists got properly reimbursed for their work.
I put on “Let’s Go Crazy” and I started to feel a little bit better. “Dearly beloved, we’re here today to get through this thing called life.” I find it interesting that even though Prince was an eccentric guy, he was still grounded. He was a Jehovah's Witness. He rode his bike. He like pancakes.
I think the thing I liked most about Prince was that he was Minnesotan. Let’s be honest, you don’t think of Prince as Minnesota. You’d expect him to be from somewhere like New York or Los Angeles. But he was ours. He wasn’t the stereotypical Minnesotan who talked in accents and wore flannel. He was cool. He did whatever he wanted. (I can’t think of any other Minnesotan who could turn himself into a symbol and get away with it.)
One other thing was that, as weird as you thought he was, you could still tell that he was just a guy playing music. He went to Timberwolves and Lynx games. He wrote a song after the Vikings went to the NFC championship (probably not one of his better works though.) He wrote a song about the riots in Baltimore. He also valued his privacy. He was a guy from Minnesota who enjoyed making music at heart.
It’s sad that it takes a death to bring people together, but it’s a nice feeling that I’m not alone with my feelings about Prince Rogers Nelson. As many people have said today, he made Minnesota proud.
Another line from “Let’s Go Crazy” stuck with me...
Take a look around you
At least you got friends
That’s a great sentiment to have.