The morning was a little too quiet, the sky was grey, the rain was gently falling, and I turned on the radio. The Current DJs were talking about a death at Paisley Park and I thought something terrible must have happened to someone on staff. My mind wandered to those I know who have encountered and worked for Prince, and I said a quiet prayer for their well-being.
Then rumors came that it could be Prince. I called my husband and told him about the rumors and his response was, “No. Prince doesn’t die.”
The baby was napping and I stood by our sliding glass door watching the rain turn our grass green, thinking about the purple lilacs that would soon bloom. The DJ returned to say nothing has been confirmed, but that many reputable sources were stating Prince was dead. And I burst into tears.
I don’t consider myself a music junkie anymore. Being a person with children and a big fan of sleep, I have traded nights at concerts for early bedtimes. The space in my brain no longer has room for obscure band facts or even most song titles. The person I was before parenthood would have seen my tears and passed harsh judgments.
Prince is by no means my favorite musician, he has never made his way onto my desert island list, and I don’t know a whole lot about each of his albums and when they were released. Regardless, Prince was an integral part of my life with his musical brilliance having woven itself into many of my core memories. It began with those muscle-shirted men walking the streets during Grand ‘Ol Days sporting boomboxes playing Prince’s hits and continued to jumping on the trampoline while singing Raspberry Beret. Little Red Corvette became meaningful when my dad started sporting a little red vehicle himself, and boy did I giggle (and baffle) when entering my teens and starting to understand the racier side of his lyrics. I dreamt of partying like it was 1999, and then I actually did.
And of course there were the many local experiences. The Minnesota pride, the Prince sightings and stories. There were the friends who spotted him at Barnes & Noble, were lucky enough to be at one of his surprise shows, worked in his studio, and more. It was about a year ago that I laid myself prostrate in a friend’s kitchen as he told me about an old youth group acquaintance who was working with her husband as Prince’s personal chefs. The notion that I had a connection with Prince’s pancake-maker was a little more than I could handle. Not only that, but I love Minnesota and felt a connection with this incredibly famous person who loved it enough to stay here and maintain a strong presence in the area.
Most recently, The Local Current promised to go all-Prince once an inch of snow had fallen in Chanhassen. This happened in early December when I was almost 2 weeks past my due-date. The Prince lever was pulled shortly after my water broke and I spent the day at home having occasional contractions and wondering what Prince song might help me dance my baby into the world.
He was an artist who crept in and out of my atmosphere. He was such a huge cultural phenomenon that I took him for granted as somebody who would always be creating and influencing the music scene. I never went to Paisley Park because I thought I had plenty of time to get there. As a music lover and as a Minnesotan, Prince’s death hit me a lot harder than I would have thought. His incorporation into almost every aspect of my life from childhood to parenthood was like a heartbeat. I didn’t put much thought into it until it was interrupted.
Perhaps the realization of his humanity is hitting me this way because I’m experiencing a personal crossroad - on sabbatical from my chosen career, experiencing life through the wonder of a newborn, and reflecting on what I’m actually doing to make the world a better place. I have known and experienced the truth that life is fragile, I get that live music won’t always be live … I’ve heard it over and over again, yet I still think I have time. So when somebody like Prince - somebody who is too famous, too influential, possibly too powerful, and maybe too good to die - actual does die, it puts a pause in my universe. It’s another heartbreaking meditation in this life we are living together. And I’m sad that his time is over. And I’m inspired yet uncertain about what I will do to make this world more beautiful.