You just knew about him as if knowledge of his existence was part of your genetic makeup if you were born within the state lines. The closer you got to the Twin Cities the more stories you heard about him.
Everything I’ve heard of him paints him as a mysterious person. He would show up at clubs unannounced and then jump on stage and play for as long as he wanted. He would play short sets or concerts that went long into the early morning, especially at Paisley Park. I also knew that he was intensely private and he addressed you first, not the other way around. But when he did talk he was a warm person to talk to.
When I heard about his passing I was in disbelief. Prince doesn’t die!, I thought. He’s Prince! He’s supposed to live on forever so he can keep making music that will drive people to continuously add to the Earth’s population at exponential rates! He’s not of this world! Throughout the day I kept checking Facebook during work (no one saw me) and it started hitting me more and more as my friends updated their statuses of sad face emojis, disbelief, and memories.
I didn’t grow up on his music because it wasn’t the type of music my parents listened to. My dad was huge into blues, my mom LOVED Celine Dion, and they aren’t from Minneapolis. We had the Purple Rain and Diamonds And Pearls albums in the family collection, but they weren’t regular listening. Now that I’ve listened more of his work over the last few days I can understand why my parents may not have wanted my brother and I to listen to a lot of those sexually charged songs.
My dad did have a Prince run in. He was at the airport looking at some magazines when he sees a white glove reach across him. The owner of the glove said a simple, “Excuse me,” to my dad as he reached for some teen magazine. He turned to the owner and realized the man was Prince. He also saw what claims is that biggest black guy he’d ever seen right by Prince. After Prince grabbed the magazine my dad said he simply walked over to the cashier, paid for it, and went on his way.
For the first time in a long time I listened to the radio on the way home from work, and even took a longer way through the outskirts of Minneapolis. As I was listening to the Prince tributes stations were having I began to hear just how much Prince meant to people. For many, Purple Rain was first album they bought. His music was the soundtrack to many pivotal moments in their lives. With his music they felt something down in their soul, and it was glorious.
No matter how many time he left Minnesota he always came back. Our state can’t claim many famous people. There were many that were born here like Jessica Biel, Josh Hartnett, Chris Pratt, Sean William Scott, and Bob Dylan but they all moved to make their name in Hollywood or New York. But I think Prince more than makes up for all of that. Very few make an impact with art the he did.
Over the past several days there has been nothing but love for Prince. It was shown as over a thousand people gathered to dance to his music in front of First Avenue, a party that lasted well into the early morning. I went up to Paisley Park Friday night and people never stopped coming to pay their respects even as I was turning to leave at 9pm. It was peaceful, respectful.
While I didn’t attend, the love was shown again has countless gathered at Target Field for a screening of Purple Rain. And then there were those who waited outside for hours to dance the night away inside First Avenue’s cover-free dance party, which started at 1:30 am on Saturday and Sunday morning.
Minnesota lost one of their own. So the people celebrated his life the best way they knew how: by saying, ‘let’s go crazy’…and they won’t be stopping anytime soon.
And he wouldn’t have it any other way.