Friday, April 22, 2016

Some Prince-Related Memories

1982: I was still trying to come to terms with the wonder that was MTV (radio that you could watch!), and “1999” was getting a lot of airplay at the time. The year 1999 sounded so far away and futuristic. I also wondered if Wendy and Lisa were conjoined twins.

1982: Arguing with my brother about "Little Red Corvette." I said it was about a girl; he said it was about a car. Come on, am I right?

Summer 1984: I remember where I was the first time I heard “When Doves Cry.” I was in my bedroom and just tuned my stereo’s dial to my favorite radio station. The song was in the “yeah, yeah, yeah…” part at the beginning. I thought, “What IS that?” It sucked me in and I’ve loved that song and the entire Purple Rain album ever since.

Also 1984: Making up a twirling routine in my room to “Let’s Go Crazy” and whacking myself in the face with the end of my baton trying to execute a big finish.

Also 1984: “When Doves Cry” became my first break-up song. Although that song was about a complicated adult relationship and not a couple of 12-year-olds who held hands at Six Flags.

Also 1984: I bought Purple Rain on cassette at the mall with my mom. I couldn’t wait to listen to it, so I opened it and popped it in the tape deck on the way home. All was well until it hit the last song on side one, which was “Darling Nikki.” Never had I imagined the word “masturbating” would turn up in a pop song. Cuss words, sure. But the “m” word? My mom was mad and I was mortified. I actually felt betrayed by Prince in that moment.

1985: I got into an argument with a friend who thought the song said “Raspberry Parade.” How could anyone be so stupid? How do you wear a parade?

1988: I took it personally when Tom Jones covered Prince’s “Kiss.” My class voted Jones’ version as the worst song of the year for the yearbook, and I still don’t know that I have ever hated a song as much as that one.

Sometime in the late ’80s: Area church youth groups would meet at the local skating rink on the first Tuesday of every month. I looked forward to this all month and typically chose my outfit weeks in advance. One night, the DJ either didn’t get the memo that these were church groups, or just didn’t care, but he played “Erotic City” for us to skate to. One of the youth ministers was already anti-rock ‘n’ roll, and this did not help things. I still thought the incident was pretty funny, though.

1991: A college student by then, I remember falling in love with “Diamonds and Pearls.” It might still be my favorite Prince song.

2010ish: I was playing Barbies with Jenna in her room, and she wanted to have a Barbie wedding. She handed me a Barbie and asked me to play the role of preacher. So the bride came down the aisle, and the preacher began with, "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life." By the time I got to the part about the shrink in Beverly Hills, Julia had come in, and by the end, both girls were rolling. "Where did you get that?" they asked. I said, "I've had that memorized for 25 years."

2016: While having lunch with my youngest in her school cafeteria, I got an all-caps text from my oldest: “PRINCE DIED.” The 44-year-old me held it together while the part of me who is still 13 experienced yet another heartbreak. Adolescence is not easy for anyone, and we all chose different ways to survive it. My coping mechanism was to turn on the radio and turn on MTV. The things I heard and saw were not just entertainment; they were a means of escape and survival. Prince was a huge part of that. I am so grateful for the art he was gifted with and the fact that he chose to share it with my generation.


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