All Good Things, They Say, Never Last

All Good Things, They Say, Never Last

The music of Prince is a common thread in so many of my memories:

The summer after 5th grade, I lip-synced “Let’s Go Crazy” onstage for talent night at summer camp. A chubby, pasty-white kid, dancing like a madman, pantomiming practically every line. When that guitar solo closed out the song in epic fashion, I shredded on a tennis racket while making my best approximation of guitar face.

Later, in my early 20’s, I learned I could also rock a pretty mean “Purple Rain” at karaoke night.

Taping the end of “Darling Nikki” on the reel-to-reel my dad passed on to me, just so I could easily reverse the playback and find out what the hell that backwards a capella thing was all about (the coming of the Lord, obviously).

In 7th grade I recorded a cover medley of “Raspberry Beret” and “Paisley Park” featuring crudely layered  vocals and violin. In lieu of actual multi-track equipment, I would record from the built in mic on one boombox, then play back on another while I sang/played over it.

One of my first online friendships formed via an early 90’s BBS over a mutual admiration for Prince and many discussions of the Love Symbol album (hey Paul, are you still out there?)

Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if I subconsciously chose the liberal arts college I went to in the twin cities for its proximity to Prince’s stomping grounds.

What drew me to him wasn’t his outlandish look, or his unapologetic sexuality, but his way with an arrangement. His singles were perfect encapsulations of his musical talent, until you heard the longer album versions that would open up into these amazing unexpected pieces. And even at that, the album versions were frequently just cut down from even longer jams that got released on 12″ singles. Somewhere out there is a 20 minute – 20 fucking minute! – version of “America” that loses none of its power over the duration.

I didn’t keep track of much of his output after the “slave”/symbol era, but that run from 1999 to the Love Symbol album meant a lot, and perfectly bookended my experience from elementary school to college freshman.

RIP, you purple freak. May U always look 2 The Dawn.


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