'I am something that you'll never understand.'
Yesterday an acquaintance posted on her Facebook that everyone should 'get over it', that 'people die every day', in response to the outpouring of emotion and memories in the light of Prince's death on Thursday, April 21st. I pointlessly tried to explain that no-one is glorifying a death due to his being a celebrity - but as with any Facebook argument, it always ends up being a dumb exercise. How could she understand?
She hadn't been there when Prince first emerged on our screens, in tiny pants and thigh high boots, strutting, singing, sometimes squawking. He was this inexplicable force. He wore makeup, he wore frills and velvet, he curled his hair - he pouted - and yet he was undeniably masculine. And sexy.
Compared to today's purveyors of the 'no f***s given' brand - Rihanna and her ever-present nipples for instance - Prince was undoubtedly the first 'star' to do exactly as he pleased, with no forethought as to how he might be mis/understood.
I've read countless obituaries in the hope of learning some hidden secrets or mantras that Prince held dear, but instead I have learned that his NFG attitude was carefully crafted by him, a veil behind which he could work on his music in private. He also knew that giving less of his life meant that we would only crave more. The music he created made us want to get to know him better. The words to songs such as Adore and Nothing Compares 2 U would, and still do, reduce us to tears, while others, like U Got The Look and Girls And Boys would make you wish you could encounter his inner world just once, to see if your wild imagination fit his reality. Failing that, you might settle for being one of the many women in his life, personally or professionally. From his on-stage colleagues Wendy & Lisa to Purple Rain co-star Apollonia and former wife Mayte Garcia, Prince surrounded himself with some beautifully strong women.
What I loved most, perhaps, was how, alongside his image, his music couldn't be compartmentalised; he was rock and roll, he was funk, he was R&B. Early on in his career, while the world was loving Rick James' funk/disco sounds, with Prince we were given an orchestral extravaganza of sounds. Often playing in a minor key he gave R&B a much darker sound. At other times he infused his music with a pop sound, which again, only added to his eclectic fan base (I still find it hard to believe that he only ever had one number 1 single in the UK, The Most Beautiful Girl In The World .)
When I remind myself of Prince's height - 5ft 3 inches - I have to smile, because for so many of us he was an intimidating, giant of a man. (I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but if the way I behaved when I met Robert De Niro is any indication, I probably would have wet myself. Just saying.)
No matter how the quality of his prolific music catalog might have ebbed and flowed, Prince was a force to be reckoned with. So much so that we - or at least I did - took him for granted. Was I listening to Raspberry Beret last week or even last month? No. But I didn't need to; Prince's music was an accompaniment to my life, something I knew I could call on at any time. I knew that playing his music could make me feel any kind of way; it could be my friend, lover, confidant. It could make me smile or sigh. I never checked to see if Prince ever tweeted or if he was as entertaining as Kanye, because Prince was PRINCE. He was a presence that I would no doubt go on to see winning numerous lifetime achievement awards at the age of 90, probably wearing a small, white Afro wig, round shades and that sly smirk. I took that for granted.
We're all gonna die
And when we do (when we do)
What's it all 4 (what's it all 4)
U better live now
What was your favourite Prince song? I still can't decide! Let me know in the comments below