Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince, April 21, 2016

I was having one of those days where you're cut off from the interweb: driving a car with other passengers (so the radio is off), visiting some people, driving a car home, having lunch with several people.

Then it was about 3:00 p.m. and in a brief lull in the conversation I checked email on my phone and saw first a message from the Star Tribune that someone had died at Paisley Park. Then one from the Strib that Prince had died. Then another from the New York Times saying the same.

The people I was with weren't too fazed by the news, not being music fans or having much interest in popular culture. I can't claim to be a major Prince fan myself, but he's probably the best-known cultural figure ever to come out of Minnesota. (Maybe there would have to be an arm-wrestling match between him and Garrison Keillor, though I think they would agree that there's not much overlap in their audiences.) We've heard about him all the time, even during the points when his career meandered out of the national spotlight.

Anyway. All I can say is that when I moved here in 1986 Prince was one of the few things I knew about Minnesota. He's the reason I realized Minnesota wasn't just made up of white people (a popular myth that is increasingly further from the truth). It was impossible to be a young adult in the mid-1980s, at least where I was living in Washington, D.C., and not hear Prince — even if you didn't see his movie Purple Rain (which I still have never seen).

So. I'm sad that he is gone, glad for him that it appears to have been quick and I hope painless.

The best from social media:

Prince changed how I understood gender and pushed back against the idea that masculinity had to look a certain way.

Given how black artists have been exploited & mistreated in American music, Prince taking a stand on ownership is as radical as his songs.

Tonight, the 35W bridge in downtown Minneapolis:

Oh, and to white fans who are going on about how Prince was post-racial: Please stop it. Just because you like him doesn't make him not black.

1 comment:

Gina said...

That's about how I heard the news. I'd just returned from my pulmonology assessment and was setting up my computer to do some work. I turned on the TV for a brief look at weather and KARE 11 was doing some sort of special coverage, talking with musicians who'd worked with Prince, etc. It struck me as surreal, somehow -- special coverage for his death. Why not special coverage for his life? During his life? Anyway, I'm not that familiar with his music, but I'd admired his genre-bending music, his wild fashion sense, and his insistence on ownership of his intellectual property. I wrote about him at my Perceval blog last weekend, and my one semi-close encounter with him. I'm just grateful that purple is my favorite color.....