This post has been a while coming, though I can never write all the things I want to about Prince. For me to have bought anything on vinyl in the early to mid-1980s was rare because I was on such a tight budget. Buying music would seriously have been a choice not to buy food. Also, the water leak disaster in one of my college-years houses that left most of my albums unplayable meant I got rid of a lot of them. But I could never have let go of Purple Rain. I have it on CD now, but holding the album in my hands evokes so many memories of all the stereos and apartments and cities where I listened to it and the people who listened to it with me.
I feel fortunate to have lived and been young (and old) and a person who danced and sang along in a time when someone as gifted and unique as Prince was creating music. Not just the music he recorded, but all of his songs that other people covered. I don’t remember the first song I heard Prince sing or saw him perform, but I do have another of those “I remember the first time I heard it” stories.
When I was assistant managing a bookstore, one of our employees was a high school student who worked there afternoons and weekends. She kept telling me about her current music obsession, Sinéad O’Connor. I had no idea who that was; I hadn’t heard any of her music, but Alison was always quoting her lyrics to me. One night I was sitting in Pizza Hut–the place where Tom, Lynne, and I often took Jess and his friends when they were growing boys because of the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet–when a song came on the jukebox. I was mesmerized, something clicked, and I thought, That has to be the singer Alison’s always talking about. And that song is amazing.
It was, of course, “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and although Prince didn’t write it for O’Connor, as some people say, she certainly rode it into the stratosphere on her ascent to stardom. I doubt I knew it was a Prince song when I bought her CD I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, I just knew it was a great song.
I also feel fortunate that I live in the days of being able to fall down an Internet hole of online music and video whenever I want to hear or watch a legend like Prince. Nothing compares to him, and I’m sorry for all the unwritten, unrecorded music we’ll never get to hear, but so grateful for the music we have.