I already wrote an obituary for Prince at Screen Rant; you can read that here. Below, just a few disconnected thoughts on the death of the Purple One:
Ever since Prince passed away on Thursday, I’ve discovered that a lot of my Minneapolis friends have Prince stories. They once ran into him somewhere, he randomly popped onstage at a club they were at, or maybe they saw him at an early club gig before Prince was Prince.
I really don’t, though. I never saw him in person or in concert or came in any way close to meeting him. My father represented someone with a legal case that tangentially involved him, the details of which I don’t remember, but he never met him either. Hell, I’ve never even been inside First Avenue.
But I’ve always loved Prince’s music, going back as far as I can remember. He was a staple of the radio, and MTV, both of which I followed obsessively as a kid. And of course, there was always the Minnesota pride angle of it. I’ve written before that in the early ‘80s the Replacements/Husker Du music revolution was going on a few miles from my house, but I was too young to know about it and didn’t even discover the music until I was in my 20s and living in New York. But Prince was different. I appreciated his music, and his larger-than-life persona, even from a very young age.
Which isn’t to say that I totally got it. Even as I saw Prince perform in assless chaps on the Video Music Awards, and listened to the album (“Lovesexy”) where he was naked on the cover, the pure sexuality of his music was certainly not something I grasped when I was that young. Neither was the pure complexity of the songs and genre combinations.
The songs are all great. The public persona, like no one else in history. “Purple Rain” is one of the best music movies of all time- and a clear influence on so many others since- and goes in the Minnesota Movie Holy Trinity along with the Coens’ “Fargo” and “A Serious Man” (Whatever #4 is, it’s a steep drop. “Grumpy Old Men”? “Jingle All the Way”? “Drop Dead Gorgeous”?)
For some reason I always really loved the “Diamonds and Pearls” album, especially the title track. And I’ve always dreamed of writing a book about a financial scandal at a synagogue, called “Thieves in the Temple.” And yes, that Chris Rock joke about how “the only black people in Minnesota are Prince and Kirby Puckett” is funny but highly inaccurate, even now that Prince and Kirby are both gone.
Then there was at the strange fall of 2009. For years I had always joked that Prince should buy the Minnesota Vikings. He was a Minneapolis native, with plenty of money, who favored wearing purple, the NFL wanted more minorities in the ownership ranks and he couldn’t possibly be worse than the Headrick Ten, Red McCombs or the Wilfs. That never happened, but that year, when the Vikings had a contending team with Brett Favre at quarterback, Prince- long a fixture at Timberwolves games but never Vikings ones- started appearing at every game, always on TV. He even wrote the team a new fight song.
Sure, the song (“Purple and Gold”) was terrible, the team never used it again, the Vikings lost yet another NFC Championship Game, and Prince was never seen at a Vikings game after that. But it was one of the team’s most exciting runs ever, made more special for me as my first son Noah was born in the middle of it.
I’ve watched and read the tributes, and listened to the songs on every radio station, just like when Michael Jackson died seven years ago. So I’m especially happy to be heading back to Minnesota on Saturday for Passover- say, is that block party outside First Avenue still going on?