I’ve been mesmerized by Prince since I was 13. I remember watching Purple Rain over and over again – just as fast as that tape could rewind, I’d hit play.
At the time, I was too young to comprehend what sex appeal meant – but looking back that’s exactly why I was enthralled. There was something about him I couldn’t get enough of. In the teenage vernacular of the times, I probably used words like fine or babe because that’s how teens account for attraction. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized his appeal had very little to do with looks. It had to do with uniqueness, talent, edginess, rawness. Intangible qualities I rarely experienced. Because if I take a step back and look at Prince as a physical specimen only, the appeal fades. What makes him so sexy is the combination of his talents.
As I matured, I outgrew most of my teenage idols. I never outgrew Prince. I mean how could I? He had so much to offer. Regardless of my mood, he had the perfect song for it. He was my instant happy place song, my last mile motivation song, my ultimate sexy time song, my heart-wrenching sadness song, my whatever song. Whatever I was feeling, he had encapsulated in song. His music could be the soundtrack of my entire life.
To be honest, I never thought about him as a person – mostly because of his extremely private life. He was never on any of the magazines I flipped through. I never saw sidebar links to articles about him pop up online. He pretty much stayed out of the news. The only time I ever read or saw anything about him dealt with him as a performer.
This past week I’ve learned a little of what he was like as a person. It’s been a bittersweet education for me. I had no clue about the depths of his philanthropy, his musicianship, his kindness, or his spirituality. I’ve watched multiple performances, read interviews with and about him, listened to a variety of tributes. It’s only a small glimpse, but it’s impressive.
What’s impressed me most, however, has less to do with Prince and more to do with us and our unexpected openness. What’s impressed me most is the breadth of his influence. There’s an almost universal agreement that we lost someone special. For seven days now, social media has become civil again. It’s become, well, social.
When both my pro– and anti-Target friends like and share the same Muppets clip, I notice. When my old school hard rockers and my country music junkies collectively agree he absolutely slayed his guitar solo during the Hall of Fame performance, I notice. When my staunch Trump supporters and my diehard Democrats all change their profile pics, I notice. When those who didn’t admire him simply scroll past a post rather than making a nasty comment, I notice.
It’s refreshing and, in small part, gives me hope. During this deeply divisive time, when an artist who pushes some pretty controversial boundaries is not only respected but revered, we should all notice. We should acknowledge & appreciate that we can all get along.
There are things we can agree on. Or if we don’t agree, we still remember how to play nice. We do have the sociological intellect to see the sum total of a person and not focus on and exploit the parts we don’t like. We can form an objective opinion. We do know how to separate and withhold our ego. We can appreciate diversity. We can be compassionate and rational and accepting. We can be a lot of things we just aren’t anymore. I’d almost forgotten what that was like.
And very sexy.
Thank you, Prince.