The first time I had the opportunity to see #prince, I was just 11. My brother had two tickets to the Purple Rain tour. He went with my moms boyfriend instead. I was too young and alas probably wouldn’t have even understood but MAN was I bummed at my mom, brother etc… About 5 years ago when they announced the Oakland Arena shows I jumped to grab a ticket for the first night. Spent WAY More money than I had any business spending, put a crew together including inflatable-guitar-wielding Steve Kirchner Amy Pitner John Miles Aimee Miles Andrea Lundquist and we went…. and were BLOWN AWAY. By Prince, by Larry, by Sheila E, but yeah, mainly Prince. Himself. That singular, once in a lifetime of lifetimes talent. I quickly scooped up tickets to the next two nights and was therefore late on rent that month. Yeah Prince, I almost lost my apartment for you.
Later on I had the chance to see him at DNA, heck I had my ticket and was in line to get in, but fighting the flu, and facing a long wait in the cold to get into a hot crowded club, I sold my ticket. I also could have had a ticket to see him a few weeks ago and declined. I felt like three nights at Oakland Arena were enough for now and I’d always have a chance again. Sure, I’ll take any chance I can to see George Clinton, and Willie Nelson, but Prince Rogers Nelson is young and in the height of his powers. We really thought we had more time.
Prince was the personification of everything our species has learned about music to date. About classical training and instrumental virtuosity. About hard times making for deep soul. About the gorgeous anger of black rock. About the unrelenting courage of soul music. About the deeply erotic pulse of the funk.
And this more than anything, about the voice being the greatest instrument ever invented. Prince with a piano was an angel. Prince with a guitar was a devil. But Prince’s voice was the voice of a god himself. It was that uncompromising voice, and the incredibly courageous and creative songs that sprung from it, that are our greatest loss.
It may sound like an exaggeration, but I believe this firmly. Prince was the greatest single musician in American history, by any standard you choose to apply. Musicianship. Virtuosity. Vision. Songwriting breadth, depth, and quality. Importance to the business of music. Relevance and quality from the very beginning to the very end of his career. Pick any standard and the answer is PRINCE. Only Bruce Springsteen is even in the conversation with him, and Bruce would probably be the first to admit that its not even a conversation.
At this point we usually say “Rest in Peace” or something like it but I would rather hope Prince does not rest. I want Prince to continue to rock, to agitate, to relentlessly innovate, to fight for his right to express his musical and personal beliefs. Witness Jehovah, the coming of musical royalty. Raise your voices in joy.