prince tribute
My Bitches, Pop Culture

So This is What It Sounds Like When Doves Cry: Remembering Prince

Oh my bitches, we’ve gotta broken heart again — don’t we?

First Bowie, now Prince. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that it’s been a devastating few months for humankind.

These artists changed the landscape, the style, the conversation, the sentiment and the funk.

Permanently, and hallefuckingluyah for that.

I could spout a ton of information about Prince Rogers Nelson, aka Prince, aka The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, but of course we can get detailed bios and intimate details of the storied life of the legendary performer elsewhere.

Here on Bitch’in Suburbia, as we gather together to get through this thing called life, I’m going to share a few memories of and thoughts about Prince in hopes that you’ll do the same in the comments.

Those of us GenXers that were in high school or college got turnt on by Price through Purple Rain — the movie and the soundtrack.

For me, the film came out the summer between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college. Of life’s many transitions, that one was a real doozy. Knowing I wasn’t a child anymore, but not necessarily ready to stand on my own two feet, I could TOTALLY relate to Prince’s character, “The Kid,” who was also a crazy jumble of angst and drama as he attempted to break free of his familial bonds, while also trying to be a star and score a hot bae to boot.

OK, maybe our story specifics weren’t the same, and maybe I did overdo it trying to look like Apollonia (lemme just say the “freshman 15” and corsets weren’t the exact best combo platter) BUT Purple Rain was very literally on constantly throughout my freshman year.

The first picture I took with my BBFs from college I made photo copies of and scrawled on it, “The Beautiful Ones.”

Our first road trip together was to Detroit (OK, not Minneapolis but close enough) to see Prince play a tiny theater downtown. We rented a Caddy (I’m not kidding), pulled on our lace gloves, and danced our asses off. The smell of sweaty Aquanet will forever remind me of Prince.

That and the moment I lost whatever innocence I had left watching him embody everything amazing about human sexuality when he played “Darlin’ Nikki.”

As soon as we got home, it was a headfirst dive into Prince’s early works, like Controversy and Dirty Mind. 

Made you (me) wanna be his lover — I mean, c’mon, I can’t even… witness: “Head,” “Sister,” and “Do It All Night.”

SO DAMN GOOD.

But Prince wasn’t just about sex; he was also deeply spiritual, quite an activist, and also fully ahead of his time. In fact, the song, “Controversy” was my fave then and still is — check out how the lyrics, written in 1981, are completely relevant today:

I just can’t believe all the things people say
Controversy
Am I black or white, am I straight or gay?
Controversy
Do I believe in god, do I believe in me?
Controversy
Controversy
Controversy
I can’t understand human curiosity
Controversy
Was it good for you, was I what you wanted me to be?
Controversy
Do you get high, does your daddy cry?
Controversy
Controversy
Controversy

Do I believe in god, do I believe in me?
Some people want to die so they can be free
I said life is just a game, we’re all just the same, do you want to play?
Yeah, oh yeah
Controversy
Controversy
Controversy
Controversy
Controversy
Controversy….

Listen
People call me rude, I wish we all were nude
I wish there was no black and white, I wish there were no rules… (Repeat, baby, repeat!)

Don’t you wish that too? AND FOR GD’s sake, DON’T YOU WANT TO PLAY?

Not to be a starfucker, but I once met Wendy Melvoin (as in, “Wendy? | Yes Lisa | Is the water warm enough? | Yes Lisa | Shall we begin? | Yes Lisa) and almost had a nervous breakdown from beingthisclose to The Revolution (now just Wendy & Lisa).

Sitting in the softball stands watching the Lady Bombers play ball, I became friends with the legendary music manager/producer/music industry honcho, Bob Cavallo, who managed Prince through the mid-80s. I won’t say I bullied him for details about that heyday, but I feel like the word “badger” was about right. Bob confirmed to me all the genius, and perhaps a touch of madness, that fueled the artist when he was actually known as Prince.

As a grown ass woman, whenever I need a fix of happiness I grab some Prince. The last time I saw him play, five years ago at LA’s Forum, he was just as nimble and raunchy and fabulous as ever before.

And just last December, I donned a raspberry beret (or something like that) and witnessed the brilliance that is Princess, Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum’s Prince tribute band.

Less than a week ago, I sweated my balls off spinning with $hirley @ Blazing Saddles to the entire Purple Rain soundtrack.

In full Apollonia make-up, and my 1985 Purple Rain tour t-shirt.

Singing at the top of my goddamn lungs.

These are all just random thoughts that keep flowing through my brain as I try to process the grief in losing yet another beloved idol.

There is actually a scientific reason that we’re so nostalgic for the tunes of our youth, by the way. Music in general stimulates our cerebrum (or did we learn NOTHING from “Baby Mozart”), so it follows that when our brain is doing the most dynamic growth of our lives, between the ages of 12 and 22, certain jams get stuck in our neural grooves. (Or grooviness, depending on your artists of choice.) (For more on this note, check out this excellent 2014 piece on Neural Nostalgia in Slate.)

What cements the music there are the emotions and the hormones that make indelible connections to those memories.

And for that I’d like to thank Prince for paving the way to my holy alliance with getting down and getting super fucking funky.

Prince didn’t need to die so he could be free.

But he did always say he would die 4 u.

And me.

So if you see me mounting a purple motorcycle, my ruffles and gigantic teased hair flying in the wind, just know that I’m working on being not so damn human… I’d like to be a dove — all conscious, all love. I mean, wouldn’t you?

All we need to do is to believe.

So believe this my bitches — we are all much better off for having grooved in the time of Prince’s Purple Reign.

May he rest in diamonds, pearls, perhaps a little red corvette, maybe a hotel lobby… and yes, in peace.

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