I remember when I first fell in love with Prince. I was 16, struggling with learning about who I was, who I wanted to be. His music was soothing and I found my place in his following. He didn’t want to be like anyone else, and he wasn’t. His music was honest, conflicted, sometimes even naughty, but it was the music that was brave enough to be authentic.
Around the world, people are mourning the death of a musical legend. We are surrounded by his music, touched by his photos, and, for many fans like myself, we are trying to figure out why his tragic end hurts so much.
My love of Prince was one-sided, but it was real. For me and for many people, Prince’s music helped to shape my identity, helped me to embrace who I am and even to explore sexuality. It was his quirks that made him human while his music made him a megastar. From wearing his lifted shoes to changing his name to a symbol, Prince embraced his oddness and made it alright to be different. He proved that you could live through pain and hardship and it didn’t have to own you.
But sometimes in his quiet years, we often wondered what was really going on inside his Paisley Park compound. Was he writing more? Was he alright? Where was he?
Then he would emerge from his retreat with new music, something different and something powerful. I often followed his later tour dates, thinking that I would love to see him in concert. He was on my “someday” list of dream concerts.
Prince was beautiful in an exotic, mysterious, erotic kind of way as he sang, “Something that you’ll never understand.” He broke the rules and his music inspired others to embrace their sexuality, no matter what it may be. He was quiet and charming, and his perceived shyness drew millions in to want to know more about this man.
I love looking back at the collections of his music and hearing the stories he told. He was open about his pansexuality, about his struggles with religion and even his frustrations with fame. His guitar solos were exquisite and emotional, and you felt that he was truly sharing his moment with his listeners.
No, I didn’t know him. But in a way, I did. In a way, Prince knew exactly the right thing to say when I needed him. He was my feel-better guy, my romantic flirt, my naughty friend. He was the one that I cried to when my heart was broken.
Music that really touches us, embeds in our souls — those artists are given a special place. We fantasize about who they are, perhaps daydream of fantasy lives inspired by Prince’s erotic melodies, and we make them a part of our lives.
When we lose someone magical, like Prince, life seems a little shorter. We face our own mortality.
Like the loss of anything important, it will take time to recover from this moment and find our way back to normal without thinking about his loss and the great music that inspired millions.
I am still left feeling like I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to face the fact that everyone dies and there is nothing anyone can do about it. I don’t want to be, as he sang, in a “world that is so cold.”