The joy of Prince

PurpleRain

I got up this morning with another post in mind, but sitting down at my desk, all I want to do is listen to Prince music. I think Prince might be the first musical artist I was ever really aware of. My mom loved the song “Raspberry Beret” and would crank it in the car when it was on the radio, and we’d dance around her bedroom to it in the house.

She wore a
Raspberry beret
The kind you find in a second hand store
Raspberry beret
And if it was warm she wouldn’t wear much more

I was five. I didn’t really get the song but the chorus was easy and catchy and I was able to picture the hat that he was singing about, and it seemed pretty to me. That was the thing about Prince’s music — like any really good writing, it was visual. Colorful.

Raspberry beret.

Purple rain.

An ocean of violets in bloom.

Little red corvette. 

You could see the music. You still can, fortunately, which is the great thing about artists: they leave you something when they go.

Not all artists do it with such joy, though. Prince seemed to delight in life and music, whether it was composing with the muppets, playing pingpong with Jimmy Fallon, or just getting dressed to perform. He reveled in sensations, unabashedly embracing the rich textures (velvet, satin, sparkle, paisley, polka dots) that most of us relegate to trims and edges. That’s something to celebrate, simply because so few people are able… to silence the censors, the critics, and even our own judgmental voices and just wear purple head-to-toe one day if it feels good. Prince did what felt good, and he made us feel good too.

Perhaps some measure of the joy in a life is how remembered when it’s over. Last night’s Brooklyn block party hosted by Spike Lee and the many like it around the world are telling. It must have been a joyful life if the only way that feels right to mourn it is dancing.

There are many tributes around the web today, but if you just feel like listening to some Prince classics, IHeartRadio has a feed running today.

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