A piece of Minnesota died today. Prince brought a cool factor to our state that can’t be matched by our snow and ice. He put the Minneapolis music scene on the map when I was in high school. I first heard him on the radio in 1983 while cruising up and down the main street of my small town with my best friend. It was love at first sound. We cranked down the windows of my friend’s mom’s red Buick and pretended that we were in our own “Little Red Corvette” whenever that song came on. We loved that Prince gave us a party anthem with “1999,” because that year seemed sooo far away and we wanted to party forever.
There was so much that I loved about Prince. Of course I loved singing along and dancing to his many songs that topped the charts. I enjoyed the poetry of his lyrics. I was so impressed by his mastery of vocals and so many instruments. I adored his funky style and especially his purple wardrobe (I wore my own all-purple wardrobe in high school before I was aware of Prince, so I liked that he also appreciated the power of purple). I thought it was so cool that Prince purified Apollonia in the Minnesota River near my home when he was filming Purple Rain. What I loved most about Prince was his spirit. It was readily apparent to me when I first heard his music that he was a creative genius who was fearless. These traits not only allowed him to make music, it allowed him to reinvent it.
Prince once said, “A strong spirit transcends rules.” And I say, “Yes!!” to that. I believe that is the very key that is necessary for any creative person to open the door to real success. Prince opened door after musical door, creating something completely new each time, as he let his genius lead the way through his music career.
As his career unfolded, Prince continued providing a musical backdrop for my life. I bonded with a rebellious girl over Prince’s music at a conservative college I attended in the Twin Cities. We violated the school’s lifestyle statement, which prohibited dancing, while jamming to “Let’s Go Crazy” on the sidewalk by the school’s seminary. My friend would frequently go to First Avenue with her fake ID to break the school’s rules by partying and drinking, but especially to be able to dance without inhibition. It was her ultimate wish that Prince would drop by First Avenue when she was there so she could dance with him. I would have joined her if I could have, but I was only 17 and she said I had too much of a baby face for her friend to get me a fake ID. Someone from our dorm told school authorities about my friend’s scandalous desire to dance with Prince and she was kicked out of our school near the end of our freshman year.
As a Minnesotan and a music lover, throughout my adult life I enjoyed following Prince’s latest music, anything that could be gleaned about his personal life, news of his spontaneous appearances around the Twin Cities, and coverage of his Paisley Park After Dark concerts. Even when he changed his name to that symbol, I applauded his artistic freedom. My appreciation for Prince was underscored a couple years ago when I found out that my college-age daughter and her friend were also big fans. I was impressed that Prince was able to successfully connect with multiple generations and that we could bond over our appreciation for him. Going to one of Prince’s concerts was on my bucket list. I thought I had plenty of time to do that because he was right here in Minnesota and I was sure he would live forever.
I am among the Prince fans that are devastated by the untimely loss of this gentle genius soul from Minnesota – and all that he could have continued to contribute to the creative scene. Those of us with creative spirits who are mourning Prince can honor his life – and inspire others – by finding our own unique way of reinventing the world through transcendence of the rules.
Party on in peace, my creative purple Prince.
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© 2016 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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