21 April 2016

Prince 1958-2016

“Albums…remember those? They still matter. Like books and black lives, albums still matter.” –Prince

“A little bit faded, a little bit jaded
Don't want to stop, won't be persuaded
To write words I can't believe in,
To see my face on a video screen”
“27” by Passenger

I’ve always had a soft place for singer/songwriters, of independent artists in music, TV, movies and books. I believe that true genius lies in people who can think and live outside the box, who break the rules, who offer a different way at thinking. Who don’t sell their souls for the successes.

But these folks are not generally known as profit generators, something that is thought to be more important than creativity. We see it presented everyday in every facet of multimedia, where mediocrity is praised and intellectual ideas, critical thinking skills, and new concepts that can change people’s firm belief are the work of the devil. We watch game shows like The Voice and American Idol not because people of talent are destined to win, but because the ones who win offer drama and ability to be molded into a profit chain. 

Prince was a man full of conviction in a world that made fun of him, whom thought his life was too decadent, too unusual for the “real world” (much like the late Michael Jackson before him). But he knew –along with his adoring fans- that music he created was produced from the soul and not bottom line. I also think he understood that not everything was brilliant, but it did not matter. Music can stir a person to great joy, but others will see it as some sort of horror. But that does not matter, it shouldn’t matter. 

His battle for creative control is legendary (and sadly, a lot of artists continue this conflict), for he understood that to be a musician, to have that ability to effect the lives of millions is an honor. And he took his responsibility as a creative genius seriously, even as Big Business began to grow weary of music they thought was too narrow, too difficult to sell, who thought his theatrical performances where too surreal and his fans too odd. So he fought back and while it took a while -and after giving a purple gloved middle finger to the collective soul stealers of music industry- he resurrected his career and became more popular than ever. 

His passing, like David Bowie, is truly a great loss. Both musicians turned the music scene on their heads with their gender-bending acts, with words and music that showed a great depth. They knew their audience more than any record company could comprehend and that’s what makes them the best at what they did, which makes their loss this year even more tragic. 

Their music will live forever, of course, but losing artists of such distinctive quality at such young ages, at the height of their creativeness, is immeasurable. Michael Jackson, David Bowie, and now Prince, all now pages in a history book. But we’ll never forget you, because for one bright and shiny moment, you gave the world everything you had, and it was good. It was great.

It was legendary.

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