In the two months since his death, Prince has become more popular than ever. I have loved and admired this man and his talent for 30 years.
While people worldwide mourn his passing and scramble to find a suitable replacement(impossible), my focus is on honoring the legacy of his music and the bravery and courage he possessed.
In a world that requires your soul in exchange for any bit of recognition or attention, Prince showed us how to get and maintain attention based solely on talent and a dedication to craft.
No artist could combine sexuality, redemption, social commentary and religion like this man.
Here are seven reasons Prince will always Rock and Rule.
1. In “Controversy”, he forces us to play with identity and the fluidity of how one can change, straddle worlds and do it with no self-consciousness and to a good beat. Am I black or white; am I straight or gay? Do I believe in God, do I believe in me? Some people want to die so they can be free; People call me rude; I wish we all were nude; I wish there were no black and white; I wish there were no rules.
2. “Ronnie, Talk to Russia” is an eighties plea to eliminate Nuclear weapons before we destroy the planet and one another. Ronnie, Talk to Russia- Don’t you blow up my world.
3. Purple Rain– the movie, song and album confronts us with an artist struggling with both self actualization and offering a paramour care with the lyrics- I never wanted to see you cry; I only want to see you dancing in the Purple Rain.
4. On the brilliant and way ahead of its time, Around the World in a Day, Prince serves us Middle Eastern influences while urging us in the title track : Open your heart, open your mind a train is leaving all day. A wonderful trip through our time and laughter is all you pay. The entire album is wonderful romp through, sex, forgiveness, redemption and social uplift. “Pop Life” quickly and disturbingly reminds us that “everybody wants a thrill “. In “America”, he states: Little sister making minimum wage living in a one-room jungle-monkey cage. Can’t get over; she’s almost dead. She may not be in the black but she’s happy she ain’t in the red.
5. “Parade” returned Prince to our movie theaters with two very different and equally sensual songs. “Kiss” brought us funk and longing with a determination to give in to a full relationship complete with surrender and a nod to building relationships beyond superficiality- “you don’t have to be rich to rule my world you don’t have to be cool to be my girl.” “Sometimes it Snows in April” (my personal favorite) is so haunting that it breaks my heart no matter how many times I hear it. A simple arrangement with absolutely stunning vocals, this track reminds us that things in life don’t always go our way and the mystery and joy of life is found in places that leave us raw, vulnerable and transformed.
6. “Sign of the Times” is his absolute best. Perfection. Each track on this double slice of heaven was pure magic. Did I mention that like Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” was a double album. There is no way you can listen to this double disc and not hear the prophetic call that would be the 80’s and beyond. Released in 1987 with an accompanying concert video, it begins with the title track- In France a skinny man died of a big disease with a little name. As if this was not enough in the same song he points out that our government can send people to the moon but we can’t figure out how to have enough for everyone to eat. He adds a wink to lust and the chance at monogamy when he tells a paramour in “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”- that he may be qualified for a one night affair but he could never take the place of her man. What about his usual blend of sensuality, sexuality and religion- “Adore”: If God struck me blind your beauty I’d still see.
7. “He believed young people could change the world.” This statement was given by Van Jones the co-founder of the YesWeCode initiative (an organization dedicated to ensuring that 100,000 low income youth learn to write code). Prince began supporting this initiative in an effort to create a generation of self sufficient youth ready to lead and create in the 21st century.