Peter Hentges (jbru) wrote,
Peter Hentges

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On the passing of Prince

I'm a member of the generation that remembers MTV played music videos 24/7. I have mixed-up images in my head of the videos for "Little Red Corvette" and "1999." Prince stroking his thigh as he sings about the "lion in my pocket," and a quick cut to a close-up of the fingers of one of the women in his band dancing over the keys following "forgive me if it goes to fast."

But "Purple Rain" was the album that was the anthem of high school. I acted as DJ for high-school dances and I'd always start them off with "Let's Go Crazy." Because, come on, of course I did. After the spiritual intro, the beat would start. Prince reminds us that "In this life, you're on your own." Then two beats of a funky chord. Rising riff. Two more beats. Then the instruction: "And if the elevator tries to break you down? Go crazy. Punch a higher floor." And we're off. "Woo!"

I'd leap off the stage on to the gym floor and dash into the group of mostly-girls dancing along. No partner. No fear. This is my music.

At least until I started thinking too much. Was anyone watching? Was she? Was that a smile? Was she laughing? Were they all laughing at me?

OK, the solo has started and the song will end before long. Need to get back to the safety of the turntables and cue up the next song. Then I can retreat back out of the lights. Sit back and just spin the tunes. Maybe I'll get back out on the floor for "Safety Dance."

I remember that we had a new student that year. A kid whose family moved in from Chicago. He was cool. He was artistic. He could actually dance.

During a slow period in Chemistry or Physics one day, he was in my lab group and took some time to draw my portrait. He handed it to me and I self-consciously added a few scraggly beard hairs, unable to accept that I was as beautiful as he had seen me. He took the portrait back and added to it, giving me a prescient longer beard and hair and then added a profusion of disco chains around my neck and adding some shade to my glasses. It was good work. But I regretted then and still regret today that I didn't have the courage to honor his art. To accept what he saw or at least to accept that he saw it.

So as Prince leaves us, I reflect that I've matured a lot since then. I'm a lot more comfortable in my skin. I think there's still a little room to be even more courageous about who I am and one of the ways to do that is to honor what my friends see in me.
Tags: music, prince

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