How can this be? How can another musical icon’s time end so soon? I feel like I just got over David Bowie’s untimely passing, and now Prince. The sting of someone so influential and so unique is definitely something I’m feeling on a level I never thought I’d feel. Is it because this is yet another missed opportunity to see a musical great live? Is it because Prince was merely 57 years old and performed a show just last week? It’s all so overwhelming and confusing, and scary at the same time. There is a growing list of icons leaving Planet Earth in 2016, and it’s only April.
Prince was like Bowie: A controversial musical genius and fashion icon. He did what he wanted (including changing his name to a symbol), and fans loved every minute of it. Prince’s music crossed genres in so many ways from R&B to pop to rock. All in all, most will agree: his music was just plain good. An early Prince memory was a bus ride home from Disneyland when I was in the 8th grade, singing songs from the radio. One song we went back to over and over was “Little Red Corvette”. I wasn’t truly aware of what it all meant, I just knew it was a great song.
Since I’m still trying to process the news, I’ll just post about how Prince influenced my fledgling dreams of being a rock star when I was a teen:
I wrote a couple of songs when I was in junior high and high school. I fancied myself to be like Depeche Mode, making the keyboard my instrument of choice. My first one was a Casio, which I chose as a Christmas present. I would set up a mock recording studio in the privacy of my bedroom with a tape deck and a microphone. I finished my first recorded song and presented it live in one of my English classes my senior year. I recall being scared out of my wits because I was not only performing live in front of my friends, but I was putting my creative soul out there for judgement. It went very well, and my friends were so supportive.
In my first few years of college, I wrote many songs, but recorded only one demo. I wrote a song called “Destiny’s Arms”, which was a duet ballad. It was inspired by “The Arms of Orion” by Prince from the 1989 Batman soundtrack, also a duet with Sheena Easton. I love the idea love prevailing above all, no matter where, when, time or space. I recorded “Destiny’s Arms” with one of my former teachers in his mini-home studio over the period of about a month. I even sent the demo tape and lyrics to be copyrighted at the Library of Congress. I never sent my demo anywhere, but in hindsight, I wish I had sent it to Prince. I don’t know if he would have ever responded, since it was a basic little love song. But I wish I had sent it just so he knew that a 19-year-old kid in San Diego found inspiration from one of his works of art.
Farewell dear Prince, rest in peace.
In the heart of a sleepless moon
I’ll be with you forever
This is my destiny
‘Till my life is through
The Arms of Orion by Prince
(Top image from my personal collection)