I can not say I was ever the biggest Prince “Super Fan.” Truthfully… I don’t believe I ever actually owned an album.
I was enough of a Church Girl to be completely horrified by many of his lyrics / behaviors. It is equally true that I am also enough of a child of the ’80’s that much of my life has had a soundtrack curated by the Purple One’s hits. Also it’s entirely true that as a musician I have been left speechless in a non-verbal puddle of awe time and time again by the sheer and incomparable genius of The Artist.
And then – there is no denying the absolute power and emotion of the music.
The way it moves you.
And holds you.
And makes you feel…
even when you don’t know what in the world purple rain is…
you know you need to be standing in it. Now.
So – when earlier this week life happened to land Marcus and I in Minneapolis for one evening – the day after Prince passed away – I simply could not miss this life event.
Which is how it came to be that at nearly midnight I was in the back of an Uber speeding out of Minneapolis toward Paisley Park, while the driver filled me in on what he knew of the local hero.
Same stories we’ve heard again and again:
Prince never left behind his hometown, he didn’t become famous and move away, he never forgot where he came from, he stayed invested in his city. He did mammoth amounts of charitable work – with no fanfare. He was incredibly generous.
There were hundreds of cars on the side of the road. Officers and the Fire Department had set up parking areas and things were organized. I honestly didn’t expect that at this time of night there would still be so many people! But they were everywhere – like ants walking the hillside.
Purple balloons and roses covered seemingly every inch of the fencing that surrounds the building we’ve all seen on TV.
People huddled together everywhere. Mourning. Singing. Holding each other. There was a quiet, respectful feeling.
Many were willing to talk – to share their thoughts and memories. Lots of folks seemed to be locals.
I think I was most surprised at how many claimed to have encountered Prince in a public setting… and they all spoke the same way: He was kind. He spoke to their child or their mother. He smiled at the cashier. Things like that.
After a while the driver and I headed home. It was quiet. He left me to my thoughts for a long time – just the night and the highway.
An unexpected death – a person whose name the world knows – a city who feels the loss intensely – strangers who stand on the side of the road in the wee hours of the morning because they feel a kinship…
When the Uber driver opened my door and I got out I reached up and hugged him. I am not sure exactly why – it just felt like we had shared something important.
I slipped as quietly into the room as I could and laid in the dark a long time thinking about things…
It’s not a hard bet to say most of us will never have the cast of Hamilton do a tribute dance for us when we pass. The streets of London won’t light up in our favorite color. And the world won’t know us by only our first name.
But we can still make a difference. People who cross our paths can whisper, “She was kind.”
I mean, at the end of the day – all we really have is the people we touch… the ones we are given. The gifts I have are the people in my life… I can’t leave a vault full of musical creations… But I can leave a heart full of laughter. And memories of love, and thoughtfulness. I won’t be leaving millions of dollars, but I can do my best to leave a million smiles. And look for something every single day that I can indeed give away.
I can’t think of anything more important to leave behind than that.