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« Wilding Out at Tribeca | Main | Tribeca: Custody »
Thursday
Apr212016

Farewell to the Prince

The beautiful ones,
You always seem to lose.

-"The Beautiful Ones"

Glenn here with some words about today's very sad news about the death of iconic musician and sometime actor/director, Prince Rogers Nelson. “Purple Rain” wasn’t the first time I ever heard Prince. Hell, I wasn’t even alive when the all things purple took over the zeitgeist in the summer of 1984. No, the first time I think I was consciously aware of who I was listening to was in 1991 when I laid eyes upon a video for the single “Diamonds and Pearls” on early morning music television. I was young, but already obsessed with music; making sure I watched the top forty countdown on Rage and recording my favourite videos from Video Hits onto an over-growing pile of VHS. I had been clocked into Madonna for a year or so by this stage, and Michael Jackson was regular fixture of my music listening habits with “Black & White” becoming a pop culture phenomenon at roughly the same time Prince came into my world. He was so different to anybody I'd seen before - his small frame and wild hair so at odds with the image of maleness that, especially growing up in suburban Australia, was preoccupied with overwhelmingly over-the-top masculinity.

If you ever need proof of some sort of other-worldly intervention in play in this life, then consider those three musicians were all born within just a couple months of each other. (More after the jump)

It was around this time that Prince went quiet among the world of chart music that tends to dominate a young listener’s scope barring the occasional "Most Beautiful Girl in the World". So it wasn’t until years later when in my teen years that I finally discovered the back catalogue of music that I could very well equate to archeologists discovering Tutankhamun’s tomb for the first time. How does one not hear “1999” or “Kiss” or “Raspberry Beret” or “Little Red Corvette” and not sit up and take notice? I would discover Purple Rain around the age of 15. It was instantly my favourite album ever and remains as such to this day. I purchased a brand new vinyl copy before vinyl had returned to the cultural sphere. I had it framed and it currently sits directly opposite my bed. It’s typically the first thing I see in the morning. I can see it right now as I type this.

I won’t go much further into Prince’s music career as it’s far too wide to cover with any authority in a piece such as this – and that’s before getting into the Prince songs recorded by others; Vanity 6’s “Nasty Girl”, Chaka Kahn’s “I Feel For You”, Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”, Martika’s “Love… Thy Will Be Done”, Sheila E’s “The Glamorous Life” and so on. I did, however, want to briefly discuss Purple Rain. The 1984 film that Prince starred in and gave birth to his Oscar-winning soundtrack is a personal favourite of mine. As a drama it doesn’t always work, sure (there’s really no way anybody could watch the lake strip scene and not be confronted by the misogyny), but as a musical in works in many of the same ways most classic musicals do. The songs truly do help tell a story, even if they appear to be merely be performed pop songs. The musical sequences themselves are stunning, too, often bathed in deep neon blues and reds, choreographed spectacularly through a haze of eroticism and danger, and performed with gusto by a genius in his prime. Watching this movie was eye-opening – and I don’t even mean because of “Darling Nikki” – and I have continued to love it unconditionally ever since.

Unlike David Bowie, who built an entire second career around film not only as an actor but as an inspiration for filmmakers across decades (which I wrote about after his death in January), Prince’s music doesn’t appear in films often. Having said that, he will forever be the man behind the music of Batman and Showgirls so let's stop and think about that for a moment. And certainly not many musicians can lay claim to having had Sandra Bernhard perform one of their songs in nothing but pasties and an American Flag-themed thong. Prince’s other cinematic efforts, Under the Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge, inspire less passion, but maybe one day they too will get Nigerian remakes like Purple Rain had with Christopher Kirkley’s Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red in It.

Oh, Prince. You haven’t caused us any sorrow. You gave us so much that we are unworthy.

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Reader Comments (22)

Here in Minneapolis there's an all-night dance party outside and inside First Ave -- where the majority of Purple Rain was set/filmed -- to celebrate the career of our local hero. Prince and First Ave were so tied together in local mythology that I expect it will be massively attended.

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJames from Ames

I wrote a piece on him in my music blog: http://thevoidgoround.blogspot.com/2016/04/prince-1958-2016.html

The wound that I had about Bowie just ached even more. Right now, I hope those are talking about great jazz records. I really fucking hate 2016.

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Under the Cherry Moon gave us the acting debut of Kristin Scott Thomas, so it has some merit.
That roll call of Artists who covered Prince's songs says it all - genius. RIP.

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

...............

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

(there’s really no way anybody could watch the lake strip scene and not be confronted by the misogyny)

Jerome puts a woman in a dumpster and you're concern with the exposed breasts of Appollonia?

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I once saw a burlesque show at First Ave where a woman stripped off Prince garb to "Darling Nikki". I met Willam Belli that night and later found out his favorite Prince song was "Little Red Corvette".

I am from Minneapolis and his loss is insurmountable and surreal. As mentioned before, First Avenue is having all night dance parties all weekend. I never met him, but everyone here in the arts is one degree from someone who has. The fact that he stayed here is rather unique. It's like if Madonna stayed in Detroit.

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjakey

2016 is the worst. And it's only April.

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEz

The Astor Theatre in Melbourne is putting on a special screening of PURPLE RAIN next Saturday. I imagine many places will be doing similar.

I never had as much of a personal connection to Bowie despite enjoying a lot his music. But Prince... Prince, Bruce, Madonna, Dolly, Cher... those are the ones that are going to hurt the greatest.

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Purple Rain is such a towering achievement it's almost unfathomable. That album...
and so many other strong career moments, too. So glad he got an Oscar for it

Plus, he was the first to give us Kristin Scott Thomas (Under the Cherry Moon - film debut!)

It's unthinkable that Madonna is the only surviving member of that born in the spring/summer of 1958 trio of greats. 57 is way too young to go.

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

This news was just so sad. "Purple Rain" and "Sign of the Times" were such huge landmarks for me in adolescence, and haven't faded since. I'd like to imagine if heaven exists that everyone up there was just chilling and all of the sudden he showed up and instantly began the "Dearly beloved..." of "Let's Go Crazy" and it's been a non-stop party since.

Also: will Maya Rudolph bring back Princess, her all-girl Prince cover band??

April 22, 2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Batdance was my introduction. I had the video taped off the UK Saturday afternoon show 'The Chart Show', (on the same VHS as my copy of Watership Down). And who can forget his version of Starfish & Coffee on The Muppets.
Growing up in suburban England, getting to grips with sexuality, gender norms etc, we all have our artists we connect with, and identify with. A true legend, genuine sadness. So happy I got to see him in 2007.

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJB

Nathaniel-

I suspect with Madonna's diet and workout regime, she will live til 104. :-)


RIP Dear Prince

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

Sign o' the Times is a top 10 album for me. Purple Rain is close. He was just amazing, the perfect blend of rock, soul, funk, and blues.

And movie trivia: At 9 years old, Purple Rain was the first rated R movie I saw! Bought a ticket to Ghostbusters and sneaked in with my friend to Purple Rain.

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I watched Under The Cherry Moon for the first time last night. (Rentable on Amazon and iTunes.) What a GREAT way to celebrate Prince's iconoclastic life. It's a realllly entertaining movie -- campy but self-aware, not taking itself too seriously but making a semi-serious point about living freely and joyfully. The pairing of the classically gorgeous, very young Kristin Scott Thomas (having a blast, it seems) and the one-of-a-kind, unclassifiable sexuality of Prince makes for a screwball chemistry. Michael Ballhaus's b&w cinematography is lush and expressive (Best Shot worthy??), and needless to say, Prince's soundtrack is fucking great. I think this one is ripe for rediscovery: less of an also-ran curiosity and more of a genuine entertainment in its own right.

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

You don't have to be cool to rule my world - is a favorite lyric. Thought it was very very cool when I first heard it.

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commentersummer

You don't have to be cruel to rule my world.

April 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

"She walked in through the out door" was always my favourite lyric. Nothing says effortless cool like that.

April 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

prayer circle for madonna and kate bush. the two other 1958 legends and icons.
rip prince

April 23, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermcv

didn't like everything Prince did but I found some songs I really liked. So much talent, a genius. Wish I could have attended at least one of his concerts in my lifetime. He is no longer here. Well, I love "Dear Mr. Man" and the unreleased version of "Hold Me". Such beautiful music. RIP Mr. Nelson. Hope we will finally hear the truth of what really happened to u from the parties of the elite and the set-ups before they got rid of you. What does your sister have to say about all of this? Is she afraid to let us know? I wonder does she feel the same way. I pray that you are Jesus' hands now. I noticed you were really searching, but you went to Mr. Grahamm. I dont think he was the right one though. Jesus Christ said "follow me" He's the one to follow. I'm not Jesus, but HE knows the heart. Your Heart. My heart. I hope you made it through. I pray that I make it though to see Jesus. HE is my Lord and Saviour.

September 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPatty B

Well, here it is June 6, 2017 and I feel no better after reading almost all I can about Prince Rogers Nelson's death. Something doesn't feel right about this case and I doubt if I'll ever find out the truth about what happened to Prince. Sounds like a set-up, even by his so-called close friend or family and friends. Only God and the killers know the truth. I still like his music. So much I haven't even heard and probably never will get to hear it all, ever. Well, like Prince once said about himself: "I am music". I feel that Prince was a walking music man. He couldn't help it. Music was in his bones. So long Mr. Nelson. I pray still that you found Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

June 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPatty B

I am an old bird (woman). Still doing a lot of reading and you're never too old to learn. When I started reading about the occult and Prince, reading drew me into some deeper stuff. I knew in the Bible that satan was mentioned, but I never really took that all in seriously. To read that a lot of celebrities worshipped satan, did hand signs, etc., opened my eyes to new things. Some of these satanic things are scary. I wonder if Prince ran into some scary stuff. I also wonder if he worshipped satan. I remember him saying on one of Oprah's tv shows that there was another person living inside of him. That's scary too. I could be so wrong, but if there's someone else living inside of you, I think of demons. That's scary too. Then I wondered if you have a demon living inside of you, is it too late for your soul to be saved? Whew! I'd better let this go for now. Jesus casted out demons so I know that demons are real. Gotta rest my mind from this scary stuff for a while.

June 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPatty B

To hear of Prince maybe being in a blood sacrifice? I would like to know what is a blood sacrifice? A satanic blood sacrifice? Maybe someone out here can explain this to me. I certainly hope and pray that Prince was not a blood sacrifice for the elite (higher ups). If so, it was satanic and not the kind where the name of Jesus was used. I'm not happy about this. Give a concert at the WH and later on, you're dead. Well, God is still good, just and kind. But HE is to still give out justice in the end to all who are good or evil. I would rather be on the good side.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPatty B

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