A few days ago, the headline on my Facebook trending newsfeed shocked me. “Prince dies at 57.” I stared at the words in disbelief. It didn’t seem real.
My mind automatically drifted back to the first time I heard Prince. It was at a neighbor’s house in 1984. A friend of mine pulled me into her older sister’s room while it was empty. After propping a chair against the door, we eagerly searched the room for her sister’s secret stash of inappropriate records. Eventually, we stumbled upon a new album under her mattress. It was called Purple Rain. There was a picture of some guy wearing a purple jacket on it, perched on a purple motorcycle. Neither of us did much more than glance at the cover. Giggling, we pulled the large vinyl disc out of the slip cover and slapped it on the record player.
The first song immediately caught our attention. It was called “Let’s Go Crazy.” We played it at least ten times, while dancing around the room like maniacs. Laughing and jumping on her sister’s bed, we followed the song’s advice and went “crazy” until her sister entered the room with a ferocious scowl and kicked us out of her room.
If a 10-year old could be hooked on something, then I was hooked. I had no idea what the deeper meaning behind the lyrics was. I only knew that I had to have that song and its pulsating rhythm. Over the next few months, I saved up my small weekly allowance and eventually bought my first record single. Looking back, I’m actually amazed that my parents allowed me to purchase that record. I suspect that they didn’t really understand the meaning behind the lyrics either.
As a member of Generation X, I grew up listening to Prince. I enjoyed his music, but I don’t claim to be a die hard fan. There were other artists I preferred. So why did his untimely death affect me so much this past week?
I’m in my forties. More specifically, forty-two years old. For me, the biggest difference between youth and middle age is nostalgia. Well, that and metabolism. But the death of an icon like Prince doesn’t just signify the end of an era for him. It also forces those of us who grew up with his music to look back in time and realize how far we’ve traveled in life. It forces us to question our own lives and to wonder if there’s still time to make a difference in this world.
And so, I’ll say goodbye to Prince Rogers Nelson. Although your time was cut short, you made a difference in this world. Your music is forever etched into the lives of Generation X. Thank you. Rest In Peace.