Our connection to celebrity is a strange one, and why their passing affects us more than it probably should can be mysterious. This is some of it, but of all the posts I’ve seen on Facebook since the news came out, the ones I related to the most about this man who had his way with this language like few humans on this earth were “no words.” Part of the problem of writing about the man is he could almost certainly say it so much better. So, um, here’s some lame attempts at some words –mostly from others.
Why he’s so important to me has less to do with his music than the man and the way he lived, flitting in and out of the world like an expert trapeze artist — popping into lives to make them just a little more mystical. Prince’s creations were undeniably magical, capable of revealing new truths after hundreds of listens — I had never quite got the exquisite majesty of the opening line of “Let’s Go Crazy” til someone posted it yesterday (“…get THROUGH this thing called life”). And few seemed to get through life as breezily as Prince Rogers Nelson. He taught himself multiple new instruments in given weeks in his youth. If he liked a band, he would send them a song or drop by to perform on their album. If someone made him laugh or smile or marvel, he would let them know and invite them to his home for an intimate concert. He traveled by pseudonym and lived as a symbol, yet seemed to possess one of the strongest senses of self in the universe. He danced through this world unpredictably on a surreal cloud of his own creation, creating delightful madness around him, yet he was arguably the sanest person in any room. The love of my life asked “do you think Prince was scared as he died?” and that might be the most existentially frightening thought I’ve ever heard. Prince’s spirit was of the sort that should never be extinguished. And yet even he couldn’t run from his destruction.
It’s telling that his greatest legacy is the stories from others, and there are so goddamn many of them. Here’s just a few.
He Made Pancakes…Pancakes!
Let’s start with perhaps the most famous. One of the highlights of Chappelle’s Show was Charlie Murphy’s true stories, mostly from when his brother was the A-List’s A-Lister. Murphy forever connected pancakes with the Purple One in this recreation of a mythical sounding but likely true basketball game. Turns out Prince claims he favors omelettes, but no matter, he even endearingly made the moment a cover for a 2013 single.
…And Then He Left Like The Whole Thing Happened In A Dream
My personal favorite story came from Stevie Nicks, who wrote “Stand Back” inspired by hearing “Little Red Corvette” on the radio, and phoned the Prince she’d yet to meet up about while she was in the studio to record the track. His reaction to this was to drop by that evening, lay down one of the most hauntingly memorable and uncredited synth tracks, then disappear into the night. Click here for Nicks talking to MTV about it, and the song below:
I Was Just In The Middle Of A Dream
The Bangles met up with him when he heard their first critically acclaimed and college loved but pre-hitmaker album, loved it, and decided to write “Manic Monday” for them, and called himself “Christopher.” It became the L.A. band’s first song to scale the Top 40. Here’s 3/5 of the band talking about it.
A Quest For Prince’s Love
?uestlove was asked to DJ and it went, well, Prince-like
Even Prince Can’t Save Whatever’s Between Jess & Nick
When fans like a potential TV show couple, they can talk about it with water-cooler chums or, at most, create videos “shipping” the characters. When Prince liked the pairing of Jess & Nick on New Girl, he decided to guest on the program and “be involved in the show in a real way and I want to help Nick and Jess with their relationship.” Maybe it’s a sign to these two star-crossed lovers that even Prince cannot make their love stay…or maybe it means they’ll ultimately reunite, love each other forever until two plants intertwine from their graves in Season 52. In any case, here’s Schmidt himself talking about how Prince reacted when the actor lost his cool.
You can watch this episode on Netflix.
Part of me feels dirty — and not in the gloriously dirty way a song like “If I Was Your Girlfriend” or “Soft and Wet” or “Gett Off” could make me feel — for writing anything about him, because this is so not about me. But upon reflection, it is — it is about all of us — and how he connected to us and made this world just a little more magical, more tolerable, more wonderful.