Purple Rain came out in 1984. I was seven years old. I had just learned that the man I had called dad my entire life was, in fact, not. Shortly after learning that I was forced to move to Oceana, WV with my mom and "new" dad. Oceana could be described in one word - white. It was lily white, snowflake white, milk and paper white.
We lived in a one bedroom HUD project apartment. My parents were young, irresponsible and in the beginning stages of their soon-to-be crippling drug addictions. I was miserable.
However, I had three saving graces: my bike, my walkman and Prince. Hot damn, did I have Prince. My grandmother, never one to be concerned with labels such as "parental advisory", bought my seven year old self the soundtrack to Purple Rain. I would pop that tape in my Walkman, grab my bike and leave the turmoil of my life, peddling up the mountains and down the hollows of my new hometown for hours on end.
With my pink bike and my purple Prince, I was free. And, although I had no idea what Darling Nikki was actually up to at that time, I did learn about what it felt like when doves cried, how to go crazy and why we should all stand in the purple rain. Simply, I knew what I was listening to was special.
I am in no way unique or special in that Prince touched me or provided the soundtrack for so many aspects of my life, but I will always be eternally thankful that he taught an awkward, homesick, white trash girl about the beauty and magic of music. Prince taught me that it was okay to be different. He taught me to dream. Prince taught me that although my own little pocket of the world may have been covered in white, that the world was out there and it was full of color. And, he taught me to get down with my badass self.
I guess I assumed that he would always be here...and, in many ways he will be, but I still don't think it's fair that he is gone.
Prince, thank you for your genius, your visionary trailblazing and for sharing your rarified air with me that one night in Charlotte. I'm thankful that like Alice Walker, you knew that it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.
You've only been gone for a few hours, but it's been so lonely without you here...because nothing compares 2 U.
- Purple Reign, the Prince tribute by my talented friend Art by Joel Tesch! -