This Is What It Feels Like When Doves Cry
So many memories come rushing back whenever I hear a Prince song. Every tune is distinctly Prince, and each stands on its own as a testament to his craftsmanship as a musician. Any part of his work, be it lyrics, vocals, or instrumentation, could have made him an icon. Combined, he has been a force to be reckoned with.
One of the most amazing things about Prince was being disciplined enough not to be affected by the industry like so many other popular artists. You didn’t hear about crazed drunken parties that led to property destruction and arrests. There were no sketchy paternity suits. He didn’t get dropped at a rehab center after a court order. He often spoke of being inspired by God. Maybe it wasn’t just to write music, but also to live a proper life.
And it was a life lived fully. He sold over 150 million albums worldwide. He made four movies and is rumored to have a secret cameo in the Tim Burton version of Batman, for which he wrote and performed the entire score. He won an Oscar for Original Score for Purple Rain. He won a Golden Globe for Song of the Heart in the movie Happy Feet. Prince also created 136 music videos. He wrote numerous songs, including two entire albums, for other artists as well. And while he didn’t write it for her, Sinead O’Connor put herself on the map with her cover of Nothing Compares 2 U. Additionally, he helped get other artists noticed, like Morris Day, Apollonia, and Shiela E to name a few. Prince wanted to get good music out there and was humble enough to promote other musicians as well as himself.
Many things have been said about Prince by other artists, but the most telling was in an interview with Eric Clapton. He was once asked how it felt to be the greatest guitarist in the world. He replied, “I don’t know. Ask Prince.” Clapton also put Purple Rain at the top of his list of five albums he would want to have if he were stranded on a desert island.
Sometimes when Prince played, it seemed like Jimi Hendrix. At others, he poured out soulful strains like B.B. King or Stevie Ray Vaughn. And then there were sounds and rhythms that defied comparison. One moment you felt like you were in church, the next in a dimly lit dance hall or even a back room, feeling the heat of a lover. A song by Prince is so much more than just music. It is a journey. It is a fond memory. It is a deep heartache. Wherever the song takes you, it is personal and real.
The impact of Prince’s life and music will probably not be fully realized until the vacuum his absence will cause sets in. Commercially, artistically, you could even say spiritually, Prince drove music and the industry for three decades or more. And his influence will continue to be felt long after he is gone. But he is gone, and for many of us, his passing will leave a hole that will never be filled. Even though it wasn’t his song, the solo he did at the end of the song While My Guitar Gently Weeps in tribute to George Harrison in 2005 sums up who Prince was: music royalty. He was and ever shall be Prince.